Republican Todd Young’s Senate campaign in Indiana released a web video on Friday poking fun at his Democratic opponent Evan Bayh for repeatedly denying his role as a lobbyist after leaving the Senate in 2011.
The ad splices clips from the acclaimed HBO comedy Veep and Bayh defending his work in Washington, D.C. to mock the Democrats’ arguments that he has never been a lobbyist.
Since entering the Senate race in Indiana to run for his old seat, Bayh has insisted that he did not serve as a D.C.-based lobbyist after deciding not to seek reelection in 2010.
Politico published a story on Thursday titled "Evan Bayh’s shadow lobbying" that details how the Democrat never registered as a lobbyist after leaving office but "used his influence to sway policy for clients of his law and lobbying firm."
Bayh has said that his opponent’s attacks on his post-Senate work are false, but Politico reported that is not the full story.
The truth is more complicated: Because of loopholes in public-disclosure laws, former senators like Bayh can use their influence routinely on behalf of high-paying clients and never have to use the word lobbyist.
Indeed, Bayh never registered as a lobbyist while working in Washington between his departure from the Senate in 2011 and trying to come back in 2016.
But he did carve out a lucrative niche in public advocacy, speaking, and corporate board positions that allowed him to wield influence as a former lawmaker with decades of policy experience. Bayh sought to sway public policy to favor clients of McGuireWoods, the law and lobbying firm where he has worked since 2011, as well as other groups he affiliated with while out of office.
Young’s new web ad uses clips from Veep’s season four episode "Testimony" to make fun of Bayh’s defense.
In the Veep episode, staffers for President Selina Meyer are called to testify before Congress about the lobbying done regarding a bill the administration had hoped to pass. The fictional scene shows members of Congress attempting to understand the semantics being employed by the staffers to not describe themselves as lobbyists even though they were lobbying for all intents and purposes.
Bayh has tried to invoke a similar defense of his work for the D.C. lobbying firm McGuireWoods. While Bayh chooses not to describe himself as a lobbyist, his duties are similar to those of a lobbyist, according to Politico and other media reports.
The ad ends by juxtaposing fictional President Meyer leaving a deposition when she is questioned about the role of her staffers as lobbyists with video of Bayh attempting to avoid questions about his own post-Senate activities.