Posts Tagged ‘k st.’

K St. Drools Over Cantor

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 by Geoffrey Lyons

AFTER HOUSE MAJORITY leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) unpredictable defeat Tuesday night, a predictable response: what’s next for the Virginian?

Perhaps the most eager to know are those willing to coax the lame duck into working for them.  His leadership position, writes the Hill, makes him an incredibly lucrative prize.  And depending on the results of this year’s midterm elections, his stock could rise in just a matter of months. The timing of his defeat combined with his length of service and rank within the Republican party are the chief ingredients that make Cantor even more magnetic than “Blue Dog” Democrats, a “popular breed” on K St. for their bipartisanship and amity towards business.

Whether Cantor’s staff will get a share of this fortune is less certain.  Some are arguing that their value will sink as a result of the defeat, while others are skeptical of this assessment.  Ivan Adler, a principal at The McCormick Group, told The Hill “being in leadership means you know the entire caucus; that’s something that’s really important. Those relationships don’t go away because your boss is not there.”  POLITICO’s stance appears to incorporate both views, noting that former Cantor staffers on K St.

are [all] lobbyists with extensive relationships all over town who will ultimately be fine without their Cantor connection on Capitol Hill. But Cantor’s exit – assuming he doesn’t mount a quixotic write-in campaign – shifts the center of gravity and talent on K Street significantly.

As for Cantor’s donors, a potential measure of his influence, POLITICO adds that it’s “futile” to list them “because it’s essentially a who’s who of Fortune 500 and major trade associations.”

Of course, these discussions tend to invite needless speculation, so it’s worth ending on two points of consensus: Eric Cantor has his pick of the crop, and whoever gets him will profit immensely.

On K St.’s Heterogeneity

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 by Geoffrey Lyons

TWO BLACK VULTURES recently made K St. their home, prompting the sort of jokes that one would expect when the caricature of an entire industry nests on its doorstep.  When lobbyist Charlie Dewitt was informed of the vultures’ arrival, he provided the most telling response: “of the bird variety?”

Yet generalizations of any sort would seem unfitting after reading the Washington Post’s brief sketch of K St.’s “new landscape.”  The article provides short portraits of four firms – Franklin Square Group, Chamber Hill Strategies, Policy Resolution Group, and lobbying powerhouse Holland & Knight – each of which is distinguished by some unique characteristic.  Holland & Knight, for example, was the first lobbying group within a law firm to cease using billable hours.  According to Rich Gold, the firm’s head of public policy, this decision meant “not having to worry about how many people to put on a client matter for fear that their collective hourly billing might surpass the monthly retainer the client is paying.”  Policy Resolution Group is equally notable for being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the law firm Bracewell & Guiliani.  According to senior leaders in the firm, “having a separate subsidiary allows non-lawyer lobbyists and professionals to rise to a position that is equivalent to partner, and that helps recruit the best people.”

And it’s not just structural and operational nuances that separate these firms from the pack.  Franklin Square Group, which specializes in technology, prides itself on being the “bridge” between the vastly different cultures of Silicon Valley and Washington.  Of course, they too have a structural distinction in that every partner owns some form of stock option in the firm, but they prefer to see themselves as straddling the line between the fast-moving and risk-driven milieu of the Bay Area and the stodginess of the Beltway.  Taken together, all of these differences account for nothing when the K St. stereotype is very much alive.  The vultures’ choice for nesting grounds helped drive this point home.

Do Expenditures Matter?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 by Geoffrey Lyons

“Q3 LOBBYING EXPENDITURES DOWN,” “Lobbing Spending to Rebound in 2014,” “K St. Outlays Dip in December,” – such headlines splash across the pages of Washington-based newspapers. It has become so routine to discuss the business of lobbying exclusively in these terms that one feels the itch to challenge convention and to pose the following question: can expenditures stand alone as a reliable measure of advocacy’s vitality?

The answer is obviously no, which most people with a critical eye on Washington lobbying recognize . The shrewd reporter will temper his headline with subtler analysis, explaining, for instance, how the de-registration phenomenon (so frequently discussed in this blog) distorts the data, and supplying opinions of industry leaders apt to tell a story that contradicts the numbers.

