Comcast Beefs Up DC Team

March 14th, 2011 by Autumn

National Cable and Telecommunications Association president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow will leave to become president of Comcast’s Washington policy and government affairs office, a newly-created position in which he will oversee regulatory and congressional strategy.  Citing McSlarrow’s interests in “technology, new product development, and customer service,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says McSlarrow “brings a terrific mix of business skills and broad management capabilities to our cable operations.”

McSlarrow is said to be a staunch opponent of net neutrality, another plus for Comcast, which has been embroiled in a fight with the FCC over the divisive issue.  He has also Payday Loans fought against a la carte channel pricing, from which the company would also benefit.

The cable giant has also promoted its two top lobbyists, who were both instrumental in finalizing the company’s NBC Universal acquisition earlier this year.

Kathy Zachem, who has led the firm’s regulatory efforts since 2008, will become the senior vice president of regulatory and state legislative affairs.  Melissa Maxfield is the new senior vice president of congressional and federal government affairs, a position from which she will congressional lobbying and some Executive Branch contacts, particularly as it relates to the White House and Commerce Department.

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Former Rep. Bob Livingston to Head Louisiana GOP

March 14th, 2011 by Autumn

Former Rep. Bob Livingston, principal, The Livingston Group, has joined the Louisiana Republican Party as finance chairman.  Livingston said the new post as Louisiana’s top party fundraiser would not adversely impact his role with his lobby shop, saying “I would not have taken on this task without the consent of my partners, both Republican and Democrat.”

The Livingston Group has recently represented Egypt, which it continues to represent, even in a post-Mubarak regime, and Libya, which the group ceased to represent in 2008 after the nation’s leader continuously proved to be in opposition to U.S. policy.

In the party’s official press release Chairman Roger Villere states, ““With major statewide and legislative elections on the ballot this Viagra 100mg year it is crucial for our party to have the resources necessary to aggressively advance our conservative message, and I’m delighted to add a proven fundraiser and campaign veteran like Bob to our team… I’m confident that with his help our party will maintain its dominance in statewide elected offices and extend our majorities in the State House and State Senate.”

Said Livingston, “These are historic times for the conservative movement in Louisiana and I thank Chairman Villere for giving me the opportunity to facilitate our party’s continued growth and success.  I look forward to working with the chairman and I’m excited to assist our candidates up and down the ballot to succeed this fall.”

Murkowski Sides With Dems on Women’s Rights Issues

March 14th, 2011 by Autumn

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the first Republican senator to speak out in support of Planned Parenthood last week, saying in a letter to Appropriations Committee heads Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), “I believe Planned Parenthood provides vital services to those in need and disagree with [House] funding cuts” in the chambers budget bill.

Sen. Murkowski joins Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as female Republicans speaking in favor of women’s reproductive rights, in vocal departures from their party’s popular rhetoric.  Collins’ spokesperson said the senator believes defunding Title X, which funds Planned Parenthood and other groups, is “unwise,” because “the program has successfully reduced the number of unplanned pregnancies Cialis, therefore helping to reduce health care costs.”

Recently, the Expose Planned Parenthood Coalition, which is made up of 30 anti-abortion groups, has put significant pressure on House Republicans to make defunding of Title X a non-negotiable point in congressional budget talks.  The coalition says it has sent 1.2 million petitions and emails in favor of withholding funding for the program for the remainder of the year.Planned Parenthood argues that it spends most of its time on activities other than abortions, including cancer screening for low income women, and providing contraception to prevent pregnancy.

Seven Republicans in the House opposed the provision to defund Title X during discussions.

Lawmakers, Lobbyists Square off on the Ice

March 14th, 2011 by Autumn

In the 3rd annual Congressional Hockey Challenge Thursday night, Team Lobbyists was victorious over Team Lawmakers, with a final score of 5-3.

The game, which was held at the Verizon Center, raised over $100,000 for Fort Dupont Hockey Ice Arena and Hockey Club.  The Fort Dupont Hockey Club is a 501(c)3 charitable organization which provides inner city youth with the opportunity to play in an organized hockey program.  According to the event’s webpage, the Congressional Hockey challenge is held to aid the Fort DuPont ice arena, which “is in dire financial condition, and is at risk of closing. All proceeds…go directly to the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club, which will share fifty percent of the proceeds with the Fort DuPont Ice Arena [to] help ensure the Arena remains on stable footing, and that the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club can continue its mission.”

