Former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, an influential Washington lobbyist who threw his support Monday behind GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s presidential bid, has alienated at least one longtime client: New Orleans.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration on Thursday confirmed that the city cut ties this week with Livingston and his firm, the Livingston Group, saying it strives to “have a lobbying team that operates in a bipartisan manner and is able to deliver in a bipartisan way.”
That reasoning was decried by one prominent local Republican, who accused the mayor of political posturing.
Landrieu is a Democrat who has been actively campaigning for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is leading the race for the Democratic nomination.
Since at least 2009, the Livingston Group and the Jones Walker law firm have held a contract to lobby on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies and departments for the city, the Sewerage & Water Board and the Regional Transit Authority. The firms were jointly paid about $9,200 a month, city officials said.
For now, the city is not seeking a replacement. Instead, the Livingston Group’s share of the work will be assumed by other lobbying team members.
Livingston confirmed his departure but did not elaborate on the reasons.
The Landrieu administration said the decision to break ties with the Livingston Group was “mutual” and that its team must be able to effectively lobby not only Congress but also President Barack Obama’s administration.
Trump’s brash rhetoric has sparked denunciations from Democrats and much of the Republican establishment.
Keeping a Trump supporter on the city’s payroll could have put Landrieu in political hot water, given the mayor’s recent comments likening the GOP candidate’s calls for a ban on new Muslim arrivals to the U.S. to racist views espoused by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
However, former City Councilman Jay Batt, a leading local Republican, said the move was more about politics than anything else.
“I think once again you’re seeing Mitch play partisan politics, and this shortsightedness will cost our city,” said Batt, chairman of the Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee.
Batt called Livingston an invaluable resource in Washington for the city and other clients.
He also suggested Landrieu was grasping at straws to stay in the spotlight.
“Pretty soon, Mitch is going to start acting like Mitt Romney and trying to remain relevant, especially if a Republican wins the presidency. Because he has no place to go,” he said, referring to the former GOP presidential candidate’s recent denunciation of Trump and the fact Landrieu’s second term expires in 2018.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.