Karaoke in the Capital

October 7th, 2010 by Brittany

Luke Russert clearly takes his karaoke seriously

Last night a few of Washington’s favorites came out to belt- it-out to raise funds for the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation at the Karaoke in the Capital. The foundation provides musical instruments for deserving students and schools.

The event, emceed by Bob Schieffer of Face the Nation, was, as always, fairly entertaining with a stand out performance from Luke Russert.

This year the foundation selected Charles Eliot-Lemon G. Hine Middle School in Washington, DC to receive musical instrument funding. They currently have 20 working instruments which are shared amongst 70 students throughout the day. The students are even sharing mouthpieces (they clean them with alcohol in between classes.)

This year’s event was put on by the AAPC at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Lobbyists.info was a sponsor.

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New Lobbying Certificate Program Session

October 6th, 2010 by Brittany

Join the American League of Lobbyists for their upcoming Lobbying Certicate Program (LCP) session:

Effective Communications: Congress and the Media
October 18, 2010 from 8:45-11:45 am EDT
Hall of States, Washington, DC

What you’ll learn:
Register for up-to-date training on how leverage more efficient and effective communications in the “New Washington,” including:

  1. How different government officials like to receive their information – and how to take advantage of the newest trends
  2. Today’s best new and traditional media – and when to use them
  3. How to get high ROI from what you spend on media communications
  4. How to support your contacts and give them greater persuasive power
  5. What to say (and not say) to get an appointment with Congressional staff
  6. How to craft a strong presentation and leave-behind materials
  7. What lobbyists must know about communications involving federal contracting -including bid negotiations, collateral policies and dispute resolution
  8. How to make sure your communications comply with all relevant rules – including the new lobbying requirements

Click here to register today!

Tuesday Ethics Tip: Bundling

October 5th, 2010 by James

Lobbyist bundling activities must be reported

In the run-up to the mid-terms, government relations professionals might be engaged in a little campaign contribution bundling. This is a perfectly acceptable form of political fundraising, in which one lobbyist gathers campaign contributions from a group of colleagues and presenting the resulting “bundle” to lawmakers.

Regulations and disclosure:

Under HLOGA, candidate committees, leadership PACs and federal party committees are required to disclose to the Federal Election Commission the names of individual lobbyists, registered lobbying entities, or PACs maintained by lobbyists or lobbying entities that donate bundled contributions of $15,000 or more.

The “bundle” can be a physical pile of checks, or a method of assigning credit for certain amounts of money raised.

Registrant PACs and Leadership PACs were required to identify themselves as such on FEC Form 1 no later than March 29, 2009.

As always, members of Congress are prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions in regard to any kind of official action.

Links to information regarding the new rules, related forms and committee filings are here, at the FEC’s site.

Podestas at the Washington Ideas Forum

October 4th, 2010 by James

Heather and Tony Podesta talk with Atlantic Media’s Ron Brownstein about lobbying, whether lobbyists really have a “secret edge,” and the current political environment in Washington.

Podestas on Washington Ideas Forum (Video)

Read more at The Atlantic’s site.

Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up

October 1st, 2010 by James

GOP members of the House Ethics Committee want Rep. Zoe Lofgren to just schedule trials for Reps. Waters and Rangel already! (Roll Call)

Jack Abramoff was spotted in Dupont Circle on Tuesday, having a discussion with some friends about “writing a book,” according to Roll Call.

Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) has been a public proponent of cutting lobbyists’ ability to give campaign contributions, and has also pledged not to accept any lobbyist campaign contributions himself. The GOP is hitting Rep. Space by claiming that his acceptance of “special interest” PAC money and contributions from lobbyists’ family members constitutes the same thing.

State and Federal Communications has a new e-newsletter up – Compliance Now, October 2010.”

Good government groups point out the continued absence of the Ethics.gov website. Article from The Hill.

Advocacy is all about customization, according to Amy Showalter.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) was getting in hot water from several groups for her use of a private jet… but the airplane was cleared for her use by the Ethics Committee, since it is owned by her fiance.

