One of the problems with hiring lobbyists to lie for you in a public forum is that eventually, they might slip up and tell the truth instead. Something along those lines appears to have happened recently during a hearing a Vermont Senate committee was holding on a gun control bill. Lobbyist Tyler Wilkinson-Ray, hired by the ironically-named group Gun Sense Vermont, was giving testimony, when he cut loose with the civilian disarmament version of a Kinsley gaffe: it turns out that Gun Sense Vermont needs to get its marching orders — ‘national expertise’ was the euphemism Wilkinson-Ray mumbled — from HQ in New York . . .
Apparently the Everytown/Moms Demand Action offices were closed at the time Wilkinson-Ray was testifying and he didn’t know enough about the bill he was hired to flack for to express an opinion. From timesargus.com:
During the hearing, lobbyist Tyler Wilkinson-Ray of the Necrason Group in Montpelier said his client, Gun Sense Vermont, would need to look further into a proposed amendment. The amendment, according to Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, did not change the scope of the bill but incorporated changes from several stakeholders.
“It really takes into account suggestions from the Department of Mental Health and the judiciary, and some comments from the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs … as well as, actually, Gun Sense. Everybody had some input,” Sears said.
Nonetheless, Wilkinson-Ray said Gun Sense Vermont would need to explore the implications.
“We need to get national expertise on this before we can approve it,” Wilkinson-Ray said.
That didn’t please Judiciary Committee Chairman Spears one bit. “So you have to get a hold of the national organization? Is that your testimony?” he asked. Alas, Mr. Wilkinson-Ray apparently missed the day in class that teaches lobbyists and other mercenaries how to dissemble under fire. Or at least get their instruction before going on stage.
“We don’t believe this is an earnest effort to improve the bill,” Wilkinson-Ray told the committee Thursday.
That caused a strong reaction from Sears, who has already displayed his frustration several times this legislative session as his committee has worked on the legislation.
“Oh, wow. Wow. I can’t believe you just said that,” he responded. “I think we should take a five-minute break and you should check with your bosses and if you’re sure you want to say that this is not an honest effort.”
“You are disparaging the courts of the state of Vermont as well as the Department of Mental Health. So, when you say it’s not an honest effort, that pisses me off. You don’t want to piss me off because I’m already fed up with this bill,” Sears added.
Adam Necrason, president of the Necrason Group, did not return a message seeking comment.
Looks like Gun Sense Vermont isn’t much of a “grass roots” organization after all, no matter what their website may say. Go figure.
I ain’t no scientist of politics here, but when you’re testifying in support of a gun control bill and you manage to piss off the Democrat from Bennington, that means that the sign saying “Welcome to Successville” is rapidly receding in your rear-view mirror.
I’d like to think that it’s a testament to Wilkinson-Ray’s character that, despite working in a profession where lying is a bona fide occupational qualification and representing a client whose philosophical foundation is based almost entirely on falsehoods, he managed to let slip a little bit of the truth anyway.