Posts Tagged ‘k st.’

Top Lobby Firms on Fiscal Cliff

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

“FISCAL” AND “CLIFF” may be the two most common words in Washington today behind “and” and “the,” “the” being most frequently used to furnish “the fiscal cliff.”  Yet one has to plow through a lot of weeds to discover the context in which they are used or alluded to by top lobbying firms (googling “fiscal cliff” sure doesn't help).  Here I've done just that:

Patton Boggs –In November, Patton Boggs released a post-election forecast of what to expect in the months and year to come.  From the report: “Many Senators and Representatives recognize the irony that the best way to prevent going over the fiscal cliff this year is to cut a deal that merely creates a bigger cliff that would arrive in another six or twelve months. But doing so would at least keep us at the precipice.”

Akin, Gump –  Arshi Siddiqui, a partner at Akin Gump and former aide to Nanci Pelosi, expressed some optimism  in a November National Journal article: “I was happy about the rhetoric from the last meeting. Everyone realized that they needed a nice tone, and the markets responded nicely.  There will be lots of up and downs before we get to a successful resolution.”  By contrast, these meetings were described in the author’s terms as “Kumbaya rhetoric,” resembling “a stand-off in an old black-and-white Western movie, with two cowboys looking for the other to make the first move.”

Podesta GroupIn a recent Politico article, Tony Podesta, Founder and Chairman of Podesta Group, alluded to the business opportunities the cliff presents:  “This is a once in a generation opportunity to reform the tax code.  Companies I would imagine will put in extra resources. There will be plenty of opportunities.”

Holland & Knight – In the same vein (a

nd in fact the same article) Rich Gold, Partner at Holland & Knight, said “it's springtime in Washington in January”—a rather candid allusion to the gains lobbying firms stand to make by year’s end.

Van Scoyoc – Jeffrey Trinca, vice president of Van Scoyoc Associates, offers a unique perspective on the cliff as a longtime Senate tax counsel.  In a November Government Executive article about the administrative complications a delayed tax deal would bring to the IRS, Trinca said that “Congress is adding to the risk at IRS during the filing season.”  (Now quoting from the article…) “In the “good old days,” he said, Congress would finalize tax changes by the end of November or earlier, and IRS would make the necessary program changes in its computer systems. At the end of November, officials would say “no more” and, barring new legislation, they would “pause everything and focus on load testing,” Trinca said.”

Alston & Bird – Earl Pomeroy, former North Dakota Congressman and current Senior Counsel at Alston & Bird, deems Boehner the central figure in talks: “He has got one whale of a situation on his hands.”

U.S. Chamber – Not a lobby firm but certainly a lobby spender. President and CEO of the Chamber, Tom Donahue, had this to say in an op-ed entitled “America’s Looming Fiscal Cliff”: “We must adopt a fairer, simpler tax system that lowers marginal rates, encourages economic growth, promotes competitiveness and eases compliance. We must make sensible changes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other mandatory spending programs, which make up nearly 60 percent of our budget. Reforming entitlements is essential not just to our nation’s long-term fiscal health but to the future of the programs themselves. We must reform them to keep them solvent for other generations.”

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David Rehr: 7 tips for Embassy Relations with Capitol Hill

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

David Rehr is author of The Congressional Communications Report and has been listed as one of the nation’s top lobbyists.  He is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) at The George Washington University.  David can be contacted  at davidrehr@guw.edu. 

LAST WEDNESDAY, I was honored to participate in the Country Promotion Strategies Conference: a gathering of over 200 ambassadors and embassy personnel for a day of presentations on how to best maneuver Washington’s corridors of power.

While there, I shared with the crowd seven tips that foreign diplomats should consider when interacting with Congress.

The research below comes from The Congressional Communications Report (hereafter CCR), a landmark study on communication methods used by lobbyists in their dealings with congressional staff.

1. Provide credible information:

According to CCR, the most successful way to gain influence and access with congressmen and their staff is to provide credible information. At least this is what 46% of survey respondents thought, which is more than double the support given to the next most popular answers:

2. Have an existing relationship with members/staff (28%)
3. Have a reputation of seeking meetings (12%).

Neither brand nor money is at the top of the list. This indicates a playing field far more level than conventional wisdom would have it.

2. Use email:

This is the preferred method of contact with congressional staff. In fact, 67% of staff prefer email, while:

18% prefer the phone,
10% prefer meeting in person,
4% prefer mailed letters, and a paltry
0.1% prefer social media.

