At first glance, Jason Flanary is a minnow who is about to swim with the sharks. At 26, he is by far the Washington area's youngest tech-association chief executive. Last week, Flanary took over CapNet, which lobbies on technology issues, from Tim Hugo, who is now an independent lobbyist.
But Flanary isn't someone to be toyed with. Before he dipped into politics a few years ago, he was a Marine on security detail at Camp David. He was also an expert marksman with rifle and pistol and an instructor in hand-to-hand combat, including with the bayonet.
He has been equally aggressive in intellectual pursuits. Before he joined CapNet in late 2003, Flanary worked as an aide to two Republican congressmen and ran several election campaigns in Virginia. In his spare time, he graduated from George Mason University in three years.
CapNet, which began in 1999 as the political unit of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, has evolved into a national lobbying organization with 40 corporate members that run the gamut of high-tech companies: hardware, software, services and Internet. The group specializes in connecting company lobbyists with congressional staffers in formal sessions and in less formal settings such as meet-and-greet events and happy hours.
CapNet and TechNet, which is a separate group that emphasizes connecting technology chief executives with lawmakers, discussed but then dropped the idea of merging, Flanary said. So CapNet plans to try to expand beyond its three full-time staffers and to accelerate its congressional fundraising, which in the 2004 election cycle was nearly $250,000. "We remain a small mobile force but we are open to growing," Flanary said. For a minnow, he swims pretty fast.
-- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum