August 23rd, 2010 by Elise
Norm Eisen, who has been a thorn in the flesh of some Washington lobbyists, is heading to Prague as President Obama’s ambassador to the European nation. The administration’s “ethics portfolio” will be split, with the White House Counsel, Robert Bauer, taking the lead.
According to the Washington Post, “responsibilities for lobbying, transparency, government reform and a host of other government operations issues” will be transferred to the former head of Perkins Coie’s political law practice. Bauer has served as President Obama’s personal attorney, as well as holding positions at Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee.
Steven P. Croley, a law professor at the University of Michigan, will head a six-member legal team to cover ethics, government reform, whistle-blower protections, lobbying reform, and other issues.
Several groups have pointed to this as a “step back” for the administration, which started out with a strong emphasis on ethics. The Sunlight Foundation wrote that “instead of having single touch point within the Administration we will now be working with one person who already has more than a full-time job, and an academic with no government experience.”
And Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (which Eisen co-founded), was also not enthusiastic. “In our view, taking the full-time responsibilities of a high-level White House official and divvying them up suggests ethics, transparency and government reform will get substantially less attention, not more.” But others see this as a potential for good – Fred Wertheimer, who heads Democracy 21, said in the New York Times that “I hate to see Eisen leave because he’s done a phenomenal job … but I believe the pieces are there to continue with the commitment this administration has said it would make in this area.”
New York Times article is here. Sunlight Foundation and CREW statements are here and here. A Washington Independent article is here.
August 23rd, 2010 by Elise
The government has ended a six-year investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s (R-Texas)’s ties to the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The news was relayed by DeLay’s lead counsel in the matter, Richard Cullen, chairman of law firm McGuireWoods, who said he received a call from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section informing him of the decision and letting him know that it was approved for public knowledge.
The extraordinarily long (more than 6 years) and expensive probe marked the rise of a wave of lobbying scandals that helped Democrats regain the House majority in 2006. In 2005, a Texas court charged DeLay with criminal violations of state campaign finance laws and money laundering. He pled not guilty, citing political motivation for the charges.
Once one of Washington’s top power brokers, DeLay now spends most of his time at his home in Sugar Land, Texas, and recently starred in the reality show, ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ He is also founder and president of a strategic political consulting firm, First Principles, which he launched after he stepped down from his Congressional seat in 2005.
Abramoff was released to a Baltimore half-way house in December 2009. Another figure in the case, ex-Rep. John Doolittle, was cleared in June. Kevin Ring, a former staff for Doolittle, and then a lobbyist for Abramoff, was refused an injunction on his own corruption case by Federal Judge Ellen Huvelle last week; Ring’s attorneys sought to get his case thrown out after the Honest Services Fraud statute was weakened by the Supreme Court in June.
A timeline of charges against DeLay is here from National Journal. A POLITICO article on the DeLay case is here.
August 23rd, 2010 by Elise
Will Washington once again see action on a signature piece of Democratic legislation? According to National Journal’s Hotline On Call, Senate Democrats are planning to reopen the campaign finance issue after the August recess – in the hope that the delay will mitigate some moderate Republicans’ objections to the hurried legislation.
Although the process from conception of the legislation to passage in the House took more than 4 months, Sen. Harry Reid chose to bring up the issue for a cloture vote on July 27 in the Senate. It ultimately failed, with Sen. Reid voting no ultimately to preserve his right of cloture. Moderate Republican Senators Scott Brown (Mass.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), and Susan Collins (Maine) are the swing votes on this issue – all have expressed reservations about what they view as the majority’s unseemly haste – seemingly in order to influence the November elections.
Since passing the bill in September or October would mean that it would not impact this year’s pivotal elections, Democrats hope that the moderate Senators, who may have supported campaign finance reform in a different format, will be able to overcome their skepticism. Express Advocacy’s William McGinley reports that Sens. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Leahy (D-Vermont) sent a campaign email specifically mentioning the DISCLOSE Act.
Story from Hotline on Call is here: “DISCLOSE Act will get second look.”
August 23rd, 2010 by Elise
Douglas Troutman has been promoted to senior director of government affairs at ACI. Before joining ACI, Troutman served as senior manager of legislative affairs at Underwriters Laboratories Inc. He also worked as senior manager of government relations at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and as a legislative aide to Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (D-Pa.).
Miller B. Girvin has been hired as vice president for communications for The Hawthorn Group LC, an international public affairs firm. Girvin served as a senior policy associate and lobbyist for Capitol Management Initiatives LLC. Before that, she worked as a policy assistant for Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. (1987-2007).
Fruzsina M. Harsanyi is joining the Public Affairs Council as a senior adviser.
Greg Crist has been hired as vice president of public affairs at the American Health Care Association.
August 19th, 2010 by Brittany
Make sure you come out tonight to mix and mingle with other young and young-at-heart government relations professionals.
When: 5-7 pm
Where: Ping Pong Restaurant
900 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
About the YLN: The Young Leadership Network, an extension of the American League of Lobbyists, exists to provide young professionals with a peer-to-peer network designed to foster deep roots in Washington and throughout the lobbying community. The YLN hosts monthly networking happy hours in the DC metro area on the 3rd Thursday of each month as well as other events throughout the year.
