CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia University recently hired two lobbyists to be its eyes, ears and voice in Charleston.
The university has previously employed in-house lobbyists, but the decision to hire two contract lobbyists represents a recent shift in how WVU approaches relations with state government.
The two prominent lobbyists - Paul Hardesty and John Cavacini - registered in recent days to lobby for WVU Research Corp., the university's nonprofit affiliate. The corporation is funded using federal, state and private money.
Hardesty and Cavacini are both well known around the state Capitol.
Hardesty has more than two-dozen clients, including Alpha Natural Resources, Appalachian Electric Power, The Greenbrier and Morgantown real estate mogul Parry Petroplus.
Cavacini represents Anheuser-Busch and the state's racetracks and casinos.
Each is working on an initial three-month, $10,000 contract, WVU general counsel Bill Hutchens said.
While the contract is with the WVU Research Corp., Cavacini and Hardesty are expected to represent the university as a whole.
It's not yet clear what WVU wants from Charleston.
"We're critical to the state," Hutchens said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "We simply have to continue having communications on a constant basis with state government."
Cavacini and Hardesty are to "monitor, consult and report on matters of interest to WVU," Hutchens said.
The decision to contract with lobbyists to handle affairs in Charleston represents a dual shift for WVU.
The university previously had in-house lobbyists in Charleston but hired contract lobbyists to work for it in Washington, D.C.
Now, WVU has Cavacini and Hardesty on contract in Charleston but an in-house lobbyist, Mary Bowman, representing the university on Capitol Hill.
WVU previously employed an in-house staffer, David Miller, to handle government relations.
"Dave Miller was doing a good job at that as a full-time WVU employee, but last summer, as you recall, he retired from employment at WVU," Hutchens said.