Washington Capitals forward Mike Knuble dropped the first puck at the well-attended matchup of Capitol Hill and K. Street heavyweights.  Forward/Right Wing Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was Cialis the most well-known lawmaker on the ice.  He was joined by Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)—who is often touted the biggest hockey fan in Congress, and even organized a White House event held Friday to benefit youth hockey initiatives, Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.)—who joined Quigley on the South Lawn for Friday’s hockey clinic, Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Pat Meehan (D-Penn.), and several staffers.

Team lobbyists featured IBM’s Justin Beachnau, Ian Bennitt (Shipbuilders Council of America), Nick Bliss (New York Life), C2 Group’s Nelson Litterst and John Kline, Brooke Coburn (The Carlyle Group), Bob Filippone (PhRMA), Christian Gullott (Bridgestone Americas, Inc.), Jeffrey Kimbell (Jeffrey J. Kimbell & Associates and Magnum Entertainment Group, Inc), Melissa Lavinson (Pacific Gas and Electric Company), Nick Lewis (UPS), George Lowe (Brown Rudnick), Rick Murphy (R.B. Murphy and Associates), Sean O’Neill (Associated General Contractors of America), Mark Peterson (American Institute of CPAs), Brian Regan (PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association), Kraig Syracuse (Park Strategies), Andrew Sasinowski (US Patent and Trademark Office), Seth Webb (Google), Ian Weston (Children’s National Medical Center).

Industry Moves and Changes

March 14th, 2011 by Autumn

Former Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) has joined Husch Blackwell as partner.

Kyle McSlarrow is the new president of Comcast’s policy and government affairs office. Kathy Zachem has been promoted to the cable giant’s senior vice president of regulatory and state legislative affairs, and Melissa Maxfield will be senior vice president of congressional and federal government affairs.
Genevieve Morelli has been named president of the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance.

Young Lobbyists Network: Speed Mentoring Event

March 11th, 2011 by Brittany

The Young Lobbyist Network (YLN) invites you to attend our first “speed mentoring” event of the year featuring several senior American League of Lobbyists (ALL) members. The main focus of this month’s event will be “Crafting an effective message.” In speed mentoring, you meet in small groups with a mentor to discuss a given topic and then “rotate” to a different table. This format allows you to meet with several mentors in a focused setting. You’ll have a chance to speak with each mentor and connect with professionals who work in a variety of government relations fields.  Don’t forget to bring your questions and your business cards! 

The event will be held on March 30th at the offices of GolinHarris at 2200 Clarendon Blvd, a block from the Courthouse metro.  Registration and networking are from 5:30-6:00 and the “speed mentoring” portion of the evening will begin promptly at 6.  We will supply beverages and snacks so you won’t be networking on an empty stomach! 

This event is HGH open to YLN/ALL members only and you must be registered by Monday, March 28th. The registration fee for this event is $10. If you aren’t already a YLN/ALL member, join online at www.alldc.org for only $99.00.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity for great advice from top industry professionals in a fun and relaxed setting!

Registration
Register for the session online at www.alldc.org (scroll down to the events & programs section)
Become an YLN/ALL member! www.alldc.org

When
March 30, 2011
5:30 Networking
6:00-7:30 Speed Mentoring
Register for the session online at www.alldc.org

Where
GolinHarris
2200 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 1100
Arlington, VA 22201

About Our Host
GolinHarris Public Affairs works with their clients to shape their political message, develop strategic relationships and manage issues so they can build their business by combining consumer and corporate public relations with traditional advocacy tactics. 

We look forward to seeing you!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via email at bcarter@columbiabooks.com or directly at 240-235-0270

Successful Advocacy is Not Just about Luck Its Also About Strategy

March 9th, 2011 by Brittany

In identifying the issues that the organization will address, successful advocate leaders must manage both the expectations and interests of their advocates as well as the agendas of policymakers.  As a result, they must be prepared to establish both proactive and reactive policy agendas.

  • Proactive agendas are those designed to further the legislative, regulatory or other policy interests of the organization.  They are usually comprised of specific initiatives the organization wishes to advance, such as legislation or a change to regulatory rules. 
  • Reactive agendas are developed in response to the initiatives put forth by policymakers or others.

