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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Supervisors break with federal lobbyists

The Linn County supervisors have voted to fire the federal lobbying firm that’s been working on the county’s behalf since August.

Pending approval from Palo, which has joined Linn County in retaining the firm, the supervisors terminated their contract with Chicago-based Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, a K Street lobbying firm that was brought on to help local government secure flood recovery money by navigating the bewildering world of federal funding.

Two lobbyists were assigned to help the county, and the point person was Mary Langowski, a former aide in Sen. Tom Harkin’s office and a graduate of Drake University who went to law school at the University of Iowa.

Langowski recently left Sonnenschein to join another lobbying firm, Supervisor Brent Oleson said, and she was not replaced, leaving the county with one lobbyist.

“One of the lobbyists has left. The main one,” Oleson said.

The county has paid $81,839 — about $9,000 per month since August — to the lobbying firm.

Supervisor Jim Houser said he thought at first it was good for the county to have a lobbyist, to “keep on top of things in Washington D.C.” in the wake of the flood.

But now, “I don’t know if we need it,” Houser said.

The Cedar Rapids City Council hired Sonnenschein in July, and contracted to pay the firm $10,000 per month for no longer than a year.

The city’s contract with Sonnenschein extends into July, and the city is preparing for a request for proposal process to hire a lobbyist beyond that.

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