Archive for the ‘Celebrity Lobbyists’ Category

The Hastert Scandal and Dickstein Shapiro

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

On Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2015 former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) pled guilty to lying to the FBI in a hush-money scheme. According to Fox Hastert agreed to “a deal with federal prosecutors that recommends he serve no more than six months in prison and averting a trial in the case.” It has been widely reported that the payments were meant for an individual as part of an agreement between the individual and Hastert to conceal decades old claims of sexual misconduct.

Hastert was elected Speaker of the House in 1999 after a scandal in the Speaker’s race involving, the Speaker-elect Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) in December 1998.  Time reports that after an ad was posted in the Washington Post “offering $1 million to any woman who presented evidence that she had had an affair with a high-ranking government official,” several people came forward say they had affairs with Rep. Livingston. This effectively ended Rep. Livingston’s bid for the Speakership and led to his now infamous announcement “I have on occasion strayed from my marriage.” Following the downfall of Rep. Livingston, Hastert became the clear choice for Speaker. Once elected Speaker of the House, Hastert went on to hold the position for a Republican record of eight years (1999-2007).

After the 2006 election Democrats took control of the House of Representatives leading to Hastert’s decision to resign his seat in the House. The Chicago Tribune reports that “six months after Hastert left Congress, a Washington-based law and lobbying firm, Dickstein Shapiro, announced in May 2008 that Hastert was joining its team as a senior adviser, though he had to wait to become a lobbyist because of a federally mandated cooling-off period.” During his tenure as a lobbyist for Dickstein Hastert was able to grow both his wealth and lobbying reputation, earning the label of “the eclectic lobbyist” from The Center for Responsive Politics.

In May, when Hastert was first indicted he immediately resigned from his position at Dickstein Shapiro, however the damage may have already been done. Still recovering from the loss of several lobbyists to rival firm Greenberg Traurig in the summer of 2014, Hastert was a key figure in Dickstein Shapiro’s plans to rebuild its lobbying practice. However, the Washington Post reports that “five lobbying clients have ended their relationship with Dickstein since July — significant, considering the firm had just 10 lobbying clients on record this year. One of those five clients, Fuels America — a coalition advocating for renewable fuel standards — was Hastert’s client.” This has led Dickstein Shapiro’s chairman Jim Kelly to say, “We are evaluating the strategic direction of our public policy practice…We have a solid group of people upon which to build if we determine additional resources are necessary to serve our clients. Currently, we are happy with our group and the clients we serve.”

Association TRENDS is seeking YOUR Help!

Friday, August 24th, 2012 by Vbhotla

Association TRENDS seeks nominations for its annual Leading Association Lobbyists list.

The criteria is simple: Someone you believe is doing his or her association well on Capitol Hill. Success on issues? Sure, but this GR professional also is a formidable relationship builder and communicates well. The person is well-regarded by peers, legislators and staff members. This professional can be on-staff at an association or in a hired firm representing an association.

This nomination is for the accomplished, effective lobbying professional of any age, however, if you know of someone who might be considered an up-and-comer, please name that lobbyist as well.

Please, no self-nominations.

Deadline is Sept. 12. To nominate or for questions, contact managing editor Ed Dalere at 202 464 1662 x116, or

Celebrity Lobbyist Alert: Tom Morello

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by Vbhotla

Rage Against the Machine’s lead guitarist is getting into labor advocacy with the release of a solo CD, “Union Town,” an eight song debut effort, which includes three original tracks.  Morello, who has been active in pro-labor events across the nation, drew inspiration from the CD from the recent union protests in Wisconsin, and the album’s proceeds will benefit the America Votes Labor Unity Fund.

TomMorello performs at a pro-labor rally in L.A. in March (image from Flickr).

In an interview with Politico‘s Chris Frates, Morello said that he hopes the CD will help spark a debate and fuel the labor movement, “steel the backbone of an emerging labor movement with the kind of teeth that can really stand up to working class rights in this country.”

He hopes that the recent rallies in Madison and across the country will lead to a resurgence in activity around the issue.  “My hope is to encourage the labor movement to not become diluted by politics as usual. This is a chance to not just stop some bad legislation but to really Buy Cialis put some wind in the sails of progressive working class issues and to take back the populist narrative from the misappropriation by the tea party,” he said.

