Updated: November 29, 2012 11:34PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma is facing some criticism for his decision to hire a Statehouse lobbyist as a top adviser for the upcoming legislative session.
Bosma presided over the House during its organization day last week with former Rep. Matt Whetstone nearby as the new parliamentarian — a day after state records show Whetstone canceled his lobbyist registration.
The parliamentarian helps the speaker interpret House rules and typically is within a few steps of whoever is presiding over House sessions from the speaker’s rostrum.
Whetstone’s experience as chairman of the Houses Rules Committee before he resigned as a legislator in 2007 was a key reason why he was hired, Bosma told WISH-TV.
“Whetstone understands the House rules and how to execute them, which is the sole role of the parliamentarian,” Bosma said. “He understands the House and its floor procedures as well as anyone, and is the right selection for the job.”
Whetstone was a Republican legislator from Brownsburg for 11 years before he resigned in the middle of his term to become a lobbyist for the Indianapolis law firm of Krieg DeVault. He has been director of government affairs for the firm, whose lobbyists include former state Republican chairman Mike McDaniel and former state Democratic chairman Kip Tew.
Whetstone is prohibited from doing any lobbying work or representing clients at the Statehouse during his time as parliamentarian, Bosma spokeswoman Tory Flynn told The Associated Press.
Julia Vaughn, policy director for the government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, said Bosma’s decision to hire Whetstone “doesn’t pass the smell test.”
“So he’s going to have one leg in the lobbying world and the other leg in the behind-the-scenes-administration of the House of Representatives,” Vaughn said. “There’s an old saying that you can’t serve two masters.”
Whetstone didn’t immediately reply Thursday to a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Flynn said Whetstone would be paid $12,000 a month for his work during the legislative session, which starts in early January and is scheduled to end in late April.
That salary is less than the $13,500 a month paid to former Republican Rep. Bruce Munson as parliamentarian for the Legislature’s last long session in 2011 and similar to what other parliamentarians for Republican and Democratic speakers have been paid over the past decade, according to salary figures Flynn provided.