In her last debate with Charles Djou, Colleen Hanabusa said that Djou participated in “Washington’s revolving door” by working at a lobbying firm after losing his seat in Congress.

“You helped form a Washington lobbying company the same month you left office in 2010,” Hanabusa said. “It was called, I think, the Majority Group. Their website listed you as a senior adviser.”

Djou responded forcibly.

“Let me make this very, very clear,” he said. “I was not a lobbyist. I was never a registered lobbyist. The implication that my opponent is trying to make is simply described in one word — wrong.”

So what’s the real story?

Hanabusa’s reference to “Washington’s revolving door” speaks to the high incidence of former public sector employees leaving to work as lobbyists and consultants, and vice versa.

The practice has been criticized as a way of keeping money and power within the same circles. Former mayor Mufi Hannemann came under fire earlier this year for his association with lobbying in Washington, D.C.

Roll Call reported in June 2011 that Djou was one of many former members of Congress working in the political “influence industry.”

The Hawaii Reporter reported in March 2011 that Djou formed a company called Majority Group in January 2011.

That’s the same month that Djou left office after seven months as Hawaii’s First Congressional District representative., a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency, lists Majority Group in its database of lobbying firms. Djou is not listed as a registered lobbyist in the same database.

Djou told the Hawaii Reporter in March 2011 that he was a senior adviser in the firm. Djou said during the debate with Hanabusa that his work was limited to advising rather than lobbying.

The law prohibits congressmen from lobbying within a year after leaving office.

BOTTOM LINE: Hanabusa was correct that Djou helped form a lobbying firm the same month he left public office. Civil Beat finds Hanabusa’s assertion to be TRUE.

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