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It’s a question on the minds of many Americans of late—why can’t the people on Capitol Hill seem to get anything done?

Jay Sullivan has some insights. He’s spent an entire career working with the D.C. establishment, hobnobbing with politicians, publicists, administration officials, lobbyists and more. We asked him how bipartisan cooperation has evolved over the past 15 years.

“This is the worst it’s been,” he replied. “People on both sides of the aisle have run to the ends of the political spectrum. The people in the so-called middle, who actually have an ideology, make good policy and strike deals with the other side to keep things moving, are often lost in the shuffle.”

But as a founding partner of Jamison and Sullivan Inc., a D.C.-based lobbying firm, Sullivan’s job is to cut through the complications and send a clear message to policy-makers. The firm represents a wide range of clients, dealing most frequently with issues surrounding energy, natural resources and technology.

Sullivan spends most of his time either on the phone with clients or visiting policy-makers at the U.S. Capitol Building, which is just a block away from his office. He’s pursuing a simple goal. “We’re trying to create a more equitable business environment,” he explained.  “There are so many government regulations, rules and royalties—we’re trying to make it a little fairer so people can get back to work.”

Sullivan noted that while many lobbyists are facing a tough economic environment in Congress, his firm has adapted well. “We used to try to simply find money for our clients,” he said. “And though we still do that, it’s much more difficult with earmark rules. And these days there’s just not a lot of new money available. So it’s more about framing issues, managing messages and positioning clients—for Congress and for the public—in a more favorable spot to move forward.  I'd still compare our success rate with anyone in the business.”

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