Updated: 5:53 p.m.
Just hours after announcing his move to K Street, former Rep. Bart Stupak is already getting some attention for an existing client of his new firm.
The Michigan Democrat, who opposes abortion rights, is joining the law and lobbying firm Venable, which represents Planned Parenthood of Maryland. As a Member of the House, Stupak became a champion of the anti-abortion movement during last year’s debate over President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul. Stupak put the brakes on the overhaul with his amendment to bar federal funds from being used to pay for abortions, but he ultimately reached a deal on the issue with the White House.
Some in the anti-abortion community were quick to point out the Venable connection to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions. House Republicans have sought to cut federal funding for the health care provider from a spending bill to fund the government for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
Stupak called the attention on Venable’s client “much ado about nothing.” Although Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services, it mostly focuses on women’s health, preventive care and birth control counseling, and Stupak said he voted in Congress to fund the organization because of its health care work.
He also pointed out that “there are restrictions on how they use their money” — federal funds aren’t used for abortions, but for cancer screenings and other health care services.
Venable spokesman Joshua Spivak said that even if Stupak were to work for Planned Parenthood, it would be consistent with his Congressional voting record. Planned Parenthood of Maryland is not a federally registered lobbying client of Venable, but Spivak did not immediately comment on whether it is a state lobbying client in Annapolis or whether it is a legal client of the firm. Stupak has joined Venable’s D.C.-based lobbying practice.
As for why the former lawmaker selected Venable among the other firms around town, Stupak said it was the best fit, especially its work on oversight and Congressional investigations, energy, health care, and telecommunications.
Stupak must adhere to a one-year ban from lobbying Congress, and he said he was not sure whether he would become a registered lobbyist after that. “I have no objections to it,” he said. “There may be times I’ll have to go to the Capitol.”
He expects to focus on policy, legislative and legal matters.