New avenue for lobbyists to reach Congress

With recent lobbying controversies as a backdrop, a new company has been launched to help government relations professionals manage their contacts with Capitol Hill.

Knowlegis will provide online software and services for lobbyists. The company's first product, called GR Tracker, will let groups manage and track all contacts with elected officials. It will include a lobby disclosure compliance function that will let customers produce information that could be required of lobbyists if Congress changes its reporting rules.

With the tool, customers can track meetings, meal expenditures and other lobbying activities, which Congress is considering making part of new lobbying disclosure reports.

Knowlegis also will assume management of Congress.org, a free service and Web site that lets users research and contact elected officials at the federal, state and local levels.

"There is a growing demand among government relations professionals at the state and federal levels for tools and services to make their interactions with elected officials simpler, faster and more effective," said Bob Hansen, president and founder of Capitol Advantage, the parent company of Knowlegis.

The company's services reflect a growing demand for lobbyists to keep in line with changes in disclosure reports, so that their activities are not called into question. In a high-profile case, Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty earlier this month to a plan to bribe members of Congress and their aides. Several Republican members of Congress who have been linked to Abramoff also are under scrutiny.

Knowlegis is the fourth firm created by Washington-based Capitol Advantage. It also owns Capitol Advantage Publishing, a producer of congressional directories; Capwiz.XC, an online grassroots tool used by associations, non-profits and corporations; and e-Advocates, which provides Internet advocacy consulting services. Capitol Advantage is transferring part of its assets to Knowlegis as part of its creation.

Brad Fitch, former deputy director of the Congressional Management Foundation and a 13-year Capitol Hill veteran, is the CEO of the new company. Barkley Kern, CEO of Capitol Advantage, will be president of Knowlegis.

Robb Hill, formerly Capitol Advantage's director of product engineering, will be its chief technology officer, while Tim Yoder, previously Capitol Advantage's director of research, will be director of research for Knowlegis.

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