Morello, a Harvad grad who studied political science and worked on the Hill for a short period of time, once considered a career in politics.  He told Frates this anecdote about the end of his political ambitions:

“The reason why I chose a career in music instead of politics, I’ll tell you a quick story that illuminates that. I was working for a senator and one day this woman called up and she had a complaint that there were Mexicans moving into her neighborhood. And I, thinking I was standing up for all the things that Sen. (Alan) Cranston stood for, I said, ‘Ma’am you’re a racist and you can go to hell.’ And the next two weeks I got yelled at by everybody up and down the political food chain. And it was crystal clear to me at that moment if I couldn’t tell a racist to go to hell, that I was in the wrong business.”

US Olympic Committee heads to the Hill

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by Vbhotla

The USOC will pair up with the Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus today at 1pm to host a free-throw contest in room 2226 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  The contest, which was scheduled to coincide with the beginning of March Madness, will raise awareness about US Olympic Committee programs and their impact on Team USA’s success.

Joining Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus founders and co-chairs Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.),  Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) will be several Olympic and Paralympic champions.

Olympic gold winners Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track & field), Christian Laettner (men’s basketball), Evan Lysacek (figure skating), Shawn Johnson (women’s gymnastics), Teresa Edward (women’s basketball), and Andy Yohe live sex free web cam (sled hockey) will join the Congressmen and staffers on the court.  Paralympic track and field athletes April Holmes (gold), Marlon Shirley (gold), Lex Gillette (silver) and  Carlos Leon (wounded veteran) will also participate, along with fellow paralympians William “Spanky” Gibson (USOC Paralympic Military Program Athlete), and Alana Nichols, who has won gold medals in skiing and basketball.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said via the event’s official press release, “Olympians and Paralympians are a special type of people, committed to ideas like excellence, friendship and respect. I encourage anyone able, to come test their skills against some of America’s greatest role models.”

There has been some speculation about which Congressman will win the competition, but insiders say Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) has the competition locked up.

Swayze’s widow lobbies for cancer research

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 by Vbhotla

Lisa Niemi Swayze, widow of “Dirty Dancing” star Patrick Swayze, took to the Hill last week to lobby for the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act,  introduced last Wednesday in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Lisa Niemi Swayze, wife of actor Patrick Swayze, speaks about pancreatic cancer research in front of a projected image of her and her husband, Feb. 16, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The bill calls for the National Cancer Institute to develop a strategic plan every five years to conduct and support research and awareness promotion under the supervision of the Department of Health and Human Services.  It would “amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for a Pancreatic Cancer Initiative,” according to the bill’s text.  It also makes provisions for five year research grants, with aniston pokies $5,000,000 in authorized grant appropriations for fiscal year 2012, and an additional $20,000,000 authorized for centers of excellence,  (in the Senate version).

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said in a statement, “Despite the terrifying statistics, it’s still one of the most overlooked types of cancer and research continues to be underfunded while the death toll climbs.”  The five year survival rate for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is just 6%.

Others active on the issue include the American Cancer Society and its various regional subsidiaries, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various universities and cancer societies.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has a lobby day scheduled for June 13-14, 2011 and is urging those impacted by the disease to plan to attend.

Patrick Swayze died in 2009, 22 months after being diagnosed with the disease.

George Clooney: Hollywood front man and…lobbyist?

Monday, January 10th, 2011 by Vbhotla

Known for his role in some of Hollywood’s top blockbusters, George Clooney is no stranger to Washington.  While Clooney himself is not actually a registered lobbyist, he has visited the White House to discuss his favorite issue: the genocide in Darfur.  Just over a month after President Obama was inaugurated, Clooney visited the president and Vice President Biden to discuss the crisis in the region.

While not as outwardly vocal as other celebrity lobbyists, including Lady Gaga, Clooney, through “Not on Our Watch,” a monitoring organization he co-founded along with fellow Ocean’s trilogy actors Don Cheadle and Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt, David Pressman, and Jerry Weintraub, seeks “to focus global attention and resources towards putting an end to mass atrocities around the world,” according to the organization’s website.

The organization is a grassroots organization, urging citizens to contact elected officials, including President Obama, and encourage the US to take action on these issues.

Celebs Lobby Against DADT

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by Vbhotla

This week, a federal appeals court struck down an earlier ruling repealing the military’s long-standing “Don’t Ask,

Lady Gaga uses her international stardom to speak out against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Don’t Tell” policy.  Time magazine reports that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court that stayed the ban on openly gay military personnel, is “regarded as one of the most liberal in the land.”  Tell that to Lt. Dan Choi and other gay and lesbian soldiers ousted by the military recently.