3. …and when you do use email, make it short and to the point:

Not just because this is easier for the recipient, but also because it’s easier for the phone. Mobile devices used on Capitol Hill are probably different from those used by your embassies. CCR shows that only 9% of Hill staff use iPhones, 2% use the Android, and a whopping 85% use Blackberry. The implication is that you need to minimize graphics, superfluous information, and anything that impedes the ability to click on your message. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to load, it will be deleted or skipped.

4. Stay in touch with the Congressional Research Service:

CCR shows that the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the most valuable source of information for congressional staff. This is followed by:

2) Academic/issue experts
3) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
4) Other Capitol Hill Staffers

Embassies should therefore consistently review how their country is being portrayed by these sources. They should also consider how and where to make a positive impact.

5. Improve your position on Google:

While staff rated the CRS and issue experts the most valuable sources, their preferred sources were slightly different:

1) Internet Searches
2) CRS
3) Other Capitol Hill Staffers
4) Relevant Federal Agencies

This means embassies should be Googling their country’s name to see what comes up. Whatever is there will be the foundation of many a staffer’s judgments.

6. Understand what actually influences decisions:

CCR measured 16 different lobbying tools. Here are several to keep in mind:

1) Reliable and concise information
2) Constituent support
3) Hiring of former members of Congress

It is important to note that there are substantial differences between Republican and Democratic staff on which tools are most effective.

7. Be cognizant of a Hill staffer’s daily routine:

Everyone knows that Hill staffers are busy, and CCR certainly confirms that. The average staffer receives 134 emails daily, with only 18% reading all of them. Some other stats:

20% of Hill staff visit more than twenty websites daily
25% conduct more than 20 web searches daily
77% meet with two or less lobbyists daily
72% meet with two or less other Hill staffers daily

Click here for a full version of The Congressional Communications Report. 

What K St. is Saying About the Election

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

As election night sulking and celebrating slowly ebbs outside the beltway, here’s a flavor of what the lobbying insiders are talking about:

On the “status quo election”

Republican lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford  in a memo to clients: “Leader Reid will have a tenuous majority from a policy perspective as several Democratic senators are philosophically closer to Republicans than many of their more progressive elected leaders.”

Lobbyist Bruce Mehlman of Mehlman, Vogel, Castagnetti: “The overwhelmingly high reelection rate of incumbents means Congress can attack the big issue logjam immediately. 2013 promises to be busier, more intense and more bipartisan than any year since 1997, with huge issues such as tax and fiscal reform actually starting to move.  Our Senate Democrats and House Republicans are already running full-speed.”

On lame ducks moving to K St.

Ivan Adler, principal at the McCormick Group:

  • “Those members who are seen [as] friendlier to business will have a much easier time getting hired by these firms than others.   The game is to get clients. You’re going to have to find people who can reach across the aisle in order to service them.”
  • If [Scott Brown] wanted to go lobby, I think he’s gold-plated.  Someone with Massachusetts interests should be looking at him.”
  • “The election has solidified the job prospects of the people working on the regulatory side, especially when it comes to ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. Those laws are here to stay.  K Street is going to hire people who can play goalie. They are going to have to be able to stop a lot of pucks.”

Chris Jones, managing partner at CapitolWorks: “Democrats that have come from a red state and Blue Dogs will continue to be a prized commodity.”

The Hill: “Though a number of lawmakers who lost their election bids will likely enter the lobbyist pool, several senators who were already known to be leaving Capitol Hill next year — including Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) — remain the most coveted prospects for K Street.”

On the lobbying agenda

Tim Ryan, chief executive of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: “With the election now over, it is vital that we return to the work at hand, namely, the continued implementation of Dodd-Frank and addressing the fiscal cliff.”

Tony Podesta, founder and chairman of Podesta Group: “If the [House] Speaker and the [Senate] majority leader are for it, you have got a shot at it. There won’t be any markup where you can add a few extraneous items to the bill. … The lobbying will be very narrow.  The odds of a passionate member of the leadership adding something to the bill may be low. The odds of the rank-and-file membership getting something into the bill are zero.”

Bob Van Heuvelen, founder of VH Strategies: “We are not going to be adding things to this Christmas tree. We are going to be clarifying what programs should and should not be cut. There are cuts that are going to be made, and that leads to winners and losers, which leads to the need for advocacy.  It’s going to be hard, but it’s not going to be impossible.”

Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), now special counsel to Alston & Bird: “If gridlock is a drought season for our kind of work, we’re going to enter the rainy season.”