David Jolly

David Jolly, the Republican congressional candidate vying for the special election in Florida next week, has not only made a career out of lobbying. Records reviewed by Republic Report show that Jolly’s clients won millions of dollars in taxpayer earmarks from his old boss, the late Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young (R-FL), an appropriator known for his lavish use of the earmarking process.

These earmarks contrast sharply with the claims made by Jolly that he did not build his business career through political connections to his former employer.

“I did not build my practice around Mr. Young, not in any stretch,” Jolly told the Tampa Bay Times.

Two of the firms that hired Jolly as a lobbyist — BayCare Health Systems and Alakai Defense Systems — won lucrative earmarks from Young while paying Jolly to influence the committee where Young was a senior member.

In 2009, BayCare Health Systems retained Jolly and another former former Young staffer named Douglas Gregory. Later that year, Young secured a $1 million earmark for BayCare Health Systems for “facilities and equipment.”

From 2008 through the beginning of 2010, Alakai Defense Systems, a sensor technology company for the military, retained Jolly as a lobbyist. Records indicate that during this period, Young awarded Alakai with over $2 million worth of earmarks.

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act prohibits certain former staffers in Congress from lobbying their former employers for a period of time. As the New York Times recently reported, many former staffers have flouted the “cooling off period” ban by taking advantage of an array of loopholes in the law.

Jolly, who left Young’s staff to join the lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates in January of 2007, became a lobbyist just before the ban came into effect.

“Yes, there are concerns raised when a former staffer appears to use his or her ties to his employer for personal gain,” says Jessica Levinson, associate professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.  “The cooling off period prohibition is designed to prevent people from using their connections in government to obtain unfair or preferential treatment or access for private clients.”

“The idea,” says Levinson, is that “everyone, regardless of whether or not they are represented by former staffers or officials, should get a fair shot to persuade their officials.”

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