Almost all policy agendas will have both proactive and reactive elements.  Proactive elements are often the easiest to develop, in that organization leaders will hopefully have a good sense of the policy changes necessary to benefit their stakeholders.  Difficulties with proactive agendas may arise when there are competing priorities or stakeholders have unrealistic expectations.

The formation of reactive agendas can prove more difficult. This is in large part because it is often difficult to know what a policymaking body is planning.  Many organizations with well-thought-out proactive agendas find themselves scrambling to manage policy changes proposed from an external source.  To avoid surprises and last-minute policy panic, it is essential to consider what issues your organization might need to address in a reactive manner from the outset.

Options for identifying potential reactive agenda items include:

  • Informal discussions with key legislative and regulatory champions
  • Ongoing review of relevant periodicals, newspapers and other publications
  • Discussions with appropriate state and national associations and interest groups
  • Analysis of legislative and regulatory history, including existing laws up for reauthorization and review
  • Intelligence from well-situated stakeholders

For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.

Lobbying News Round-up

March 4th, 2011 by Autumn

Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the announcement that former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) assumed the position of chairman and CEO for the Motion Picture Association of America, effective March 17.  Dodd will bring his “stature and talent to support the creative efforts of our filmmakers and the many people who work in our industry, here and around the world,” said Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO Jim Gianopulos.

According to the association’s official press release, Dodd is excited to represent an industry that “consistentlyproduce[s] and distribute[s] the most sought after and enjoyable entertainment on earth.  Protecting this great American export will be my highest priority.”  He expects the position will be “a continuation of my work in the Senate from advancing the VigRX interests of children and families and creating and safeguarding American jobs to the protection of intellectual property and the expansion of international trade.”  Tackling piracy and protecting the studios’ intellectual property will be amoung Dodd’s primary duties in his new position.

In less circulated revolving door news, former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) has joined agriculture lobbying shop Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz as a principal.  Herseth Sandlin may provide strategic advice –which would be worth heeding, considering her recent post as chair of the Agriculture Committee — but may not lobby directly for clients for one year, per House revolving door rules.  She told Roll Call that lobbying, “after the first year, is definitely something I’m interested in doing.”

Financing Campaign Events: Corporations v. PACs v. Individuals

March 3rd, 2011 by Autumn

So you’re the owner of a corporation that controls a PAC and you want to host a campaign event for one of the many potential 2012 presidential candidates — let’s just say Tim Pawlenty for giggles.  Should you pay for the event with your own checkbook? Expense it to the company? Maybe use PAC funds?  Here’s a quick breakdown of the rules governing campaign event financing:

Corporation:

If the audience is limited to the “restricted class” then the corporation may pay for the event and:

•The corporation may, during the event, endorse or otherwise expressly advocate for the candidate’s election.

•The corporation may solicit contributions on behalf of the candidate; and

•The candidate may accept contributions during the event; but

•The corporation may not facilitate the contributions by collecting them or providing envelopes or stamps.

If the audience includes other employees, then:

•The corporation must allow opposing candidates for the same office to address a similar audience in a like manner;

•The corporation must refrain from endorsing the candidate or soliciting contributions to the candidate’s campaign; and

•Though the candidate may solicit contributions, the candidate is not permitted to accept contributions during the event.

PAC:

A PAC may pay for campaign events if:

•The PAC pays for the use of any corporate resources, including employee time (in most cases, payment must be in advance);

Use of Meeting Rooms – A corporation that customarily makes its meeting rooms available to clubs, civic or community organizations, or other groups at a discount or for free, may also make those rooms available to a campaign on VigRX the same terms.

•The PAC notifies the campaign of all payments made on behalf of the campaign and reports them as in-kind contributions to the campaign; and

•The payments do not exceed the PAC’s $5,000 candidate contribution limit.

Individual:

An individual may pay for campaign events if:

•The individual pays for the use of any corporate resources, including employee time (in most cases, payment must be in advance);

Volunteer Safe Harbor – An individual may use corporate facilities for personal volunteer campaign activity without paying for them provided that the individual’s use does not exceed one hour per week or four hours per month and does not result in any increase to the operating costs or overhead of the corporation.

