The National Law Journal interviews Linda Lipsen, the long-time top lobbyist at the American Association for Justice hired in early May as AAJ's chief executive officer. The interview reveals little beyond the usual anti-corporate fulminating, but for the followers of the inside-Washington lobbying game, this is of interest:
Q: Who will be running the day-to-day activities of the lobbying team?
A: I'm an advocate. That's my whole background. I am going to continue running the lobby shop as well as running the organization. As a working mom, we're used to juggling a lot.
Yet posted at WashingtonPost.com Jobs site is a solicitation from the AAJ for a Chief Operating Officer dated May 24, 2010:
The Chief Operating Officer reports to the Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for AAJ's day to day operating activities. Direct reports include: the CFO, General Counsel and the EVP for Products and Services.
- Direct company operations to meet budget and other financial goals
- Direct short-term and long-range planning and budget development to support strategic business goals
So an honest answer might have been: "I intend to run the organization, but we will be hiring a COO to handle day-to-day operations."
Lipsen has escaped tough questions in the news coverage since being named CEO. There was a Q&A at The Washington Post, "New at the Top: Linda Lipsen of the American Association for Justice," a piece in the Blog of the Legal Times, and a brief item at Politico. Only the Southeast Texas Record, supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, raised the issues you would think most reporters would ask of the new head of a politically powerful lobbying group:
The American Association for Justice's rocky finances were first reported in September by The Washington Times. AAJ had a deficit of more than $6.2 million in its operating budget for the fiscal year that ended July 31, 2008, the newspaper said.
Additionally, the trade group's income from membership dues dropped from $28.6 million in 2005 to $19.2 million in 2008, according to a report filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
The AAJ has been successful in blocking legal reform, most notably in the health care bill, but how are its organizational strength and financing? Might be a good area of inquiry for an interview sometime.