by Irvin Muchnick
We’ve reported that Denver’s Ground Floor Media, the PR firm charged with helping USA Swimming make its youth coach sexual abuse “image” problem go away, also represents the Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman.
But you can never have enough bases covered. There’s at least one more pertinent entity in Ground Floor’s esteemed client stable: the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The title of the organization is deceptive — implying that it is some sort of neutral professional association or cooperative of legislative staffers. But the website, http://www.ncsl.org/, makes clear that NCSL is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is a federal lobby with two offices: Denver and … Washington. And it has an agenda:
“NCSL is nationally recognized as a formidable lobbying force in Washington, D.C. Year-in and year-out, the organization effectively works to enhance the role of states and state legislatures in the federal system. We oppose unfunded federal mandates and preemption of state authority, and seek to provide state legislatures the flexibility they need to innovate and be responsive to the unique needs of the residents of each state.”
You don’t need to be a Capitol Hill flesh-presser to know how all these relationships play out for USA Swimming. This national sport governing body, enabled by the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, already has hired one of the most powerful lobbyists in Sacramento to join with the Catholic Conference in attempting to scuttle a bill in the California legislature to reform the statute of limitations in sex abuse claims. Next week officials of USA Swimming and the parent U.S. Olympic Committee will be meeting with staffers of Congressman George Miller, ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, to explain the ins and outs of swimming’s expanded “safe sport” program, at a moment when victims’ advocates are demanding public Congressional hearings.
So what is the position here of the “National Conference of State Legislatures”? That federal initiatives to root pedophiles out of youth sports are bad because they might prevent state legislatures from having “the flexibility they need to innovate and be responsive to the unique needs of the residents of each state”?
And by the way, how much does NCSL pay out annually to USA Swimming’s “crisis communications” gurus?
I am forwarding this post to NCSL executive director Bill Pound and seeking his response.