Dual Roles of Tea Party Foe LaTourette Raises Issues About Lobbying

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Sunday, 05 Jan 2014 08:02 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Since leaving the House in 2013, former Republican congressman Steven LaTourette of Ohio has created an advocacy group that aims to bolster centrist GOP candidates against tea party challengers, a lobbying firm, a not-for-profit that raises money from companies and lobbyists, and a SuperPAC, according to The New York Times.

These "activities have raised questions about whether, in his dual roles, the former congressman violated the federal statute that prohibits lawmakers from lobbying on Capitol Hill for a year after leaving office," the Times reports.

According to law, a retired House member is prohibited from having contact with former colleagues with the "intent to influence official action."

LaTourette is associated with the Main Street Partnership, whose members include 52 House and three Senate centrist Republicans and whose research is funded by anonymous corporate donations.

LaTourette has appeared at conferences at which members of Congress have advocated cutting corporate taxes. He said that the one-year lobbying ban was not violated because he never had any contact "that seeks to influence official action."

A former head of enforcement at the Federal Election Commission, Kenneth Gross, said LaTourette may have violated the ban. "We advise against any interfacing on substance with sitting congressmen and staff," said Gross.

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies, LaTourette's lobbying firm, is run by LaTourette wife, Jennifer LaTourette and Hilary Fulp, his former legislative aide. The firm is a Washington subsidiary of LaTourette's Ohio law firm. The practice specializes in mustering support from centrist Republicans for liberal-leaning causes such as public television.

He is also connected to the Main Street Advocacy fund and Defending Main Street SuperPAC.

According to the Times, "LaTourette's lobbying firm is at times targeting the same lawmakers that the Main Street Partnership's political-affiliated groups are helping stay in office."

LaTourette acknowledged that his work with the Main Street Partnership "isn't bad" for his lobbying firm. "But it is not by design" and that he does not invite companies that belong to Main Street Partnership to become clients of McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies.

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