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Former US representative seeks Kansas businesses to expand lobbying, consulting firm

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TOPEKA, Kansas — A former U.S. representative is leading a lobbying and consulting firm, which has sent letters to several Kansas businesses offering to represent their interests before the state legislature.

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt's firm, Tiahrt Enterprises LLC, sent the letters seeking new clients April 20 to businesses that already contract with lobbyists, The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1ErZYVr) reported.

Tiahrt recently became senior vice president O'Neill and Associates, a Washington, D.C. firm that provides lobbying and other services for businesses at the state and federal levels.

But Tiahrt Enterprises is a separate venture, and Tiahrt isn't a lobbyist for the firms, he said. He was hired as a consultant to advise people on how to talk to the federal government, instead of speaking directly to the federal government himself, according to Tiahrt.

"Tiahrt Enterprises employs a lobbyist, Robert Noland, who services the clients that we have. I advise and he carries out the work," Tiahrt said.

State law requires lobbyists to register in Kansas, but consultants don't have to. The same rule applies at the federal level.

The campaign for U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, Tiahrt's opponent during a primary election last year, claimed Tiahrt has been working as a quasi-lobbyist since leaving Congress. Tiahrt has continued to dispute that allegation.

"I've never lobbied. I didn't take a lobbying job . I work for a firm that does lobbying. I don't personally do it. It doesn't bother me that people do it. We have a constitutional right to petition our government guaranteed by the First Amendment," he said.

Tiahrt Enterprises registered with the Kansas Secretary of State's Office in 2011, but Tiahrt said he didn't hire a lobbyist until this fall.

Tiahrt served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2011.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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