Use of Meeting Rooms – As previously discussed, a corporation that customarily makes its meeting rooms available to clubs, civic or community organizations, or other groups at a discount or for free, may also make those rooms available to a campaign on the same terms.

•The individual notifies the campaign of all payments made on behalf of the campaign; and •All payments by the individual do not exceed the individual’s $2,500 candidate contribution limit.

Residential Fundraising – If the event is held at an individual’s personal residence, then the individual may pay up to an additional $1,000 for food, drink, and invitations without having to report the costs to the campaign or applying them to the $2,500 contribution limit.

For more information on PACs and campaign finance, join the us for the intensive “PACs & Campaign Finance Lobbying Certificate Program” Monday.

Paying for Drinks on St. Patricks Day

March 2nd, 2011 by Brittany

In a town with many Irish pubs, it’s to be expected that Washington, D.C., would go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. Lobbyists can’t buy a Guinness specifically for a congressional member or staffer, but the ethics committees have given some guidance on when they might be able to cover a round of drinks for a group of people that includes a congressional member or staffer.

 

Drinks at the Bar Rules

Since the House and Senate have guidance on the exemption for food and drinks of nominal value, it’s sometimes unclear what exactly that guidance permits.

So when can a lobbyist offer an item of food and drink of nominal value to a Member or staffer?

Some possible rules of thumb, based on recent House and Senate ethics committee interpretations:

Table 5-2: Drinks at the Bar – A Guide

Food / Beverages Offered Setting and Circumstances Ok by Senate rules? Ok by House rules?
Pitcher of beer at the bar Spontaneous, accidental; no invitations, not a  planned event Probably, because it is drinks only, no food Yes, offered in a group, social setting
Pitcher of beer at the bar Emailed invitations to specific people:  “Meet at Tortilla Coast 5 to 7 on Thursday” Yes, because it is an “organized event” Yes, offered in a group, social setting
Beers and nachos Lobbyist pays check for everyone in the bar on St. Patrick’s Day Probably, but only if the nachos offered do not exceed $10 value Yes, offered in a group, social setting and nachos are light appetizers, not part of a meal
Beers and nachos St. Patrick’s Day gathering organized by a certain group, lobbyist pays a share of the costs  Yes, an organized social event akin to a reception, nachos are light appetizers, not part of a meal Yes, offered in a group, social setting, also organized event akin to a reception and nachos are light appetizers, not part of a meal

Senate standard is food items from lobbyists and others valued at $10 or less and offered at an organized event, media interview or other appearance where such food items are normally offered to others.

House standard is “group or social setting”

For more information or to purchase the Lobbying Compliance Handbook click here.

Tuesday Ethics Tip: Dodd’s Revolving Door

March 1st, 2011 by Autumn

Former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) left his perch on the powerful Senate Banking Committee with the conclusion of the 111th Congress, and today was named chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.  For some, this is an eyebrow raiser; does Dodd’s new position with MPAA pit him in conflict with the Senate’s revolving door rules?

Though the chairman/CEO does not actually lobby the government, there is no question that Dodd will have some influence over the association’s lobbying activities, which makes this case a little tricky to hold up to the rules light.  The rule says that a Senator may not lobby any Member, officer, or employee in either chamber for two years , and may not assist with any official actions by U.S. government officials on behalf of foreign governments.  It also says a senator is prohibited from engaging in any discussions to accept such a position until after his successor has been named (which, in Dodd’s case, has happened), including positions that could involve a former senator in “indirect lobbying” — activities in support of other people’s lobbying, but which do not involve actions that would trigger registration.

Sen. Dodd’s acceptance of the position, which was made public today, is not in direct violation of the rules, assuming Dodd does not lobby Congress on any issues until the 113th Congress.  The Senate does not have the specific guidelines on “advocacy contacts” that the House details.  So, as long as Dodd does not directly contact a Member of Congress with the intent to influence action, he is not in violation of any Senate revolving door guidelines, but he should probably tread lightly.

Boeing “clear winner” of defense contract

February 28th, 2011 by Autumn

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said that “Boeing was the clear winner” in a competition for a the right to build refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.  Boeing, which overspent EADS by over $8 million in lobbying dollars since 2008 (including $5 million spent since January), beat out top competitor EADS for the highly coveted contract in the culmination of a nearly-decade-long competition.

