The city of Charleston has spent $424,750 in lobbying fees with the lobbying firm of William Clyburn, Jr. — the cousin of South Caroina's senior congressman, Jim Clyburn (D-SC), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
John Tecklenburg, Charleston’s new mayor, took office in January and inherited a contract with Clyburn Consulting.
In addition to being the cousin of Congressman Clyburn, William Clyburn, Jr. is the son of Bill Clyburn, Sr., a Democrat who is a member of the state House of Representatives.
Jack O’Toole, director of communications for the city of Charleston, told Palmetto Business Daily he couldn’t speak to the reason why the city chose William’s firm, if any other firms had been considered, or on what issues Clyburn Consulting was lobbying federally.
“From our perspective, I can only say that we are preparing the request for proposal right now on the citywide performance audit, which will include contracts and things, and we’ll know much more about what makes sense, what doesn’t, what we are going to do going forward when we get that report done,” O’Toole said.
In 2006, a USA Today article reported that Clyburn, Jr.'s firm had received $60,000 from two consulting firms in 2005 to seek funding for the Augusta, Georgia airport. William reportedly told USA Today that he had secured $2.5 million for the airport after speaking with his cousin about putting the money into an appropriations bill.
But a few months later, a spokesperson for Rep. Jim Clyburn disputed the characterization; and the following day, the lobbyist retracted his statement, stating he never spoke to his cousin about receiving funding.
Lawmakers and lobbyists are not required to disclose if they are related to each other, and no laws prevent legislators from being lobbied by relatives.
Clyburn, Jr.'s firm also has lobbied for the American Public Transportation Association, AT&T, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the Financial Services Institute, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
William served on the Surface Transportation Board as vice chairman and board member from 1998 to 2001. At the time of his appointment, the former commissioner was serving as the commerce counsel to Sen. Chuck Robb (D-VA).
Prior to joining Robb, William served as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation from 1993 to 1995.