Yet the appeal to quarterly spending has become so common, has sunk so deeply into the collective consciousness, that it may be corroding our understanding of how lobbying really functions. Firstly, much as money matters on K St., success is often rooted in the intangibles. Making new contacts, for example, and cultivating existing ones. These things often precede spending both in time and in importance, and they’re difficult, if impossible, to measure.

Secondly, even if spending were as important as it’s typically portrayed, it doesn’t follow that it’s best divided into neat three-month and one-year increments, as it is now by virtue of disclosure requirements. Some issues take years to appear on the legislative calendar–it’d be ludicrous to claim that everything is on the same timetable. In fact, the only thing that’s more ludicrous is to assume this is the case, which is precisely the current problem.

Finally, a lobbyists’ success in Washington is strictly bounded by the political environment in which he works. To get something through committee may be a small victory one year and a large one the next. By definition, a “do-nothing Congress” is the sort of setup that renders doing anything a grand success. So, to impose an overworked phrase on the reader, “it’s all relative”–especially in Washington.

Much of this is common knowledge within the beltway. Yet even reminding oneself of what one already knows can be a useful defense against lazy thinking, especially that which tends to overemphasizes the importance of something.  And if anything at all tends to be overemphasized by the coterie of reporters covering Washington lobbying (great as they are), it’s the importance of lobbying expenditures.  They just don’t matter that much.

Why Comply?

Thursday, June 20th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

EVERY YEAR THE Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that most lobbyists are doing what they’re legally bound to do: register and disclose. Despite some shortcomings – such as failing to round expenses to the nearest $10,000 and neglecting to report formerly held covered positions – lobbyists are a law abiding and diligent bunch. (Registered lobbyists, of course. Many lobbyists are in fact operating beyond the current legal framework).

But this rosy picture does little to deter those tempted to quit compliance all together. Some are asking: why comply? Nobody is getting more than a slap on the wrist for their negligence, so why bother?

An identical question was posed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. against Biassi Business Services Inc., which failed to submit 124 compliance forms and now faces up to $33 million in fines. The oft-repeated criticism that the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) “lack teeth” was met brusquely by Davidson: “Does a $33 million penalty count as teeth?”

Some may still think not. $33 million is a hefty fine, yes, but 124 repeated offences exceeds negligence and borders on willful disobedience.  In fact, this latest case may do very little by way of a warning to lobbyists.  If it’s only the “chronic offenders” facing costs for noncompliance, then skipping a disclosure deadline or two will still maintain its appeal.  Though compliance is the safest route, people make a good point just by asking “why comply?”

Lions and Tigers and K St., Oh My!

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

ACCORDING TO THE HILL’S Kevin Bogardus, the latest lobbying battle is centered around cats. Big cats. Bogardus reports that

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and other groups are throwing their weight behind the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, which would ban keeping the animals as pets or breeding them for sale.

Public disclosure records reveal that the IFAW hasn’t been throwing much weight behind anything since the mid-90′s, when in 1996 alone it raised half a million dollars and spent, if you’ll pardon the pun, the lion’s share. The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act may reverse that trend, bringing IFAW back to the vanguard of animal rights lobbying.

But despite the involvement of animal rights groups, advocates are emphasizing public safety as the measure’s central cause.*  The implication is that this approach will enhance the visibility (and ultimately the palatability) of the proposed legislation.  The name of the bill is itself a testament to this, in which the bulk of its syllabic frame is occupied by the public safety bit, with “Big Cats” being dispensed with up front and early.  Also, there’s no allusion to animal welfare in this designation.

How else is the message being pushed?  Metro ads.  To LobbyBlog’s readers on K St.: look for images of caged lions and tigers the next time you board at Farragut.

*IFAW says that “in just the past two decades, dangerous incidents involving captive big cats in the U.S. have resulted in the deaths of 22 people (including 5 children); and over 200 additional humans have been mauled or injured.”

