Is State Senator Andy Manar Violating His Own Ethics Proposal?

Manar receives compensation from a DC-based consulting firm who has a $500k/year no-bid contract from a community college that covers his senate district

Last week, State Senator Andy Manar led a group of Democratic lawmakers in announcing an ethics reform proposal that includes provisions such as:

  • Prohibit legislators from lobbying elected officials from other units of government

  • Better define who is a lobbyist to ensure consultants and lawyers aren’t able to use loopholes to perform lobbying and skirt registration as a lobbyist

  • Expand disclosure of legislators’ outside income

But does Manar’s own side gig at a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm violate his ethics proposal?

Since early 2012, Manar has worked for THG Advisors, previously known as The Horinko Group. According to their website, THG Advisors is “a community-building consulting firm operating at the intersection of policy, science, and communications” that specializes in “regulatory intervention.” Although the firm does not lobby at this time, they employed lobbyists in 2008-2009 and 2015-2016, according to the U.S. Senate Lobbyist Disclosure Act Database. Lobbying clients included defense contractor BAE Systems.

According to Manar’s 2013 through 2020 statements of economic interest filed with the Secretary of State, he earned at least $1,200 each year from his position with the firm. State law does not require lawmakers to disclose the exact dollar amount of outside income earned, so the public does not know how much money Manar has earned from his position.

Although he continues to report income from the company, Manar’s company biography was removed from the THG Advisors website. A 2017 screenshot from Manar’s company bio says he serves as “Senior Advisor for Public-Private Partnerships & Stakeholder Engagement” for THG Advisors and “brings a boots on the ground perspective on how to effectively engage local communities and state program managers and budget officers.”

THG Advisors has received scrutiny locally for receiving $500,000 a year no-bid contracts from Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC). According to The Telegraph, former LCCC President Dale Chapman was “criticized for signing a no-bid contract with a consulting firm, The Horinko Group in Washington, D.C., at $500,000 annually since 2008.” The LCCC district covers the Macoupin County and Madison County areas of Manar’s senate district.

Andy Manar has many questions to answer regarding his work at THG Advisors:

  • What is the nature of Manar’s work at THG Advisors?

  • How much does Manar earn from his position at THG Advisors?

  • As “Senior Advisor for Public-Private Partnerships & Stakeholder Engagement,” what “stakeholders” is Manar “engaging”?

  • Does Manar communicate with any public employee or elected officials at the federal, state, or local level regarding his work at THG Advisors? If so, has he ever encouraged them to take official action?

  • What is the expanded definition of “consultant” under Manar’s ethics proposal and does it cover his work at THG Advisors? If it does cover his work, when does he plan to leave his position due to the lawmaker-lobbyist prohibition in his ethics proposal?

  • If it does not cover his position, does his consulting side gig violate the spirit of his own ethics proposal?

  • Is Manar’s salary paid for in any part by the no-bid contract THG Advisors received from LCCC?

  • Are there any other units of government in Manar’s senate district that have given contracts to THG Advisors?

  • What is the nature of Manar’s work at Priorities USA?

  • Does Manar think it’s appropriate for a sitting legislator to receive compensation from a Super PAC?

“Andy Manar has a lot of explaining to do regarding his side gig at a D.C. consulting firm that received many no-bid contracts from a community college in his senate district. As Manar pushes ethics reforms and new disclosure requirements for lobbyists and lawmakers, he should lead by example and explain the nature of his DC consulting firm.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesperson Joe Hackler.