England's Audit Commission, which is supposedly to be politically neutral, paid nearly £60,000 to a lobbying firm who advised it to 'combat the activities of Eric Pickles', the Tory party's chairman.
Pickles has been leading a Conservative assault on the commission, calling for some of its powers to be handed back to local authorities.
Caroline Spelman, the shadow local government secretary, accused it yesterday of bankrolling lobbyists to save its own skin.
An official from another government regulator said there was 'real fear' inside the commission about the prospect of a Conservative government. Stephen Bundred, its £208,000-a-year chief executive, is a former labour councillor and associate of Ken Livingstone.
The commission denies Tory charges that it has breached official guidelines that ban quangos from hiring lobbyists to influence politicians. It used Connect Public Affairs - founded by Rosie Winterton MP, who is now a labour minister - after Pickles announced a plan to axe its regulatory regime, the Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA).
Pickles called the system time-consuming, over-complicated and unnecessary.
So, a government quango spends taxpayers money, with a business owned by a labour minister, on how to handle a conservative government. Spelman said: "We can no longer have confidence in the Audit Commission if it has become such a creature of the state that it bankrolls lobbyists to save its own skin and call for more red tape. This is a complete abuse of taxpayers' money by a body which is supposed to be standing up for taxpayers' interests."
If the tories do win the general election the Audit Commission will be one quango which will attract considerable attention from Mr Pickles and rightly so.
Eight of 23 Connect staff profiled on the company's website have worked for labour - and one is contesting a seat for the party at the coming election.