Record Registration Complicates Lobbying Picture

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

K STREET’S SPRING AWAKENING” is how The Washington Post described the recent blossom of new lobbyist registrations. A formidable batch of 686 registrations were filed in April, just enough to win the three-year record, and more than enough to augur well for those who predict a sprightly Q2.  The Post sketches the chronology of lobbying activity as follows: a client hires a firm…a few weeks ensue…said firm registers after their first contact on the Hill…a few weeks ensue…said firm reports fees.  Given that typical Q4 hiring seeped into the first months of 2013 (because of the fiscal cliff, as some have claimed), then a full rebound may come later than previous years, reaching its apogee this summer.  There’s just one problem: August recess.

All together, too many factors are clouding the usually clear-eyed and credible metric of reported lobbying spending.  A decrease in year-to-year spending from 2012-2013 may well result, continuing a trend that began in 2010 and prompting a slew of reporters to herald the demise of traditional lobbying.  These tidings, should they come, are best taken with a skeptical eye.

Lobbying at a Glance

Friday, April 12th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

JACK ABRAMOFF  penned an advice column in Businessweek titled “How to Get Your Perk Into a Bill.” “In most cases,” he argues, “you won’t worry about members of Congress who are opposed to you. If you do your job right, they’ll only find out about it once it’s already the law.”

Mark Zuckerberg hired a couple of lobbyists for his new advocacy group. “Zuckerberg is teaming with other Silicon Valley execs like Joe Green to start the group, which is expected to broadly focus on economic issues like immigration and education reform.” The lobbyists were picked up from Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock and Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart.

From The Hill: “The beer giant Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. has added lobbying help as it tries to acquire the producer of Corona and other popular beer brands.” See an earlier LobbyBlog post “Beer Industry Infighting Returns to Congress.”

“I’ve decided not to be the model penitent for your unconstitutional tribunal,” said a gun lobbyist in Colorado before walking out of an ethics investigation exploring whether he violated a rule against intimidating legislators. “Neville [the lobbyist] was escorted from the capitol that day and Gerou [Rep. Cheri Gerou, a Republican legislator] filed an ethics complaint against him, alleging that his mention of sending mailers to her constituents violated an ethics rule — Rule 36 — against attempting to intimidate or influence legislators.”

On a humorous note, Dog the Bounty Hunter lobbied the Oklahoma legislature for tougher bail enforcement. “The state Senate took the occasion to pass a resolution honoring the 27-year bounty hunter and former bail bondsman. Presumably, lawmakers were scared not to do so”

Beer Industry Infighting Returns to Congress

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

POLITICO AND THE HILL have recently reported on the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW), and how it is becoming the focal point of an advocacy battle between big-name beers and their smaller counterparts. POLITICO notes that “the Craft Brewers Association sent 243 of its members to Capitol Hill this week to lobby [for the bill...]” which, according to OpenSecrets, the association’s leader (Bob Pease) is calling “the biggest-ever lobby day — setting up meetings for 250 brewery owners with 90 Senate and 250 House offices.”

The aim of Small BREW, which has just recently been revived after its introduction in 2011,  is to “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a reduced rate of excise tax on beer produced domestically by certain small producers.”  “If enacted,” according to the Hill:

…the Small BREW Act would cut the federal excise tax on beer from $7 a barrel to $3.50, which is placed on a small brewer’s first 60,000 barrels produced per year. After that initial 60,000 barrels, small brewers must pay $18 per barrel, which would be lowered to $16 under the bill.

The Beer Institute, whose members include corporate mammoths like Heineken USA, MillerCoors, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and Anheuser-Busch, is opposed to the bill on the grounds that it divides the industry.  It instead supports an alternative measure – the Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief (BEER) Act – which would lower excise taxes on all brewers, not just the small ones.  But whereas The Beer Institute will “actively oppose” Small BREW, the Brewers Association supports both bills.  It just prefers its own.

