Archive for August, 2015

Planned Parenthood Controversy Continues

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

THE RELEASE OF a series of controversial videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the organization’s fetal tissue donation program continue to stir up dissent. The videos, which were filmed undercover by the Center for Medical Process, have led to a battle over Planned Parenthood’s funding. Social conservative members of the Republican Party have promised to not support any funding bill which includes financial support for Planned Parenthood, potentially leading to another government shutdown with current funding set to expire on Sept. 30, 2015. According to The Hill, Presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has vowed to lead the fight against the organization, saying, “the Department of Justice needs to investigate and prosecute Planned Parenthood for any potential criminal actions of commercial trafficking of fetal organs.”

Similarly in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is facing an uprising from conservative members of his party who, like Sen. Cruz, refuse to vote for a spending plan that includes funds for Planned Parenthood.  Politico reports, Speaker Boehner would prefer “prefer to build bipartisan opposition to funding the group through a series of high-profile Congressional investigations.”

Speaker Boehner’s office itself became embroiled in video scandal when it was reported that Charlotte Ivancic, Speaker Boehner’s health policy director was related to Cate Dyer (they are sisters). Cate Dyer is the founder and CEO of StemExpress, and she was also featured in the videos released by the Center for Medical Process due to her organization’s connection to Planned Parenthood. On August 5th Charlotte Ivancic left Speaker Boehner’s office to work for lobbying firm Tarplin, Downs & Young according to reports from The Hill.

Planned Parenthood, which Politico reports has spent nearly $1.3 million on lobbying during the first six months of 2015, according to federal disclosures, has hired public relations firm SKDKickerbocker to help manage with the on-going situation. The organization also has Capitol Council, a D.C. based lobbying firm on retainer.

Who’s Backing Hillary?

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 by James Cameron

 DONALD TRUMP AND the Republican primaries have dominated the news cycle recently, but Hillary Clinton has quietly outraised any other candidate on K Street, as The Hill reports.  Clinton received more than $600,000 from more than 300 different registered lobbyists and PACs in the first half of 2015, outpacing the next closest candidate (Jeb Bush) by nearly $200,000 and by double the number of contributors. More intriguing, though, is which industries have contributed the most to Clinton’s campaign so far.

As The Intercept notes, private prison companies have been among the top donors and organizers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign fund. Although Clinton has increasingly moved leftward, particularly with regard to her views on police and criminal justice reform, advocates are growing concerned that the contributions from private prison companies will color her views in that regard. Indeed, we’ve expressed concern about the pernicious influence of private prison companies on the criminal justice system in this country. It remains to be seen how much their contributions will impact Clinton’s views and policies, though.

Despite her unequivocal support of climate change reform, including naming it as one of her top priorities should she be elected President, Clinton has also received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, as Mother Jones reports. Clinton has called climate change “consequential, urgent, [the most] sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world.” Despite this, she has been hammered by activists over her perceived support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, as well as the speaking fees she accepted by Canadian banks that support the pipeline. On the other hand, the fossil fuels industry has some of the deepest pockets around, and it’s unlikely that any candidate in this election hasn’t received money from the industry at one point or another.

So, how concerned should criminal justice reformers and climate change advocates be about the apparent contradictions between Hillary Clinton’s policy positions and her campaign contributors? At this juncture, not too concerned. Clinton isn’t the first candidate to hold positions that directly oppose the interests of her campaign contributors, and she certainly won’t be the last in this election cycle. Even so, reformers should stay informed on who’s giving money to whom, and Lobby Blog will continue to track these issues for key candidates leading up to the next Presidential election.

Grassroots Advocacy – The Key to Your Success

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

Now that presidential campaign 2016 season is in full swing, not only have we started to see a flood of advocacy efforts on behalf of the candidates, but from an enormous and ever increasing pool of different organizations and interests groups. For example, by now we are all familiar with advocacy groups such as Veterans Against the Deal, which has launched an ad campaign opposing the Iran nuclear deal and groups like Global Zero, which has also launched a series of ads, but in support of the deal.

But in today’s highly competitive and well-funded advocacy environment reaching the right audience, building a strong coalition of support, and achieving your goal is no easy task. So, how will you get your voice heard? The answer is through a successful grassroots advocacy campaign, a quintessential tool for today’s advocacy and government relations professionals. However, the nature of grassroots advocacy is constantly changing and adapting. Where does one start today?

This is where Lobbyists.info and Association TRENDS comes to the rescue with their new online e-learning course, Grassroots Advocacy Strategies & Techniques Deep Dive. In this 8-week course, Stephanie Vance—one of America’s foremost experts on grassroots advocacy—teaches today’s best grassroots advocacy strategies.

From where advocacy fits into your government relations program and policy agenda, to how to deploy your plan far less expensively than through traditional lobbying, you’ll actually build a plan for engaging more members and achieving change.

The highly interactive course includes video clips, readings, and a 24/7 discussion board with fellow attendees. You’ll take graded quizzes each week, fill out worksheets for homework assignments, and have weekly call-in times where you can speak directly with the instructor if you desire. Not only will you come away with an actual advocacy plan built on today’s absolute smartest strategies, you’ll have Stephanie Vance’s feedback on that plan. Each student will also receive a copy of the Advocacy Handbook (a $329 value) as a course reference guide.

Jeb Is Bringing Home the Bacon

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 by James Cameron

AFTER WEEKS OF JOSTLING for a position in Fox News’ first presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle,  the results are in.  According to Fox, based on an average of the five most recent national polls, the candidates in the 9:00PM, prime-time debate will be, “real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Despite trailing Donald Trump in the polls, Jeb Bush should feel confident about his position going into the debate. Discussing the prospect of debating Trump and the other Republican contenders Bush said, “I’m a big boy… I’ll be showing up with my big boy pants on.”

So far Bush has run a very successful financial operation with his dedicated Right to Rise Super PAC raising an enormous $103 million in contributions during the first six months of the year. The Washington Post reports that this also includes “$811,000 from lobbyists and lobby firms.” This accounts for less than 1% of the PAC’s total fundraising, but is still very impressive when one takes into account the strong stance Bush took on lobbying, which Lobby Blog has previously reported on. His suggested industry reforms have not seemed to affect his support among the industry as the Post reports, “Right to Rise brought in $523,325 from lobby firms and $282,850 from 107 lobbyists, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures filed Friday.”

Among Republican candidates Bush received the most amount of support (over three times more) from the lobbying industry followed by Chris Christie and Scott Walker. Christie raised “$219,000 from 42 lobbyists and nine lobby firms” and their affiliated PACs while Scott Walker raised “$102,000 from three lobbyists and firms — $100,000 of which came from Elizabeth Dunn of the consulting and communications firm FTI Consulting, which has a lobbying division.”