Quote of the Week:

“There is definitely a big distance from President Obama’s Ethics.gov campaign promise and what they have done so far… They are failing to live up to their promise, but their promise was aimed very high.” – John Wonderlich, policy director for the Sunlight Foundation, The Hill, 10/1/10

Magliocchetti Enters Guilty Plea

October 1st, 2010 by James

The Justice Department announced last Friday that ex-lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti had pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions and making false statements in a federal district court in Alexandria, VA.

Magliocchetti, the founder of defense appropriations lobbying shop the PMA Group, had previously entered a not-guilty plea. Prosecutors said Magliocchetti had admitted to funneling funds through family members and his firm’s lobbyists to Members of Congress with whom he was doing business. Magliocchetti admitted to knowledge of the campaign finance limits – both personal, and corporate. There was no mention of the lawmakers to whom Mr. Magliocchetti had been funneling donations.

Mark Magliocchetti, son of Paul, had previously pleaded guilty to an separate charge of making illegal campaign contributions. Mark Magliocchetti had worked at PMA Group.

Paul Magliocchetti is scheduled to be sentenced in December. The three charges to which he has pleaded guilty carry up to a five year sentence. Magliocchetti had previously been indicted on 11 charges; the eight charges to which he did not plead guilty will be dropped as part of his plea bargain.

Read more about the case at the Blog of Legal Times, the New York Times, Politico, and from the Justice Department.

What’s in a Name?

September 30th, 2010 by Autumn

Everyone knows that one of the keys to being a successful lobbyist is name recognition.  While this requires a lot of hard work and networking for most, some lobbyists have it a bit easier.  After having  reviewed the names of thousands upon thousands of government relations professionals, here is a small sampling of some of the names that caught my eye immediately.

The other Harry Henderson.

Harry Henderson Jr. is no monster/hit-and-run victim from the Pacific Northwest.  As President of Anchor Consulting he lobbies for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

I hold this Dave Thomas responsible for my teenage obesity.

What do you do if you share your name with the founder of fast food chain Wendy’s?  David Thomas, Principal at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. did his part by representing the American College of Cardiologists.  These days, Thomas has found himself another obvious client, the National Restaurant Association.

Be sure to consult The Lobbying Compliance Handbook before buying that round of martinis.

Brian Griffin is one of the top dogs at The Duberstein Group.  His scholastic cartoon counterpart would be pleased to know that Brian lobbies for the National Math & Science Initiative.

Deciding on which Kate Moss picture to include was the high point of my day today.

Having the same name as a supermodel wasn’t enough for Kate Moss, the president of the aptly named Kate Moss Company.

This picture might get my mom to start reading Lobby Blog.

It’s not unusual that Tom Jones, president of Federal Business Navigators, recently accompanied a client to a business meeting with the Department of Defense.

Cue loud screaming.

A lot of children can say “I feel good” due to the hard work of Christine James-Brown, the president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America.

The only thing better than sharing a name with one tv character is sharing a name with two.

You can see Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, the alter egos of the Episcopal Church’s GR professional David Benson-Staebler, Wednesday nights at 9 on NBC.

Compliance Q and A: Recovery Act Lobbying

September 29th, 2010 by James

ARRA Road Sign

Q: A few government agencies are still handing out stimulus money… and we may see another stimulus package passed. Are there currently any special restrictions on lobbyists regarding stimulus funds?

A: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released final guidance regarding the restrictions on communications with the executive branch related to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as stimulus funds, on July 24, 2009.

The guidance allows lobbyists to speak with agency officials, but does restrict oral communications for registered lobbyists and non-lobbyists starting at the point when an application for funding has been submitted and ending at the point where the funding has been awarded.

Exceptions apply when the communication occurs at a widely attended gathering or the inquiry is of a logistical nature, as detailed in the guidance. Communications with lobbyists are still required to be disclosed by the agency official. Previously, the Obama administration and OMB stated that registered lobbyists were only able to submit written communications regarding specific ARRA projects.

