In Paul and Janna Ryan, we have the quintessential Washington insider couple. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has spent his entire adult life working in D.C. His wife, Janna Ryan, has also made a career in politics — first as a congressional staffer (for a conservative Democrat, no less), followed by 10 years as a lobbyist. As the election draws closer, it is worth examining Mrs. Ryan's political history in addition to her husband's.
Mrs. Ryan hails from Oklahoma, where her family has long been involved in conservative Democratic politics. In fact, her grandfather helped found the American Party in 1968, which carried five states with its candidate for President, George Wallace, in that year's election. The American Party championed "states rights" — code for segregation.
Mrs. Ryan's uncle, former Senator David Boren (D-Okla.) was a foriegn policy advisor to then-Senator Obama during his 2008 run for the White House. He is currently the co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board. The other co-chair is retired Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).
Her cousin is Representative Dan Boren (D-Okla.), a member of the conservative Blue Dog caucus who announced his retirement in June. (Dan Boren's father was once Governor of Oklahoma.)
Even beyond her family ties, Janna Ryan has firmly established herself in political spheres. Before marrying Paul Ryan, she spent her time in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist.
Now, there is nothing wrong with being a lobbyist per se. However, when you are a lobbyist for big pharma, big insurance, and nuclear power plants, as Janna Ryan was, questions concerning where your loyalties lie are bound to arise.
Take, for example, Mrs. Ryan's work with the Cigar Association of America and the National Association of Convenience Store Operators. Here are two industry trade groups which paid over half a million dollars to forestall efforts by Congress to put the same warning labels that appear on cigarette labels on cigar packaging, despite the fact that cigars have more nicotine and more cancer-causing agents than cigarettes. Ryan's lobbying efforts with the trade groups were quite successful, as those warnings are nowhere to be found on cigars today. In fact, according to the CDC, cigar consumption increased 233% between 2000 and 2011, while cigarette consumption declined by 33% over the same time period.
There you have it: your 2012 Republican nominees for vice president and second lady of the United States, Paul and Janna Ryan.