POLITICO on Why K St. = (R) St.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

THIS MORNING, POLITICO’S Anna Palmer and Elizabeth Titus published an article entitled “Why Republicans still run K Street.”  In about 1,400 words, they offer eleven possibilities:

  1. K St. bet red in 2012 – “Some companies bet that Republicans would take back the Senate and the White House in 2012, beginning the process of scooping up talent months ahead of the election.”
  2. K St. is plain bias – “’There seems to be a philosophical and political bias against Democrats,’ McCormick Group’s Ivan Adler said.”
  3. K St. bet red in 2012 AND K St. is plain bias – “The bias toward hiring Republicans was on display over the past two years when corporations and trade groups continued to bet on Romney and Republican chances of taking back the Senate when making hiring decisions and in choosing to retain their top GOP talent.”
  4. There’s a shortage of Dems – “There are also fewer Democrats coming off the Hill or out of the White House who want to pursue corporate lobbying.”
  5. Republicans = business (1 of 2) – “The business world tends to hire more Republicans, anyway, since their beliefs align more closely with those of corporate clients, and potential Republican hires tend to have more corporate experience or a proven record leading an association or in-house team.”
  6. Republicans = business (2 of 2) -”Former Rep. Billy Tauzin told POLITICO that Republicans may dominate downtown ‘because most associations are business groups, which have, generally speaking, a closer association with the Republican Party.’”
  7. Tom DeLay – “[AKA the] K Street Project, in which then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) helped lead an effort to install Republicans in many of the top trade associations.”
  8. K St. hires Dems, just not for No. 1 roles – “Many Democrats are hired instead to be the No. 2 lobbyist in the shop, giving associations and companies plenty of political cover on Capitol Hill.”
  9. K St. is dominated by Republican issues – “There are also many industries — such as oil, financial services and health care — that a significant number of Democrats are unwilling to represent.”
  10. Administration officials are loath to lobby – “Democrats leaving the Obama White House have also been more reluctant than previous administrations of either party to join the influence-peddling ranks.”
  11. Powerful friends happen to be Republican – “Veteran Republican Frank Fahrenkopf said personal relationships and the scope of each group’s work matter more than partisan affiliation.”

House of Cards: Fact or Fiction?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

DESPITE PROFUSE PLEAS from friends and family, your humble blogger hasn’t seen House of Cards. According to Roll Call, that amounts to repeated missed opportunities to catch a glimpse of Cassidy & Associates’ G St. facade. According to The Economist, it means passing up scenes of politicians:

…lying, leaking secrets to lobbyists, framing rivals, indulging in fistfights (one in front of wide-eyed children) and snorting cocaine, as well as sleeping with prostitutes, their own staff and a story-hungry reporter.

While the Cassidy building’s existence is undisputed, it’s dubious whether any lawmakers are snorting coke. So what’s the veracity of the show?

It’s pretty accurate…

“Honestly, the egos and the quest and thirst for power is very prevalent in Washington…just the drive, you know, the drive to the next position or the drive for the position of power” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)

“The accuracy of the props—from congressional doorplates to visitors’ badges—is much discussed, and praised.” - The Economist

“…after the first couple of shows, [Underwood’s] office starts looking like my office. I have this big map, right, sitting in there. I look over on the wall, he’s got that whip sitting up there….Then in the ninth episode, he’s trying to pass this bill, and he says, ‘I’m going to tell you one thing: You vote your district, you vote your conscience. Just don’t surprise me.’ [I said that.]” Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) 

“It’s like evil ‘West Wing.’ And some of the shadier parts are so realistic.” – GOP strategist Amy Thoma

It’s fantasy…

“In real life, says a Democratic campaign aide, members of Congress are too nannied by staff to stride about hatching plots, one-on-one. In the real Washington, says a Republican staffer, leadership coups take longer to ferment….Other errors fall under the heading of flattery: the clothes are too elegant for DC, and the ratio of sexual trysts to committee meetings is strikingly high.” – The Economist

“The notion of any of our leadership team having sex with a reporter makes me laugh out loud.  And besides, everyone knows there is no decent barbecue in Washington.” – Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

“[The characters] do mix fundraising and legislation far more than people would do…offering x dollars to anyone who would support this bill.  That would never occur in real life.” – Thoma

“If I were to make one criticism of the show, it’s [that] a South Carolina congressman’s barbecue of choice appears to be fairly sticky ribs, when true South Carolina barbecue uses a mustard-based sauce and even when it’s not that, it’s a more North Carolina vinegar mop.” -  Mike BoberMeat Week founder and Capital Spice blogger