Have a question for Compliance Q&A? Email your question to ehill@columbiabooks.com.

New Audioconference on Congressional Investigations and Testimony

September 28th, 2010 by Brittany

Congressional Investigations and Testimony:
Practical Strategies for Proactive Prevention, Damage Control and Success

October 14, 2010 2:00-3:30 pm EST

Congress wants answers. Financial services providers, “Big Oil,” and the insurance industry are already in the cross-hairs. With ethics, the budget and the stimulus creating a high-pressure, high-visibility environment, the possibility for many more individuals and organizations to face Congressional questioning is increasing daily.

What if you’re called upon to provide testimony or to advise a client who has to go before Congress?  What if you’re asked to present documents?  Will you be prepared to deal with PR issues – and prevent possible leaks?  Will you know how to negotiate terms of a hearing? Act now to arm yourself with a practical strategy for handling – and ideally avoiding -  congressional investigations.

Register now for Congressional Investigations and Testimony: Practical Strategies for Proactive Prevention, Damage Control and Success.

The 90 minutes you invest in this audioconference could literally make the difference between promoting your agenda successfully and losing everything. Top GR attorneys map out steps to take now that will empower you to prepare executives to testify successfully and avoid becoming the focus of a congressional investigation.

Click here to register.

Recession brings in the bacon for K Street

September 27th, 2010 by James

A down-economy has been a boon for lobbying firms, according to an article by the Washington Post. The article focuses on cash flow in both law firms and lobbying firms in DC, over the past two years.

Massive layoffs in law firms in 2009 and slower flow of business since the start of the recession in 2008 have been detrimental to the organizational health of most law firms in the DC area. But a focus on regulatory law and advice has led to success for some firms.

Certain firms are building strategic practice groups of lawyers with regulatory focus in some of the past year’s biggest legislative issues – environmental policy, healthcare law, and financial regulatory policy.

Lobbying firms are stronger this year than ever before. Almost all of the top ten lobbying firms (by revenue), reported revenue increases over the past several quarters. According to the Post, only three of the largest law firms in the area have increased their attorney count, and two of them, Covington & Burling, and Patton Boggs, also have a very strong government relations / lobbying side to their business.

The Post notes this “synergy” and quotes Bruce Heiman of K&L Gates, saying that the double-sided nature of law plus lobbying may bring greater success, saying that even placement of a comma in a legal document might be the difference between success and failure in a client’s bill: “You just have to [see] that once or twice to pay very close attention to what is it that you’re lobbying for and thinking about how a judge will ultimately interpret the language … I think that gives you a perspective on things that some folks don’t have.”

Washington Post article is here: “Law firms have struggled, but recession proved to be bullish for lobbying shops.”

Revolving door financially benefits staffers

September 27th, 2010 by James

A recent academic study on the financial benefits that lobbyists draw from the practice of the “revolving door,” found that “Lobbyists with experience in the office of a US Senator suffer a 24% drop in generated revenue when that Senator leaves office.” The study found that committee assignments and length of time in office (things which add up to “influence”) also increase revenue for ex-staffers turned lobbyists.

The researchers point out that “While there is no scarcity of anecdotal evidence, direct econometric evidence on the extent to which previous officials are able to convert political contacts into lobbying revenue remains, to the best of our knowledge, non-existent.” But the study purports to provide such evidence. The authors point out that “measured in terms of median revenues per ex-staffer turned lobbyist, this estimate indicates that the exit of a Senator leads to approximately a $177,000 per year fall in revenues for each affiliated lobbyist.”

Several recent articles have pointed out the lobbyist potential for Hill staffers with close connections to members who may be in positions of even greater power after November, such as Reps. John Boehner, Eric Cantor, or Dave Camp, all Republicans who are in line for powerful House majority jobs should the chamber flip.

The researchers used several tools, including the Center for Responsive Politics’ database, Legistorm.com, and Lobbyists.info. The entire report is available at http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/abstract.asp?index=3654.