Lady Gaga, an openly bisexual pop star, has led the charge of celebrities fighting DADT.  She has been the most vocal advocate on the subject, it seems, pulling stunts like wearing a meat dress to symbolize her belief that if not repealed, the policy reduces the LGBT rights to equal those allotted a piece of meat, and recording a seven minute advocacy video.

Russel Simmons also joined the fight, penning an open letter to Pres. Obama for Huffington Post, urging him to “fix” the policy, and “take the fight to the right.”

Interestingly, neither Lady Gaga nor Russell Simmons has filed an LD-1 or -2 form, making them merely advocates, and not officially lobbyists.  Unless, of course, they are lobbying and think their celebrity status will save them from repercussions related to not filing.

Other entities embroiled in the fight against DADT include the American Nurses Association and the  American Bar Association.

The changing of Congress following yesterday’s election is expected to play a major part in the future of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation.

Lobbying for Love

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 by Brittany
Elizabeth Gilbert

Credit: Erik Charlton, Menlo Park

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, will be lobbying in Washington next month. 

Gilbert will be on Capitol Hill supporting the organization Immigration Equality, and their work on the Uniting American Families Act. The act would give foreign-born, same-sex partners of US citizens the same rights currently reserved for straight couples in the same situation.

Gilbert herself married a Brazilian man (played by Javier Bardem) whom she met during her travels. While they were able to secure a visa for him via marriage, this would not have been possible for same-sex couples since their marriages are not currently recognized by federal law in the US.

Celebrity Lobbyist Alert: Crystal Bowersox

Friday, July 23rd, 2010 by Brittany

Yet another new celebrity is lending their name and popularity to a good cause. This season’s American Idol runner up Crystal Bowersox is here visiting the White House to promote federal funding for Type 1 diabetes research. As is the case with many celebrity lobbyists, the cause she is representing hits close to home. Bowersox suffers from Type 1 diabetes. Check out her video interview with Politico. 

Celebrity Lobbyist Alert: Quinton Aaron

Monday, July 19th, 2010 by Brittany

Actor Quinton Aaron to advocate on the Hill this week

Security guard turned famous actor, Quinton Aaron of the Blind Side, will be visiting Capitol Hill this week to promote the organization, Children Uniting Nations. CUN unites at risk children with mentors to aid in their development.

For those of you who have somehow managed to not hear the story of Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron) here is a little summary. Michael Oher grew up in Tennessee with a decidedly difficult start in life. During his teenage years he was adopted by a well-to-do family who helped cultivate his exceptional football skills while furthering his education and providing a safe and loving environment. Oher went on to sign a 13.8 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

To learn more about becoming a mentor with Children Uniting Nations, please click here.

Celebrity Lobbyist Alert: Football Lobbyist

Thursday, July 8th, 2010 by Vbhotla

NFLPAEven NFL players need a lobbyist… except this lobbyist is really more of an “educator.” Since he’s not currently registered under the LDA, Joe Briggs, whose title is “Public Policy Counsel,” says he’s not pushing legislation, but he is advocating on behalf of NFL Players.

He’s more of a go-between for football players and Members of Congress – who often share interest in the same issues, and are looking for mutual help in pushing pet projects. Since DC is all about who you know, and how you can get to those people, having a non-lobbyist Congressional liaison such as Briggs makes sense in a member-based organization such as the NFL Players Association.

According to, the NFLPA is registered as a “lobbying client” under the LDA, represented by Patton Boggs, under the issue “Sports/Athletics.”

The NFL is also listed as having outside lobbying help, with representation by Capitol Hill Strategies, Covington & Burling, Elmendorf Strategies, The Glover Park Group, and Dudinsky, Lisker, & Associates. Issues that the NFL is interested in include (among others): Labor/Antitrust/Workplace, Alcohol/Drug Abuse, Communications/Broadcasting/Radio/TV.

Story: The Football Fixer.

UPDATED: Celebrity Lobbyist Alert

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 by Brittany

Tom Colicchio, judge of Top Chef DC, will be heading to Capitol Hill this Thursday to lobby on behalf of the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act,” sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.).  (PDF here).

This visit comes on the heels of last week’s Top Chef DC competition of creating a healthy school lunch that was on budget (which is ridiculously low), kid friendly and healthy. Not an easy task.

Cheers to Chef Colicchio for lobbying for healthy and affordable meals for kids in the US.