Dogs and Rattlesnakes – Lawmakers and Lobbyists

Despite legislatures adopting sexual harassment policies and mandatory annual training, lobbyists should not presume sexual harassment will cease. Experience to date suggests sexual harassment training does little to change lawmaker behavior. In part this may be because the drivers for the behavior remain, a few of which include: legislatures remain overwhelmingly male; acquired situational narcissism; power differential between lobbyists and lawmakers; those willing to sell and those willing to buy remain; sex is a proven sales technique; and some men and occasionally women are disposed to this kind of behavior.

The story of former Florida Democratic Senate minority leader-designate Jeff Clemens illustrates the hazards to lawmakers of a consensual lobbyist-lawmaker sexual relationship: “Clemens, 47 and married, resigned on Friday after Politico reported that he had an affair with Devon West, then a lobbyist for Martin County. As the relationship disintegrated, West came into possession of Clemens’ laptop computer and according to Politico ‘gained access to all his contacts and personal information and then informed his wife of the tryst.’” (Clemens failed test of character and let down many people, Palm Beach Post, October 31, 2017) Broward County, a much more politically powerful player, later hired Ms. West.

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