Mayor Marion Barry's reelection committee has asked the American Association of Political Consultants to censure a Boston-based firm that had conducted a poll for the Barry campaign but later agreed to serve as political consultant to Patricia Roberts Harris, the mayor's chief rival in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.
In a letter to the association, Barry's campaign manager, Ivanhoe Donaldson, asked that the AAPC "take swift action to condemn the behavior of Marttila-Kiley and confirm that such activities are not in accord with your code of professional ethics."
Roy Pfautch, president of the AAPC, which will hold its annual meeting in Los Angeles on Friday, said he has appointed a standards committee to review Barry's complaint and that he expects the committee to offer a report on the incident by July 6.
Marttila-Kiley is not a member of the association.
Tom Kiley, a partner in the firm, said he would cooperate with the review committee, but added that he believes Barry is not concerned with protecting the ethical standards of political consulting.
"It's obvious harassment," he said. "What he's trying to do is generate a lot of publicity and obscure the issues that are the substance of the campaign."
Last week, Barry said he would work to prevent Marttila-Kiley from getting any more Democratic candidates as clients throughout the nation. "We're going to make life difficult for them. You watch," he said.
In addition to the letter to the AAPC, Donaldson said Monday that he had conferred with James Dyke, a lawyer, about possibly obtaining a restraining order or instituting other legal measures to stop Marttila-Kiley from working for the Harris campaign.
"It's a matter of principal," Donaldson said. "They took steps to hurt us . . . . It's the same as a lawyer preparing a case for you and then going to work for the prosecution with all the information he has about your case."
Marttila-Kiley had done a campaign poll for Barry in April and believed it had an agreement with the mayor's campaign to serve as its political consultant, firm officials said. Early last month, the firm, asserting that the mayor's reelection staff had taken no steps to act on the agreement, informed the Barry campaign that it would not serve as its consultant. Last week, Marttila-Kiley signed on with Harris.
It is not clear what an AAPC censure would mean to the firm. The association has no power to take actual punitive action against any firm, and there are no agreed-upon professional standards for political consultants, Pfautch said.