Lobbyists in plain sight

When the Nevada legislative building first opened, its most striking feature was phone booths—there were dozens of them on every floor, lining walls, tucked under stairs, inside closets that Clark Kent would have loved. The public lobby was lined with them and there was a switchboard office in the lobby. Today, of course, the booths are gone, and with them privacy.

“What I miss most is the privacy that came with those booths,” said lobbyist George Ross.

Overhearing lobbyists can be helpful to competing lobbyists, which is why some lobbyists seem to have people trailing behind them in hallways.

“I know I have been followed at times,” Ross said.

Lobbyist Joe Guild said rather than talk in hallways, “If I have a sensitive phone call, I go outside.”

The same goes for meetings with associates. Guild said after one hearing on court reporters—he represents the Nevada Court Reporters Association—he made his clients wait until they got out of the building before asking him questions about what had happened in the hearing.

“All right, step into my office over here,” said lobbyist Peter Kreuger one day as he led two other lobbyists to an empty space near the legislative gift shop where they could talk quietly.

“I don't worry about it [privacy], but I'm cognizant of it,” Krueger said. “You have to be aware of it.”

There is a lobbyists' room, across the hall from the press room, but its close quarters compound the privacy problem. It's no place to meet with a client.