Meridian Star

October 23, 2013

Lobbying is Clay's passion

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Beth Clay, a Lauderdale County native who grew up, in her own words, 12 miles out in the woods from Collinsville, found herself as a youngster loving politics like her grandfather. But she didn't consider at that young age in becoming a lobbyist.

    "If you talked to the fifty or so lobbyists on capital hill in Jackson about how they came to be there, you would get fifty different paths," Clay told a group of Meridian Community College Foundation members at the annual President's Roundtable Luncheon Tuesday. "You don't take a college course for this because there aren't any. You just one day find yourself in this position and you go for it."

    Clay began as an attorney and while working as the assistant Secretary of State she became hooked on state politics. Clay said she worked as a junior partner of a law firm and in her first attempt to keep a bill from going through the capital, discovered her calling.

    "We work from early in the morning until they turn the lights off at the capital building," Clay said. "It is stressful but at the same time rewarding. And I hate to lose."

    Founded by Clay in 2001, The Clay Firm specializes in Mississippi-focused legislative, government relations and public affairs consulting, providing a full range of services – from direct lobbying to public policy and grassroots advocacy to contract procurement support at both the state and local levels.

    The firm's list of long-term clients includes Fortune 500 companies, businesses across numerous sectors, nonprofits and trade groups of all sizes.

    "I have turned down clients because I just didn't believe in their issue," Clay said. "I have to be totally committed to the issue in order for me to fight for it."

    Clay said her firm has been built on honesty and integrity. She said the credibility of her firm might be the most valuable asset.

    "There is no blueprint for this type of career except you must have huge amounts of determination and a lot of trust between you and your clients," Clay said.