Lobbying at a Glance

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

FIRST IT WAS mid-sized banks (see previous post), now it’s credit unions. The latter have been lobbying against Dodd Frank reforms, arguing that they’re too harsh. “Credit unions are well-managed, well-run institutions that did not engage in the practices that led to the financial crisis,” said Fred Becker, [The National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU)] president and CEO. “Yet, the regulatory burden on our nation’s credit unions has reached epic proportions and that must be addressed immediately.” – The Hill

Associations are increasingly using Relationships, Advocability, and Political capital (RAP) indices to gain leverage on the Hill: “Here’s how it works: a trade association or advocacy group sends the RAP Index survey to their members by email. The software confirms their address, and finds a list of their local, state or federal elected officials. The survey asks members in-depth questions about any relationships with those officials and whether they’d be willing to be media surrogates.” – POLITICO

Nike is lobbying on behalf of the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty (TPP), which was designed in part to remove tariffs between the U.S. and other countries along the Pacific Rim. The $67 billion shoe company would benefit from the elimination of duties on shoes made abroad: “But others are fighting to keep the tariffs in place. New Balance, the Boston-based athletic shoe maker, wants to maintain tariffs on shoes from Vietnam in order to protect the jobs of 1,350 New Balance workers who make footwear in the United States. A quarter of the shoes the company sells in North America are made in its U.S. manufacturing facilities.” – The Washington Post

The Keystone pipeline is still very much an issue, with thousands upon thousands gathering on the Mall Sunday to rally against its construction: “The rally, which was organized by the Sierra Club, 350.org and the Hip Hop Caucus, was billed as the largest climate rally in American history. Organizers estimated that about 35,000 people participated in the rally. The U.S. Park Police does not give crowd estimates.” – POLITICO

Some lobbyists continue to deploy opposition (“oppo”) researchers to disarm and discredit their foes: “Oppo researchers — who often have backgrounds in politics, government and law enforcement that may include the FBI or even the intelligence community — will also scan court documents, public records, campaign finance and lobbying disclosures and reach out to their contacts on Capitol Hill, K Street and in local communities.” – Roll Call

 

Lobbying at a Glance

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT regulations that would require retail food sellers to label the calorie content in their food are rousing lobbyists from every corner: “Some pizza companies have demanded more flexibility, grocery and convenience stores insist they should be left out of it altogether and movie theaters really don’t want to shout out how many calories are in those buckets of popcorn.” – POLITICO

Ex-Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will become a lobbyist, the latest in a growing list of recently retired lawmakers migrating to K St.: “The former senator has been named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). He will be the group’s chief spokesman and primary advocate in Washington. NAIC is made up of state insurance regulators and helps coordinate their oversight across the country.” – The Hill

Ex-Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will become a lobbyist…again: “Like Democratic moderate Evan Bayh before him, Nelson is taking two K Street jobs. In addition to the NAIC, Nelson will be a ‘senior partner’ at public affairs firm Agenda.”  Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner adds: “Ben Nelson, as a Senator, provided crucial support for both [the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank]….This is one reason moderates have the quickest track to K Street. Their economic vision is generally both pro-business and pro-government. Whatever effect this has on business and the economy, it makes lots of work for lobbyists.” – The Washington Examiner

Four years after his executive order banning lobbyist gifts to executive agency appointees and slowing the revolving door, the President’s “lobby posture” is attracting revivified scrutiny: “Most lobbyists have complained that Obama’s executive orders on the revolving door have kept out some of the savviest policy experts, who are registered lobbyists. Further, they say, by branding registered lobbyists, whose clients and fees are publicly disclosed, with what amounts to a scarlet letter “L,” Obama has increased the ranks of the unlobbyists, those who peddle influence but don’t register with Congress.” – Roll Call

Disclosure reports are in, revealing a lackluster year for lobby firms: “Few K Street firms were able to escape the downward pull, with even industry leaders Patton Boggs and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld reporting a drop in their lobbying revenue from 2011….Lobbyists across the board expressed high hopes for the year to come. A reelected and reinvigorated president and a Congress more willing to consider big legislative items should be the ticket to stronger growth, they said.” – The Hill

A $100 cap on lobbyist gifts in Georgia is stoking some interesting debate: “One argument supporting higher legislator pay ties into the gift issue: If lawmakers earned more, they “would be less likely to feel entitled to the free meals, booze, and tickets to concerts and football games” given by lobbyists.” – Smyrna-Vinings Patch

Two New Resources for Lobbyists

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

The State Lobbying Compliance Handbook is available fore pre-order here.  The 113th Congressional Freshmen Report can be ordered as a full report or with select member profiles here.   

