WASHINGTON -- Janna Ryan was introduced to America on Saturday as a stay-at-home mom who has raised three children while her husband, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), built a career in Washington.
But the wife of Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick spent a decade in Washington herself, first as a congressional aide and then as a corporate lobbyist, whose clients included the cigar industry, a logging company, drugmakers, the health insurance industry and a nuclear power plant.
The details of Janna Ryan's lobbying career come as Democrats and Republican party insiders question whether Paul Ryan's career in government, and his scant private sector experience, are at odds with Mitt Romney's pro-business, anti-Washington message.
Ryan, born Janna Christine Little, quit her lobbying job shortly after marrying her husband in late 2000, but by all accounts she was an effective lobbyist before that. Over just three years, Ryan's 20 corporate clients paid more than $2.7 million in lobbying fees to her two employers, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Williams & Jensen, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Her clientroster reads like a who's who of some of America's most politically polarizing corporate interests. Drug industry clients included the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Alliance (PhRMA), Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Novartis. Oil industry clients included Conoco and Marathon Oil. Big health insurance companies Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna were also on the list.
From 1998 to 2000, Ryan was part of a small team that lobbied the House, Senate and White House on behalf of the Cigar Association of America to exclude cigars from many of the same regulations placed on cigarettes, like warning labels and excise taxes. PwC received $760,000 from the cigar lobby during Ryan's tenure.
The cigar lobbying effort was launched to fend off congressional scrutiny of the industry, following revelations in the late 1990s that cigar manufacturers had orchestrated a decades-long campaign to make cigars look cool, and to minimize their health hazards. This included paying celebrities to smoke cigars at events and coincided with the launch of Cigar Aficionado, a magazine that glamorizes cigar smoking and relies heavily on industry advertising (its former landlord was also the CEO of General Cigar Holdings, one of the nation's largest cigar manufacturers). Cigars contain as much nicotine as several cigarettes.
During the same period, Ryan and her colleague Pat Raffianello also represented cigar industry interests through the National Association of Convenience Store Operators, a trade group seeking to limit the impact of potential cigar regulations on booming convenience-store cigar sales. Together, they brought in at least $240,000 from the group over three years of lobbying the House and Senate.
Ryan and Rafianello had worked together before -- he was the former chief of staff to Rep. Bill Brewster (D-Okla.), for whom Ryan also worked in the early 1990s. A pro-business, fiscally conservative Democrat from Janna Ryan's home state, Brewster was the subject of a damning profile in The American Prospect, which in 2001 labeled him "a vivid illustration of what the system still permits: fundraising practices that skew politics in favor of wealthy interests."
Today, Brewster is a lobbyist and founder of the Capitol Hill Consulting Group, a lobbying firm. Brewster did not return a request for comment. Like Paul Ryan, Brewster served on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, charged with determining how taxpayer funds are spent -- and vigorously lobbied by corporate tax lobbyists.
Ryan and Rafianello also represented the Vermont Yankee Corp., a nuclear power plant, on "nuclear waste issues," according to federal lobbying registration forms. The company paid $180,000 over three years between 1998 and 2000, while Vermont Yankee was being sold; its owners hoped more favorable tax laws would make it more attractive to buyers.
In 1998, the same year that her future husband was elected to Congress, Ryan was also part of a team that received $220,000 in fees for lobbying on behalf of United Parcel Service, part of the company's ultimately successful effort to defeat a postal reform bill, which would have made the U.S. Postal Service more profitable.
The effects of that effort can still be felt today. Earlier in August, after a decade of continued revenue decline, the Postal Service defaulted on payments due to the U.S. Treasury.
Ryan and her then-boyfriend's work appear to have overlapped. In February 2000 while Janna Ryan still was working on behalf of UPS, Paul Ryan made one of only two corporate-funded trips he took that year, from Milwaukee to Atlanta, where UPS is headquartered. The trip was paid for by UPS, which also flew the congressman back to Washington, according to his financial disclosure reports.
The Romney campaign declined to comment on the UPS trip, nor did the campaign comment on her lobbying clients.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Cigar Aficionado magazine was launched by cigar manufacturers as part of a public relations campaign. The magazine was founded and continues to be published by Marvin Shanken.
"Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot. Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation's challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down. "The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream. I'm excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning
<blockquote> "Mitt Romney has made a great choice in Paul Ryan. He is an accomplished public servant and a leading voice on the most pressing issues facing our country. Paul is one of my best friends in Congress and someone I have worked closely with as a former colleague on the House Ways & Means Committee. "Jane and I wish Paul and Janna and their kids the very best. As the Chairman of the Romney campaign in Ohio, I look forward to working with Paul to ensure that the Romney-Ryan ticket carries Ohio and is victorious in November. Most importantly, as a member of the Senate, I look forward to working closely with a Romney-Ryan Administration to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-growth policies to create jobs."</blockquote>
Obama for American Campaign Manager Jim Messina
<blockquote>"In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes."</blockquote>
Rachel Maddow MSNBC
Charles M. Blow
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee issued the following statement: <blockquote>"Paul Ryan is a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney. It gives President Obama and Democrats a chance to draw a clear contrast in 2012 by promising not to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security benefits. If Democrats win in a landslide, this was the game changer." -- Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a 1 million member grassroots organization</blockquote>
Susan B. Anthony List
The national pro-life organization released the following statement: <blockquote>"By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. "A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no 'truce' when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney's campaign. "Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections," continued Dannenfelser. "The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base - we are thrilled with this pick."</blockquote>
<blockquote>"The selection of Paul Ryan is a bold and inspired pick," said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud. "Paul Ryan has been the architect of policies that would benefit all Americans, especially gay Americans." "Paul Ryan is one of the few political leaders anywhere in the country willing to tell the American people the truth about the unprecedented budget crisis we are facing, and - more importantly - willing to put forward bold plans to put this country back on the road to fiscal solvency," continued LaSalvia.</blockquote>
Log Cabin Republicans
<blockquote>"Congressman Paul Ryan is a strong choice for vice president, and his addition to the GOP ticket will help Republican candidates up and down the ballot," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. "As chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the Republican "path to prosperity" that provided the blueprint for serious spending cuts in this Congress, nobody is more qualified to articulate a conservative economic vision to restore the American economy and stimulate job creation. </blockquote>
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Center For American Progress President Neera Tanden
<blockquote>"Just like Sen. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin and George H.W. Bush's selection of Dan Quayle, Mitt Romney has been cowed by the right wing into choosing an extreme vice presidential nominee who will alienate moderate voters. It's now clearer than ever that as president, Mitt Romney would end Medicare as we know it, and will raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000in order to slash taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While there is a lot that can be said about Paul Ryan's extreme views, more important is what this choice says about Mitt Romney: that he is unwilling or unable to stand up to the far-right of his party and select a vice-presidential candidate that is both able to be president on day one and capable of governing by reaching across the aisle."</blockquote>
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
<blockquote>"If there were ever any doubt that Mitt Romney is not on the side of working people, today's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate makes it crystal clear. With this choice, Romney has shown the American people that he believes Rep. Ryan's extremist, irresponsible and anti-worker agenda is what's right for our country. "Rep. Ryan has made a name for himself by fighting in the halls of Congress for tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations while proposing to gut vital services like Medicare and education, and eliminating any sense of retirement security for working families. His no-holds barred record of attacking seniors, children, and working men and women is frightening for the 99 percent of Americans who are not rich -- but for Mitt Romney it was a calling card to choose him as a running mate."
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan
<blockquote>"Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Ryan as his running mate reminds us of why elections matter when it comes to our ability to make personal and private medical decisions," Keenan continued. "The outcome of the 2012 presidential election very well could determine whether abortion remains legal and accessible for the next generation of American women. Romney has pledged that taking away women's rights will be a priority for him and his choice of Ryan amplifies that promise to the extreme anti-choice backers of this ticket. My organization's priority is to make sure President Obama remains in the White House."</blockquote>
Rep. Kathy Hochul
<blockquote>"Americans deserve new ideas for how we can reduce the debt and protect our seniors and the middle class. Just one year ago, Western New York voters rejected the Ryan-Collins policies that would end Medicare as we know it and hurt middle class families while giving more tax cuts to the rich. Our country needs to move forward, not re-hash failed ideas. Given Chris Collins' ongoing support for tax cuts for the rich that add nearly $1 trillion to the deficit and his willingness to send his business to China to line his pockets, it is clear my opponent is going to continue to pursue policies and priorities that have already been rejected."</blockquote>
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Chris Van Hollen
Rep. Mary Bono Mack
Rep. Trent Franks
<blockquote>"Now that Paul Ryan's personal ambition has clearly trumped his interest in the First District, I have no doubt he'll find himself out of a job come November. Once Wisconsinites and voters across our country learn the truth about Ryan's radical plot to end Medicare as we know it, de-fund women's health care, and preserve tax breaks for millionaires, they'll vote against him not just once, but twice. In the coming weeks, our campaign will work with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to continue getting the word out on Ryan's indefensible record, and building momentum to ensure victory on Election Day."</blockquote>
<blockquote>"Governor Mitt Romney made a bold and reform-minded selection in Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. This election has to be about who is going to look out for the next generation. America needs a comeback team to turn around the economy and to turn around the fiscal status of our country. Romney and Ryan have the ideas and the experience needed to take on these core issues. This is a great day for Wisconsin and an even greater day for America."</blockquote>