LOS ANGELES: Fleishman-Hillard has appointed regional president Richard Kline to be its first official spokesman on the controversy it is facing over its contract with the LA Department of Water and Power.
The news comes as the city controller this month launched an audit of the contract. Prior to announcing Kline's role, the agency had not spoken to the Los Angeles Times or any other regional media that has been covering the issue.
"For us, the first thing has been to establish and validate the facts," Kline said about the firm's decision to wait to make such an appointment. "We're going to cooperate with any legitimate inquiry that comes along."
Valued at $3 million a year, the account has been the subject of intense scrutiny by city controller Laura Chick, the city council, and the media, as the DWP seeks an 18% increase in water rates.
Chick, who has been a vocal critic of both the DWP and Fleishman, said she would be examining oversight of the contract, as well as specific services provided by the agency.
Fleishman is not the only PR firm employed by the DWP, but both Fleishman and the department have declined to publicly explain exactly what the firm does for the DWP, leaving many to wonder where the money is allocated. That lack of clarity has increased misconceptions surrounding the contract, leaving many to wonder why a public department with a local monopoly needs PR at all.
Kline said that he is open to answering questions about the controversy.
"We're proud of the work we've done and are doing in Los Angeles and for other city agencies," he said.