After a long career working for congressional Republicans, Scott Parkinson is seeking his party’s 2024 nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. While Parkinson claims to be an experienced fighter against what he calls the Washington, D.C., “swamp,” he is accepting thousands of dollars in campaign donations from registered lobbyists.
During his first presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised a series of ethics reforms designed to tighten the rules governing federal lobbyists and shake up the political establishment. He told supporters in an Oct. 18, 2016, speech, “We’re going to end the government corruption and we’re going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.” Since that time, Republicans have frequently adopted similar rhetoric to attack their opponents.
Parkinson, who announced his Senate candidacy in April, has a long record as part of the D.C. Republican establishment, having worked for Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), then-Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, former Nevada Sen. John Ensign, the House Republican Study Committee, and the right-wing Club for Growth, according to the AP.
On his campaign website’s “Meet Scott” page, however, Parkinson’s campaign describes him as an outsider fighting the establishment.
“Scott has 18 years experience taking on the swamp to advance the conservative movement,” it notes. “Scott believes it is time for new conservative leaders like him to step up and run for political office because too many career politicians like Tim Kaine and Joe Biden have failed the American People and are completely disconnected from economic and cultural reality.”
His ads use the tagline: “Outsider. Conservative. Dad.”
Parkinson has often used the term “swamp” in his tweets. In December 2022 he wrote: “The Uniparty Swamp in Washington is scrambling to complete an Omnibus appropriations bill this week. What’s driving the negotiations forward? Earmarks. The currency of corruption.”
A Parkinson spokesperson did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation inquiry for this story.
A review of his campaign finances by the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century found that Parkinson reported taking more than $14,000 from registered lobbyists in the second quarter of 2023. (Disclosure: The American Independent Foundation is a partner organization of American Bridge.)
Among those contributions were $3,300 from Greenberg Traurig lobbyist Monica Schulteis, whose clients include Dell Technologies and CEDIA, the trade association for the smart home technology industry.
Parkinson also received $500 from Hazen Marshall of Marshall Popp LLC, whose clients include tobacco giant Altria and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Parkinson will face other Republicans, including 2022 congressional candidate Hung Cao, in the contest for the GOP nomination. Election analysts predict the winner will face an uphill race against Kaine.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.