Despite EADS’ ally in Northrop Grumman, Boeing’s alliance with the International Machinists and Aerospace Workers Association was the differencemaker in this process.  Boeing plans to build its tankers in Washington state, which relies heavily on union labor, contrasted with EADS’ plans to build in a state that does not rely on union labor — Alabama.

Last week, Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) held a joint press conference to urge President Obama to consider the dramatic subsidies European-owned EADS receives from the French government, which enable the company to Pokies beat Boeing’s bottom line.  Gulf Coast Governors drafted a letter to the president on EADS’ behalf asking him to ensure “parochial interests” did not impact the decision.

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee, said Thursday was “one of the happiest days of my professional life,” lauding his efforts to change the Air Force’s price evaluation process as a possible contributor to Boeing’s success.  Boeing estimates the contract will allow the company to support 50,000 jobs in the state.

Boeing’s planes will burn 24% less fuel than those EADS would have made, a difference in long-term cost that was discovered after evaluating the 40-year, versus 25-year cost, a measure proposed by Dicks.

Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) said, “This competition has been challenged before, and it’s not unlikely it will be challenged again.  It will ultimately be up to EADS to determine whether they will protest this decision, and I will fully support whatever decision they make.”

DeLay establishes legal defense fund

February 28th, 2011 by Autumn

Tom DeLay, the former House Majority Leader convicted on conspiracy to launder money in state elections, and who has often been listen in connection with the Jack Abramoff trials, has established a new legal defense fund to appeal a January conviction.

According to the, in fact, he can now “accept contributions of any type or amount.”

In addition to catching heat for receiving contributions to his defense fund by lobbyists, several Congressmen, including fellow Texan Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tx.) were also noted as having contributed to DeLay’s first legal defense fund, in what some considered a breach of House Ethics rules.

Craig Richardson, a key fundraiser for DeLay while he was still in public office, has been listed one of two trustees of the fund.  DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison, which he evaded by posting $10,000 bond, and ten years of community service in lieu of an additional five years on a related charge.

Google, DOJ square off on acquisition

February 28th, 2011 by Autumn

The Department of Justice has some concerns about a pending merger between internet giant Google and ITA, a flight information software company.  Google announced the acquisition July 1, 2010.  Initial reactions around the business community were that the deal merely increased Google’s business; it did not threaten the existence of other travel sites. But members of FairSearch.org, an organization comprised of top internet travel sites, including Expedia, Hotwire, TripAdvisor, Kayak, fear that Google may try to leverage its dominance in the internet search industry to promote its product, thereby damaging their own.

The Department of Justice is threatening to block the merger, and the parties are in negotiations.  Insiders are unable to predict whether a deal is within days or whether it will fall apart completely.  Google spent nearly $12 million on in-house lobbying around anti-trust, privacy, and competition among other issues between 2008-2010.  The company spent an additional $5.4 million on retained firms over the same time period.

Though Google contends that it does not intend to set prices or sell tickets, and that its acquisition will make airfare searches easier and drive “more potential customers to airlines’ and online travel agencies’ websites,” Bing, which is in direct competition with Google, relies on the software for its travel site as well.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) wrote to Attorney General Christine A. Varney last year from his position on the Antitrust subcommittee to outline concerns over competition and antitrust issues raised by the acquisition, and saying it “warrants a careful review.”  Consumer Reports said it is “concerned that the Google-ITA acquisition has the potential to limit consumer choice in the already complex marketplace of online travel, particularly after such a deal were to be finalized.”



Industry Moves and Changes

February 28th, 2011 by Autumn
Cari Guittard, former executive director of Business for Diplomatic Action, is the new vice president of global affairs for the Howard Consulting Group.

Former Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) has been named senior adviser at Twenty-First Century Group.

Andrew Halataei, government affairs consultant and former Legislative Director for Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), has joined the Information Online Pokies Technology Industry Council (ITI) as director of government relations.

Stacey L. Douglas has been selected to assume the position of Executive Director at the Used Textbook Association (UTA) Board of Directors, effective March 1.

New Mexico Democrat and one-time presidential candidate Bill Richardson has  been named as chairman of Global Political Strategies by APCO Worldwide.