August 18th, 2010 by Brittany
Each of these action-oriented audioconferences takes just 90-minutes out of your day – yet they provide you with expert guidance that will make a bottom-line difference to your ongoing success with everything from lobbying and grassroots activities, to member involvement and political contributions.
SESSION 1: 501(c)3 organizations: keeping your tax-exempt status intact
September 14, 2010 · 2:00 – 3:30 pm EST
501(c)3 organizations must not engage in political activities, such as attempts to influence elections. But do you know exactly what that means? It could cost you big time if you don’t fully comply with IRS rules to avoid direct advocacy. Your organization can lobby – but only to some extent. This session focuses on rules and regulations for 501(c)3 organizations – tax structure, advocacy, political events, and other political activities. In addition, you’ll learn how to conduct a self-audit that provides vital early-warning on any areas of your operation that do not currently comply with IRS, FEC or HLOGA requirements.
SESSION 2: 501(c)4 & (c)6 organizations: how can you advocate?
September 21, 2010 · 2:00-3:30 pm EST
This session examines the special issues compliance issues surrounding nonprofits’ political activities, including the IRS rules that must be obeyed to maintain tax-exempt status and the HLOGA requirements that must be met to avoid disastrous publicity, $200,000 fines and up to five years in jail. Also included: a discussion of appropriate direct political activity.
to register for one or both of the sessions!
August 18th, 2010 by Brittany
Get ready. Get set. Go! The elections in November 2010 are getting all the attention right now, but 2011 will be one of the busiest years on record for bringing members and citizen advocates to the Capitol… not to mention one of the most expensive.
Save time and money when you get planning advice from the experts – don’t waste your organization’s precious advocacy dollars. Make sure your message will be heard amidst the Congressional chaos. Maximize your advocacy impact while minimizing your costs.
Register now for Lobby Days and Fly-Ins: Time and Money Saving Tactics for Managing the Unmanageable. In this audioconference, top grassroots expert Stephanie Vance arms your entire team with expert guidance for making every aspect of your 2011 events a success. Start your planning now to take full advantage of all these tips and tricks for effectiveness.
September 23, 2010 from 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. EDT
Where? Your office or conference room (no need to travel!!)
Audioconference PLUS Audio CD: $319-Best Value!
Audioconference Only: $247
CD Recording: $247
August 16th, 2010 by Brittany
Matthew de Ferranti speaking with advocates from Habitat for Humanity
Welcome to our first-ever lovable lobbyist interview.
This whole idea came about as a result of the reaction I inevitably get when I tell people where I work. It’s normally a frown, followed by some rant about how lobbyists are all criminals working for big oil and tobacco (the director of “Thank You For Smoking” should be commended for his film’s staying power).
Over the 4 years I’ve been working at Lobbyists.info, I’ve honed my response to this criticism. It goes a little something like this…
“You like puppies, public education and nurses, right? Well, guess what, they all have lobbyists representing them!”
So, as you can see, I’m on a bit of a personal mission to make people realize that there are, in fact, lovable lobbyists out there. They are not the unicorns of Washington… I swear they actually exist! Here is one of them, our first-ever lovable lobbyist, Matthew de Ferranti of Habitat for Humanity.
Do you have a personal connection to the nonprofits you’ve worked for?
Yes, I absolutely have a personal connection to Feeding America, Teach for America and Habitat for Humanity. Each is fundamentally about strengthening the American Dream by working with low- and moderate-income individuals, children and families to expand economic opportunity. I deeply believe in the missions of each organization and believe that we are all connected.
What would you like people to know about lobbying and advocacy that is positive?
The future of our country and the world are often in part resolved through public policies and public discourse. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “The credit belongs to the man [or woman] in the arena.” And as Lyndon Baines Johnson said, “You will find meaning only in the issues of your time.”
What can people do to get involved in lovable advocacy activities with Habitat?
You can take action on issues important to Habitat by visiting habitat.org/gov. You can build with one of Habitat’s 1,500 U.S. affiliates or donate to Habitat’s affordable housing program. It’ll change your perspective on life forever.
What else makes you lovable outside of your regular work?
I love to travel and learn about people: India, Vietnam and China have been my choices over the past two years, but I also love to travel in the United States and have lived in Oakland, California; Iowa and Texas over the past decade. Exploring D.C. by foot and doing all of the Duck Tours in the United States over the next decade are two of my current interests.
To nominate a lovable lobbyist you know, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 12th, 2010 by Elise
Conrad Lass is joining the American Petroleum Institute as senior director of federal relations.
Kathleen McCann has been named director of quality and regulatory affairs for the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems.
Alex Mistri has been named a managing director in the government affairs practice at the Glover Park Group.
David Sanders has joined the National Community Pharmacists Association as director of federal government relations. Sanders was director of federal government affairs for Teva Pharmaceuticals. He has also worked on legislative issues for former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
Melissa Dodson Schooley has been hired as senior director of government affairs at MedTronic Inc., a medical technology company. Schooley was previously head of government affairs for Coventry Health Care. She has also served as a fellow for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight and the Courts.