Report indicates Jolly lobbied for Social Security reform but he says he did not
A 2009 lobbying disclosure report indicates David Jolly worked on Social Security reform on behalf of a conservative interest whose CEO expressed support for privatizing accounts.
But Jolly, a Republican candidate facing Alex Sink in the Congressional District 13 election, denies working on the issue, marking the second time he has distanced himself from what reports suggest otherwise.
"David Jolly has been very clear on his position that he supports preserving Social Security,” campaign spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said in a statement. “In fact, that is one of the reasons he is on record saying he would not have voted for the Ryan budget because of certain changes to the Social Security program.”
The Social Security issue could fuel Democrats, who have already made an issue of Jolly’s lobbying career, including a new TV ad released this week.
Earlier this month, Jolly faced questions about a 2011 lobbying disclosure report, also on behalf of Free Enterprise Nation, that indicated he lobbied for a House bill designed to expand oil drilling in the gulf and elsewhere. Jolly told the Tampa Bay Times he "did not lobby for that legislation."
He said he felt obligated to list it on his disclosure report because the subject came up during a meeting he attended while lobbying on other issues. "I had a practice of always overcomplying" with disclosure requirements, he said then.
That’s the same explanation his campaign offered when asked about Social Security reform.
“As we have explained before, if an issue came up during a meeting, David disclosed the topic,” Bascom said. “In this instance, he was meeting with Paul Ryan on the Ryan budget and the topic of Social Security came up. David did not advocate either way on the issue.”
When the oil drilling issue arose, the CEO of Free Enterprise Nation, Jim MacDougald, issued a statement saying Jolly was never employed to lobby for Roadmap for America's Energy Future. PolitiFact quoted goverment watchdog groups that were questioned why Jolly would have listed the energy bill.
MacDougald, a co-chair of Jolly’s campaign finance team, used $1 million of his money in 2009 to launch Free Enterprise Nation. The group's goal was to combat government spending and a cut the federal workforce.
In a 2010 CNBC interview, MacDougald called for making federal employees work longer but said he did not agree with raising the retirement age for Social Security. He did advocate for allowing people to invest some of their Social Security money, an idea that Republicans have not seriously pursued since President George W. Bush’s disastrous sales job.
Jolly became a lobbyist after working for the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young. His first job was with Van Scoyoc Associates, a major Washington firm, but then he opened his own shop, Three Bridges Advisors (the name comes from the Gandy, Howard Frankland and Courtney Campbell bridges that a plane landing in Tampa flies over.) The firm earned $1.2 million over the past three years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Jolly gave up the lobbying practice to run for congress.