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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Jolly touts work with lawmakers

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Plenty of politicians have become lobbyists, but the reverse is pretty rare.

David Jolly, a former aide to congressman C.W. “Bill” Young, is hoping to make that leap, and he says his experience working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is an asset.

Jolly, 41, was born in Dunedin and graduated from Pasco High School in Dade City before heading to Atlanta, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history.

He began working for Young in 1995, and became his legal counsel until Young’s death in October. Over the course of those nearly two decades, Jolly earned his law degree from George Mason University School of Law in 2001, ran several businesses, including communications and consulting firms, and headed a group that manages planned charitable giving for athletes and wealthy families. He’s now vice president at Clearwater-based Boston Finance Group, where he’s been for more than a year and a half.

Jolly, who is divorced and has no children, said he bought a home in Indian Shores in 2005 and became a full-time Pinellas County resident the following year.

Jolly touts his ability and willingness to work with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and said he would not have supported the government shutdown that took place in October. Still, he said he would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often derisively referred to as Obamacare, even if there were no replacement for it.

“What happened with Obamacare and where it strikes fear into me is what it does for our form of government in that we now have said, ‘You don’t have a choice in the marketplace,’” he said. “All that Obamacare did was say, ‘Now you have to have this and you have to pay for it.’”

Some GOP critics have been skeptical of Jolly because he has donated money to Democratic Congressional campaigns, something he defends.

“I registered as a Republican when I was old enough to vote, I remained a Republican ever since,” he said in an interview with The Tampa Tribune editorial board. “But when I registered as a Republican I never subscribed to the notion that Democrats are always wrong. Because I know that’s not true. ... In competitive Republican races I have never supported a Democrat.”

Jolly supported disgraced Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., a contribution he said he regrets.

“I knew him, I had a personal relationship with him and his staff,” he said. “It turned out he was a fraud and he belongs in jail. I regret that.”

Jolly also has had to fend off criticism from local Republicans who fear he lacks local recognition to stand out against Democrat Alex Sink, who until weeks ago lived nearly an hour outside the district. But he said, despite having a law firm in Washington, he spends the majority of his time in Pinellas. “I would say I spend four days a month in D.C.,” he said.

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