Former lobbyist Janna Ryan.

There are a lot of people trying to tell me that Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president, Paul Ryan, is attractive. Like pretty much everybody in my office. And Google is auto-filling with “Paul Ryan Shirtless.” Considering that many of Ryan’s supporters are serious fans of noted rape-novelist Ayn Rand, I’m mildly concerned by all this pent-up Republican sexual energy being thrown Ryan’s way.

But it’s not like Ryan is on the market. He was snapped up by Janna Christine Little Ryan, back in 2000. We’re just getting to know this potential second lady. She’s being pushed by the Romney campaign as a traditional housewife who loves her children and supports her man.

No doubt, she is.

But in another life, before marriage and children, Janna Little was a tax lawyer and big-time lobbyist. She was a Washington insider, like her husband. She worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and had a controversial client roster….

If Mrs. Ryan were the wife of a Democratic candidate, I think people would be making more of her impressive professional credentials. The successful birthing is nice and all — she has three children — but we’re talking about a woman who graduated from Wellesley College and holds a law degree from George Washington University.

The Huffington Post reports on the kind of work Janna Ryan did before she was married:

Over just three years, Ryan’s 20 corporate clients paid more than $2.7 million in lobbying fees to her two employers, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Williams & Jensen, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Her client roster reads like a who’s who of some of America’s most politically polarizing corporate interests. Drug industry clients included the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Alliance (PhRMA), Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Novartis. Oil industry clients included Conoco and Marathon Oil. Big health insurance companies Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna were also on the list.

So, not only was she a lobbyist, but she appears to have been a good one.

In fact, Janna Ryan comes from a long line of lawyers, according to the Daily Beast:

Janna’s grandfather, Reuel W. Little, a lawyer and rancher, was the American Party’s candidate for governor in 1970. The Oklahoman reported on its political blog that the American Party was organized as a third party to support the presidential candidacy of Alabama’s then-segregationist governor George Wallace, and that Little was instrumental in the party’s founding in Oklahoma in the 1960s. He died in 1993 at age 92…

A more likely and powerful role model is her late mother, Prudence Little, who graduated from Wellesley with honors and was first in her class at the University of Oklahoma law school.

If we’re going to pay attention to the spouses of vice-presidential candidates at all (quick: tell me something about Jill Biden or Lynne Cheney), then shouldn’t we look at their professional and domestic accomplishments?

It seems like Janna Ryan might be an intellectual partner to Paul Ryan, not just his baby mamma.

Janna Ryan, Paul Ryan’s Wife, Lobbied For Cigar, Nuclear, Pharmaceutical Industries [Huffington Post]
Paul Ryan’s Wife Janna’s Resume, Life Before Politics & Family History [Daily Beast]
Janna Ryan steps lightly into national spotlight [Washington Post]


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