I met with Paul Kanitra on a cold fall day at the Capitol Hill Lounge. His boyish face and slight New Jersey accent, combined with a surprising height, make him a physical poster boy for the fast-talking Washington lobbyist. However, his wealth of experiences, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion for breaking the mold when it comes to the business of government make him a unique force to be reckoned with.
At 34-years old, Kanitra has enough experience in the world of lobbying to know the game, but is not so old as to be stuck in the rut of business as usual that seems to capture so many K Streeters. “Lobbying is not progressive,” he told me. “It’s very much a closed off old boys club. The business hasn’t changed much since electricity came to Washington.” Kanitra’s firm Lobbyit.com however, is looking to change all that. In Kanitra’s own words, Lobbyit.com is the WalMart of government relations to Patton Bogg’s Bloomingdales.
Launched in 2009, Lobbyit.com is unique in the sense that it is the only lobbying firm in D.C. to offer its clients set prices. Based on a tier system, with the cheapest package going for just $995 a month, smaller associations can have a presence on Capitol Hill without breaking the bank. The higher, more expensive tiers offer more comprehensive services, including more meetings with members, and local, state and federal bill tracking.
Kanitra’s passion for story telling is palpable when talking to him. As is his desire to make his own path in Washington. He cut his teeth as an inexperienced 24-year old at the Associated Locksmiths of America. “I was able to learn a lot while I was doing it,” he said of his first job in the world of government relations. “I knew I didn’t want to do the traditional Washington path of studying hard on the Hill in only one area and then jumping ship to go to K Street.”