Thursday, February 09, 2006

Records Show New House Majority Leader John Boehner Rents Washington Aparment From Lobbyist

ABC News
Records Show Boehner Rents From Lobbyist
Records Show New House Majority Leader John Boehner Rents Washington Aparment From Lobbyist
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader John Boehner rents a basement apartment from a lobbyist whose clients had an interest in legislation overseen or sponsored by Boehner, according to lobbying records.

Boehner, R-Ohio, pays $1,600 a month rent for the apartment owned by lobbyist John Milne and his wife, Debra Anderson, Boehner spokesman Don Seymour Jr. said.

"It is conceivable that John Milne may have lobbied Boehner on a few occasions over the years, but we are not aware of any specific instances of it, and we are certain no lobbying has taken place during the time in which John Boehner has been renting the property," Seymour said.

Boehner, elected majority leader by his Republican colleagues last week, is involved in GOP efforts to reform lobbying rules, a consequence of influence peddling by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a Capitol Hill corruption investigation after pleading guilty last month to conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud.

Milne did not respond to a request for comment.

Lobbying records show that he represented Buca di Beppo and Parasole Restaurant Holdings Inc. both restaurant companies to lobby on the minimum wage, an issue handled by the Education and the Workforce Committee chaired by Boehner. The restaurant industry has opposed increases in the minimum wage, which has not risen since 1997.

Milne also represented the parent company, Buca Inc., to lobby for the Small Business Tax Fairness Act, which had provisions to quicken tax breaks for restaurant buildings. While the measure did not go through Boehner's committee, he was among the sponsors. The proposed speedup in depreciation is a major objective for the restaurant industry.

Seymour, the Boehner spokesman, said the rental price of the apartment represented a fair market value, based on similar rental costs in the area near the U.S. Capitol.

He said that Boehner first met Debra Anderson during the early 1990s when she worked in the administration of George H.W. Bush and met Milne in the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the House Republican Conference, composed of all the Republicans in the chamber, named a registered lobbyist for the Securities Industry Association as its chief of staff.

Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, cited Rachel Robinson's experience, not only as a vice president of the securities trade group but as a director of operations for former Rep. Newt Gingrich when he was speaker of the House.