Read more at the Lobby Blog:

DISCLOSE Act fails… again

September 27th, 2010 by James

The DISCLOSE Act came up for a cloture vote again in the Senate on Thursday, September 23. The Democrats’ campaign finance reform bill has been on life support since it failed a prior cloture vote in July. The newest vote, which failed on party lines, 59-39, was seen as a last-ditch attempt to get a top priority through the Congress.

The Democrats, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), had promised to bring the bill to a vote after the August recess, when they said that Republicans’ suspicions about the timing of the bill being intended to benefit Democratic incumbents in November’s mid-terms would be mitigated. However, Democrats were unable to sway moderate Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Scott Brown (Massachusetts) into supporting the legislation.

President Obama’s office released a statement saying the President was “deeply disappointed” by the bill’s failure to pass. The President has been pushing for the “fix” to the Citizens United decision since the House passed their version of DISCLOSE in June.

CQ Politics reports that it may be a possibility that the legislation will keep coming back – “but it is unclear whether Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will try to take the issue up again during a lame-duck session.

The CQ Politics article is here:   “Senate GOP Again Blocks DISCLOSE”. Read more about the DISCLOSE Act here, and at Eric Brown’s site (for news round-ups).

Industry Moves and Changes

September 27th, 2010 by James

Betsy Phillips has been named executive vice president of McBee Strategic Consulting. She previously served at the House Appropriations Committee as a professional staff member for 25 years.

Matt Thornblad has been hired as director of energy and environmental government affairs at United Technologies Corp. Thornblad previously served as legislative assistant to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).

Jonathan Prince has been hired as partner at Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates. Prince most recently served in the Obama administration as a deputy assistant secretary of State.

Wendy Kirchoff has been named director of federal resources and legislative affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Kirchoff previously served as legislative director for Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.).

Elizabeth Gore, a former top aide to Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), has been hired by Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a policy director in its government relations group.

Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up

September 24th, 2010 by James

The Hill reports on Kenya’s lobbying expenditures. According to the article, “Lobbyists for the KenyanWeekly newsgovernment have focused on strengthening security ties, as well as increasing trade, between the two countries. They have also worked to secure a direct flight route between Atlanta and Nairobi.” The article further reports that the African nation has retained Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates (CLS) for PR services and  the Moffett Group to provide lobbying services.

Round-up of some articles on the DISCLOSE vote, from Eric Brown.

Need a quick look at the House ethics process? Ethics lawyer Stan Brand takes you through some of the steps. (Video).

Open Secrets notes this study on the “revolving door” from the London School of Economics, which found that ex-staffers turned lobbyists benefit financially from being in influential offices.

Eliza Newlin Carney of National Journal writes on Rep. John Boehner and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lobbyist / special interest ties will matter to voters. “Will Boehner’s Bucks Rankle Voters?”

Quote of the week:

“The recession has actually created a map where all roads now lead to Washington.” – Kevin O’Neill,  Patton Boggs, Washington Post, 9/20/2010

“It is true that my fights against powerful special interests have not made me popular with the Washington crowd… I take the fact that I’m considered the lobbyists’ number one enemy as a compliment, because my job is to fight for the people of Wisconsin, not the special interests in Washington.” – Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Politico, 9/20/2010

“Democrats don’t like to go to K Street as much as Republicans do…  Republicans ‘don’t care. They will work for oil, energy, gas, PhRMA, insurance, cigarette companies, gambling. It’d take something pretty damn bad for them not to do it.’” – “K Street recruiter,” Roll Call, 9/20/2010

Cupcakes need lobbyists too

September 23rd, 2010 by Brittany

We promise Eric didn't actually eat this whole tray. At least that's what he told us to say!

Today I brought in 70+ mini cupcakes to the Lobbyists.info offices and was trying to figure out a way to tie my new love/hate relationship with baking to my actual job. That got me thinking that cupcakes probably have lobbyists too!

After conducting some “cupcake” research in our lobbying database I discovered that they apparently have several groups lobbying for them including:

So in summary, we are currently seeking a physician to handle the sugar overdose epidemic which has recently struck the Lobbyists.info staff.