WASHINGTON -- Washington pension lobbyists follow the "Do as I say, not as I do" maxim. At least in the voting booth.
Strange as it might seem, while the business community traditionally has preferred the hands-off, minimalist regulatory style of Republicans, many of its pension-related lobbyists vote Democrat.
At the American Benefits Council in Washington, James M. Delaplane Jr., vice president of retirement policy; and Lynn D. Dudley, vice president and senior counsel, vote Democratic.
Mr. Delaplane was the legislative counsel for Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., until he joined the association two years ago. Ms. Dudley calls herself a "raging moderate" Democrat.
Meanwhile, across town, Janice Gregory, vice president at the ERISA Industry Committee, a former Texan and a longtime member of the Texas State Society, went to the society's sold-out Black Tie and Boots ball for Mr. Bush Jan. 19. Yet she, too, is a Democrat. Ms. Gregory, who once worked for former Rep. Jake Pickle, D-Texas, said the state society holds an inaugural ball every four years, regardless of the party affiliation of the new president.
Interestingly, David Certner, the top lobbyist on pension and retirement issues at the AARP, is a registered Independent. "We pride ourselves on the non-partisan nature of the things we do," he said.
However, both Ed Ferrigno and Samuel H. Murray, who lobby for the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America, are Republican. So is Liz Liess, vice president and director of retirement policy at the Securities Industry Association and previously counsel to the Senate Special Committee on Aging under the chairmanship of Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.
Kathleen E. Havey, manager of pension policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a former senior legislative aide to Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, R-Conn., a member of the powerful House tax-writing committee, also is a Republican.
So, too, is Brian H. Graff, executive director of the American Society of Pension Actuaries in Arlington, Va., who worked as legislative counsel to the Joint Committee on Taxation in the mid-1990s.
And while Ann Combs, a Republican, is, strictly speaking, not a lobbyist, she is the top pensions person at the American Council of Life Insurance, the industry trade group in Washington.
Ms. Combs, who was deputy assistant secretary of pensions in President George H.W. Bush's administration in the early 1990s, is rumored to be the leading candidate for the Labor Department's assistant secretary of pensions spot in his son's administration.
Mr. Graff, who said he probably is more moderate than some of the other lobbyists in town, said the reason so many pension lobbyists are Democrat is quite simple. For 40 years, until 1994, Democrats controlled the House, and - with the exception of a few years in the mid-1980s - the Senate as well, so many of the lobbyists who are Capitol Hill alumni are Democrats.
"Most everybody in this town is a Democrat," Mr. Graff said, laughing.
Moreover, until 1996, pension and retirement legislation generally was aimed at cutting back on the preferential tax treatment of pensions, and on imposing regulations and restrictions on plan sponsors, so that Democrats representing employers probably had freer access to Democratic lawmakers, Mr. Graff said. "If you're playing defensive, it helps to have someone who understands the Democratic perspective."
To be sure, pension and retirement lobbyists say their political affiliations don't really matter, since retirement issues tend to be driven more by policy considerations than politics.
James A Klein, who is president of the American Benefits Council and who once served as legislative assistant for Rep. John D. LaFalce, D-N.Y., is widely believed to be a Democrat, but he declined to divulge his political affiliation. "I am a member of the Free Love party," he joked.
Mark J. Ugoretz, the ERISA Industry Committee's president, a fervent anti-regulation, anti-government pension lobbyist, also is widely believed to be Democrat. But he isn't talking. "It's none of your business," he said.