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St. Maria Goretti grad lobbies for learning

March 30, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - For one St. Maria Goretti graduate, lobbying and taxes are close to a certainty.

Anna Binau, a 21-year-old Hagerstown native, is plotting a future in fields that combine her passions - accounting and politics. As an intern at the American Iron and Steel Institute, the St. Mary's College junior said she is observing government from the perspective of a lobbyist group.

"They help to actually push along a cause. They expose a congressman to a cause and provide (him) as much information as possible," said Binau, who talked by phone during a break from her duties about a week ago.

The salutatorian of St. Maria Goretti's Class of 2004, Binau said she has been interested in participating in Washington Semester - a college-credit program that exposes students to the workings of government - since she first learned about the program. In addition to working at the institute, Binau said, she is taking a class this semester.

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For the semester, which ends in May, she is living in Arlington, Va.

Matt Davison, manager of government relations for the institute, said Binau has chronicled the discussions at congressional hearings on issues, such as climate change and trade with China, that affect the steel industry.

"I think for her, it's just an understanding of the federal government and Congress," Davison said.

Davison said the institute takes on interns every semester. Binau is one of six people in the office in which he works.

"I think she's got a good understanding of Congress and the membership and the leadership and who's from where," Davison said.

A political science major with minors in accounting and philosophy, Binau said she is thinking about studying tax law at a Washington, D.C., university. Eventually, she would like to work in the private sector, which she said she believes would give her more opportunity to focus on particular issues.

Despite recent scandals involving lobbyists, Binau expressed respect for the industry. Some representatives come to public hearings with their own agenda, Binau said, but others are willing to listen to the information lobbyists provide.

"I think it's a really good tool for creating really good legislation and bettering our system of government," Binau said.

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