The three candidates running to replace Rep. Tom DeLay as Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives have their own multiple “revolving door” connections to lobbying firms, each sending former staff members, and staff members of the committees they chair, to work for major K Street operations.
Rep. Roy Blunt, (R-Mo.), Rep. John Boehner, (R-Ohio), and Rep. John Shadegg, (R-Ariz.), are linked to more than a dozen lobbying firms and other organizations that lobby through employees who worked in their Capitol Hill offices, making the major differences between their operations and Delay’s not immediately perceptible.
In the shadow of Jack Abramoff‘s guilty pleas to three lobby-related felony charges, the public, the press, and state and federal prosecutors are scrutinizing members of Congress and their relationships with lobbyists and the K Street firms.
Rep. Boehner, the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Workforce, who once handed out lobbyists’ re-election campaign contributions on the floor of the House, has connections to at least 14 lobbyists:
- George H. Conant, a lobbyist for California State University since 2003, worked as a staff member on the Committee on Education and Workforce under Boehner.
- David A. Connolly Jr. was a professional staff member on the House Committee on Education and Workforce under Boehner before registering to lobby with Capitol Associates, Inc. in 2004.
- Allison L. Dembeck, a lobbyist for the human resources outsourcing company Ceridian Inc. beginning in 2004, previously was an executive assistant on the Committee on Education and Workforce under Boehner.
- Christy Carson Evans was a special assistant to Boehner before registering to lobby with the firm Cassidy and Associates (owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies) in 1998.
- Terry Holt, a former press secretary for the House Republican Conference under Boehner, opened up his own consulting firm Holt Strategies last week, which Holt said currently has no lobbying clients. He previously lobbied for the firms Quinn Gillespie & Associates and Dutko Worldwide (formerly the Dutko Group).
- Kristin Wolgemuth Fitzgerald was a professional staff member on the House and Education Workforce Committee under Boehner before opening up her own firm Fitzgerald Consulting in 2004.
- Marc Lampkin served as general counsel to the House Republican Conference under Boehner before registering to lobby with Quinn Gillespie & Associates in 2001.
- Patrick Lyden was a staff member on the Committee on Education and Workforce under Boehner, before registering to lobby with the National Federation of Independent Business in 2003.
- Josh Mathis, a former political aide to Boehner, lobbies for Washington Advocates. He registered to lobby in 2003 with the Petrizzo Group before the firm merged with Bockorny, Castagnetti, Hawkins & Brain in 2004 to form Bockorny Petrizzo.
- Alanna Miller was an aide on the House and Education Workforce Committee under Boehner before registering to lobby for Venn Strategies in 2005.
- Tyson R. Redpath, a former legislative assistant to Boehner, registered to lobby for the firm Lesher & Russell, Inc. in 2005. Redpath has previously lobbied for the firm Olsson, Frank and Weeda and the industry organization National Grain Trade Council.
- Brenda B. Reese, who worked as the conference coordinator for Boehner when he chaired the House Republican Conference lobbies for Bockorny Petrizzo. She first registered to lobby in 1999 with Bergner, Bockorny, Castagnetti, Hawkins & Brain.
- Benjamin T. Peltier, who first registered to lobby for the firm Arent Fox PLLC in 2003, was part of the professional staff to Boehner on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
- Heather Valentine, vice president for policy for the Council for Opportunity in Education, was a press secretary for the Committee on Education and Workforce under Boehner. Valentine previously lobbied for the MWW Group until 2005.
Rep. Blunt, the acting majority leader, has connections to at least three lobbyists:
- Samantha Cook, a former senior legislative assistant to Blunt, has worked for the lobbying firm Fierce Isakowitz & Blalock beginning in 2001.
- Lobbyist John Dutton served as Blunt’s legislative director before registering to lobby with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in 2003.
- Gregg L. Hartley who has worked for the lobbying firm Cassidy and Associates Inc. (owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies) since 2003 was previously chief of staff in Blunt’s whip office.
Rep. Shadegg, who resigned as chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee to run for DeLay’s former position, has connections to at least two lobbyists:
- Teddy Eynon, a lobbyist for Davidson and Co., previously served as Shadegg’s deputy chief of staff. Before joining Davidson and Co. in 2005, Eynon lobbied for several years for DCI Group.
- Jennifer Macdonald, a lobbyist for Association of American Railroads since 2001, previously was the district director for Shadegg.
In all, more than 2,200 former federal government employees had registered as federal lobbyists between 1998 and 2004, as the Center for Public Integrity reported in April 2005. This includes nearly 250 former members of Congress and agency heads.
In addition to these links to lobbyists that went through the proverbial “revolving door,” the Center found that Blunt made similar transactions – albeit legal – to those that led to DeLay’s money laundering indictment charges in Texas.
Blunt, who has temporarily replaced DeLay, accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from corporations to his 527 organization (Rely On Your Beliefs Fund) and sent $661,000 to the Missouri Republican State Committee. 527 committees—nicknamed for the section of the tax code under which they receive a tax exemption—are political nonprofits that can spend money in support of specific issues, but not on behalf of particular candidates.
The difference is that unlike Texas, Missouri state law allows corporate donations to state candidates, political action committees and parties. While it does not limit the amount a state party can take in, it does impose a $1,200 limit on corporate donations to candidates, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
These donations to Blunt’s 527 group include contributions from four of the same companies that were implicated in the DeLay indictment, including:
- Diversified Collection Services Inc. ($50,000);
- Bacardi U.S.A. Inc. ($5,000);
- Sears, Roebuck and Co. ($4,000);
- Cornell Companies Inc. ($5,000).
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