George Allen is not a lobbyist! But ...


Allen at April’s Shad Planking in Wakefield, Va. (By Jay Paul for The Washington Post)

One more time: George Allen is not a lobbyist.

McElhatton’s piece was of particular interest to me because I had referred to the Republican as the L-word in a column I wrote last month. His campaign was rightly zealous about a correction, which I was happy to give.

But Jim McElhatton’s Times piece explains why there might be some confusion about Allen. His consulting firm, George Allen Strategies, touts its success in “helping clients navigate the waters inside — and outside — the Beltway.” It lists on its Web site a registered federal lobbyist as a principal, though that person, former Allen aide Paul Unger, is engaged on a contract basis, meaning that Allen Strategies doesn’t have to register as a lobbying firm.

A representative from Public Citizen said the arrangement “appears to stretch evasion of the lobbying disclosure law to new heights.” And it appears to have been done so that Allen can specifically avoid being tarred as a Washington lobbyist in campaign advertising.

It’s a fascinating matter of political semantics. While Allen might not be a lobbyist, “helping clients navigate the waters inside – and outside – the Beltway” also isn’t exactly the day-to-day work of a political outsider. It will be interesting to see what terminology his political foes come up with to paint him as an Washington insider — keeping in mind that his likely opponent Tim Kaine, as a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, might well be painted with the exact same stuff.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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