THIS BLOG HAS  no objection to self-promotion. But even if it did it would strain to suppress the announcement of Lobbyists.info’s two latest publications, The State Lobbying Compliance Handbook and The 113th Congressional Freshmen Report, both of which cast fresh light on areas hitherto very dim.

Take state lobbying. Until now, there have only been feeble attempts to conglomerate the disparate and contradictory elements of state lobby law. Yet the appetite for such a project has grown in recent years. Post-recession stimulus provoked a clamoring for clout in state legislatures and governors’ offices. Washington gridlock has driven many to look elsewhere.  State and local government affairs operations have sprung up to compete with their federal counterparts. Natural as these actions were, they each brought headaches – nobody knew what they were doing. There was no authority to declare that principals must register in California whereas across the border in Oregon and Nevada no such requirement exists. There was no treasury of paperwork from which lobbyists and practitioners could access any form requisite to compliance. There simply was no escape from the cumbersome research required to get things moving.

The State Lobbying Compliance Handbook, published by Columbia Books in collaboration with Holtzman Vogel Josefiak PLLC, is a deliverance from these woes. Due in March (and available for pre-order here), the book offers as its main feature concise summaries of each state’s lobbying regulations with up-to-date forms ready for submission. In just a few hundred pages, it slashes the countless opportunity costs that would otherwise be squandered on research, and extinguishes the potential risk of noncompliance.

Though very different, The 113th Congressional Freshmen Report has a similar function. Like the state handbook, it brings understanding where understanding is both anxiously wanted and hopelessly lacking. The freshman class of the 113th Congress is, to a large extent, unknown. Its members have no congressional track record, and many haven’t uttered a breath on policy positions important to lobbyists. Most significantly, this unfamiliar cohort comprises over a sixth of Congress.

Dr. Gary Feld, founder of PowerBase Associates, assigned his research staff the task of discovering more about these newcomers. After combing through thousands of media sources, filtering the results, and fitting them into a readable guide, the report was born.  Now being published by Columbia Books, its use will hopefully make the new Congress less of an enigma.

Lobbying at a Glance

Thursday, December 27th, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

FORMER SENATOR Bob Bennet (R-Utah) will return to Washington as a lobbyist, ending what he calls a “let's-punish-politicians-for-being-politicians” cool-off period.  The Examiner’s Tim Carney shared a few words on Bennet's appeal to the first amendment for the right to lobby.

Georgia will begin 2013 with a $100 gift cap.

The Maryland Ethics Commission released its list of top-paid lobbyists.

A petition to deport CNN's Piers Morgan “for attacking [the] 2nd amendment,” made the White House petition page, and has since (as of this posting) garnered over 82,000 signatures.  A less successful counter-petition aims to keep Morgan in the U.S., partly “to see how loads of angry Americans react.”

Congressman elect Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) has become a “how to get your ex back

184800091.html”>Congressional Friend” of the Irish National Caucus.  His soon-to-be predecessor, outgoing Online Pokies Congressman Barney Frank, has been sitting for numerous exit interviews.  In this one, Frank is asked “what grade do you give yourself? 1-10?”  His reply: “I give myself a 10 for being smart enough not to answer that question.”

According to The Atlantic, lobbyists should expect incoming Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who is replacing the late Daniel Inoyue, “…to be a consistent liberal in a reliably Democratic state. He supported a 2009 bill to legalize civil unions that was vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle. In keeping with his work in saving beaches, he's also emphasized environmental concerns and served on energy- and environment-related committees in the Hawaii House.”

Looming over all of this is the fiscal cliff.  The Wall Street Journal's fiscal cliff graphics page makes an otherwise tiresome and complicated subject intelligible. (Also see the Nov. 30 LobbyBlog).

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