KPA Report - August 18, 2021
The KPA Report: How to Avoid and Minimize Risk in Political or Public Affairs Campaigns
A number of these principles can be applied to almost any business setting. It’s always a good idea to brush up on these “rules of the road,” whether you are a first-time campaign manager, consultant, or a seasoned professional strategist. Here’s my Q&A with Jerry Amante, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Core Strategic Group.
Dan Kramer: What steps would you recommend if there is a sensitive situation involving campaign staff? Some common situations: personnel issues, staff vetting, a compliance issue, a vendor conflict, or sensitive legal action involving a candidate.
Jerry Amante: Do not wait or hesitate. Each of these situations will turn on their own facts, but if you believe the issue is sensitive enough for you to be concerned, your first call should be to your lawyer. All your conversations and the advice you receive from your lawyer will be covered by the attorney-client privilege and certain other legal protections on work product. Additionally, before you take action, you will have the benefit of receiving advice from someone who likely spends their entire working day weighing, avoiding, and planning around risk. Together, you can plan a course of action on the issue, the appropriate professionals to involve, and whether, for instance, you need crisis management professionals to guide your response. Don’t waste any time in immediately getting an evaluation and assessment from a legal or a crisis professional.
Dan Kramer: How important are political compliance rules in a campaign, and what’s the risk of violating or failing to comply?
Jerry Amante: Failure to know and scrupulously follow the rules that apply to your campaign can lead to legal and political problems, including costly fines, embarrassment, loss of credibility with voters and donors, and ultimately the loss of your campaign. Yes, the rules, deadlines, forms, and filings involved are often complicated and ambiguous. If you don’t understand something, make certain you get advice from someone who is familiar with political compliance. Another tip: calendar and meet your required filing deadlines, and if for some reason you failed to include a critical piece of information, amend your filings sooner rather than later. Failure to comply needlessly gives your political opponent a weapon of attack.
Dan Kramer: What are your thoughts on using email and other means of online communications?
Jerry Amante: President Calvin Coolidge, who was known to be a man of very few words, is credited as once saying “If you don’t say something, you won’t have to repeat it.” Coolidge never had to deal with electronic communication, but one could easily adapt his statement today to be “If you don’t write, tweet, post of publish it, you won’t have to live with it…forever!” The simple truth is that you should be very careful what you put in writing, who you send it to, and what it may be interpreted as saying. Your language may be imprecise, emails can be forwarded, and good oppo guys like you will find it – or worse, lawyers may use it against you or your candidate in the discovery process. Communications are a necessary part of everyday life. Nonetheless, careless communications are fraught with danger. Be careful out there!
Dan Kramer: Are there any procedures you recommend people follow to help with cyber security protection and minimize the risks of being hacked?
Jerry Amante: Yes, consult with an expert and have your systems reviewed on a regular basis since technology is constantly evolving in this area. Buy appropriate cybersecurity software and use it correctly. Learn to recognize common cybersecurity threats: ransomware, hackers, scammers, and criminals and how to counter them. Keep all your browsers, drivers, and software updated to the latest versions, not just your antivirus software as those will have built in protections for the latest threats. Be careful what you click on in an email, website, or Google search. Back up your data. Employ good password management hygiene – change them every so often. Most of us know these simple rules, but not all of us follow them.
Dan Kramer: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jerry Amante: If you have a crisis you must deal with, or if you want to avert a potential political or business crisis, consult your attorney and then get professional assistance from people who have seen it all over the years. Dan, you and others on our team have experience in dealing with problems you haven’t encountered. A few well spent dollars and investment of time with a talented professional will pay off a hundred-fold in keeping you away from a crisis, dealing with it when it arises, or even more importantly, knowing what you don’t know could save you a ton of trouble in the future. Research is far better than repair. Risk planning is far better than risk mitigation or management. And being forewarned is better than being forlorn.
KPA Strategies is here to help you with all your political and public affairs research needs, at the local, state, or federal level. KPA Strategies offers an initial consultation for new clients, candidates and/or their consultants to understand our services, kick the tires, get some good initial advice, and walk away with at least a basic checklist of the things we look at during our research. If you are interested in learning more, KPA has a short presentation that we are happy to share via a phone call, Zoom, or in person- if you are in a local jurisdiction that permits it.
Dan Kramer, President of KPA Strategies, has more than 20 years’ experience in political, campaign and trade association management, investigative research, and public relations. He is an expert in developing and implementing effective public affairs campaigns for businesses, institutions, and individuals under attack from competitors, activists, political and regulatory officials, and the media. Please feel free to reach out with any questions to email@example.com or visit www.kpastrategies.com.
Jerry Amante serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Core Strategic Group. Based in Orange County, Jerry leads business development efforts throughout the Southern California region. Jerry possesses nearly 40 years of real estate and land use law, business and corporate law, political and government experience. Core Strategic Group is a premier holding company comprised of the best political, public affairs and association management professionals in the country. For more information, visit www.corestrategicgroup.com.