Everyone knows whom to call when your house is haunted, but whom do you reach out to when you’re scared for your political life? In this issue’s cover story, City & State’s new reporter Aaron Short talks to the state’s top political fixers to get the best advice on how to handle a crisis when you find yourself suddenly the subject of a scandal.
As for those of you whose political problems are a little less pressing than pending resignation or court dates, we have sage suggestions in this issue to offer you, too. In “Do As I Say,” our new political-advice column, Jeff Smith draws upon his singular experience as a candidate, elected official and legislator to offer counsel on how to deal with any problems you face in campaigns, in government or in any other area where you might need guidance, personally or professionally.
If anyone understands what it’s like to suffer a political crisis, it’s Jeff. After a storybook path to elected office in which he went from being a no-name teacher to a rising-star Missouri State Senator in a matter of two years—an ascent inspiringly chronicled in the award-winning PBS documentary Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?—Smith’s political career swiftly blew up in his face. Accused and then convicted of submitting a false affidavit to the Federal Elections Commission related to the covering up of an illegal campaign coordination, Smith was stripped of his office and sent to federal prison, where he served nearly a year behind bars, a good deal of which he spent doing hard labor.
Since his release Smith has been using his unique experience to advise politicians around the country how to handle ethical dilemmas and uphold their oaths of office. He has also become an assistant professor of politics and advocacy at the New School’s Milano Graduate School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy in Manhattan. At 38 he is wise beyond his years, possessing an insight forged in the crucible of adversity, ruin and redemption.
I urge you to send your questions for Jeff to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you don’t end up taking his advice, you will be amused and informed by his response.
Lastly, for those of you in the lobbying business, you will likely benefit from the insights of our Q&A interview subject this issue: Jack Abramoff.
No stranger to political crises himself, Abramoff and his notorious career bring to mind the immortal words of Alfred E. Newman: “Crime does not pay…as well as politics.”
Tags: Alfred E. Newman, and Urban Policy, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, Do As I Say, Federal Elections Commission, Jack Abramoff, Jeff Smith, Management, Milano Graduate School of International Affairs, Morgan Pehme
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