WASHINGTON — Former San Joaquin Valley congressman George Radanovich has a new political gig, and it's one he can do right from his Mariposa home.
On Tuesday, Radanovich announced he'll be serving as senior adviser to a newly formed government relations firm called The DEH Group. Radanovich said he won't be lobbying, but rather guiding clients through the Capitol Hill jungle.
"There are some folks who genuinely do not know how to traverse the issues, and they need to know who to get in front of," Radanovich said in an interview.
The DEH Group currently consists of Radanovich and former congressional staffer and trade association lobbyist David Hebert. The two men were neighbors in northern Virginia during part of Radanovich's 16-year congressional career, which ended with Radanovich's retirement in January.
Even after he moved back to Mariposa following the 2010 death of his wife Ethie, Radanovich said he stayed in touch with Hebert. He also kept hearing from Californians who needed some kind of congressional help.
"I've been contacted by a number of folks who have Washington issues, and it was nice to be able to have someone like Dave I could hook them up with," Radanovich said. "Most of these people have come to me when I'm out and about; I haven't had to look for them."
Most recently, Hebert worked as senior vice president for the American Health Care Association. Hebert said the association has now signed up as a client with the DEH Group, along with the California Association of Health Facilities and the Fresno-based Century Builders.
Radanovich formerly served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is partly responsible for health policy, telecommunications and a wide array of other issues.
"George has a great background," Hebert said. "He understands very well how the system works, and he understands the issues that are important to members."
Congressional ethics rules prohibit Radanovich from directly lobbying his former colleagues for one year following his departure from the House. This means he "may not seek official action on behalf of anyone else by either communicating with or appearing before" former colleagues, according to the House Ethics Manual.
"By contrast, if a former official plays a background role, does not appear in person or convey his or her name on any communications, the law does not appear to prohibit that person from advising those who seek official action from the Congress," the manual adds.
Rick Lehman, the Democratic incumbent who Radanovich beat in 1994 to take the House seat, likewise became a California-based consultant for various clients following his departure from Congress.
Lehman, like Radanovich, also lived in the Sierra Nevada after he left Congress. Lehman, though, has periodically registered as a Washington lobbyist, which Radanovich said he has no interest in becoming. Radanovich, who turns 56 on Monday, said he instead wants to spend part of his time advocating the view that the decline of the United States cannot be solved through the federal government.
Washington, in other words, is not a place Radanovich expects to be spending a lot more time in, even while he helps other people understand the place.
"I don't miss it a bit, not at all," Radanovich said. "Been there, done that."