With Daniel Lippman
FIRST IN PI — CAPITOL COUNSEL STANDING UP PRACTICE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPLEMENTATION: As K Street prepares to descend on federal agencies tasked with standing up new programs or doling out funding included in last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill on behalf of clients, the lobbying firm Capitol Counsel is forming a new practice dedicated solely to helping clients with implementation of the bill.
— The new practice will be helmed by Rob Diamond, an Obama administration alum who served as the New York state director for Obama’s reelection and Biden’s 2020 campaign; Jonathan Kott, a former top aide to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.); Jeff Carroll, a longtime former aide to House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.); Josh Kardon, a former aide to Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); Joe Eannello, a former aide to ex-Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.); Brad Mollet, a former aide to former Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.); Ethan Pittleman, a former aide to Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.); Margaret Cekuta, a Council of Economic Advisers and USTR alum; and Genny Beltrone, a Senate Commerce and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) alum.
— Implementing the $1.2 trillion bill, which included more than $500 billion in new spending, “is the number one priority of the Biden Administration in 2022,” Diamond said in a statement. “This unprecedented amount of funding — much of it allocated through competitive grants — requires a dedicated focus and in-depth agency program and congressional procedure knowledge that we are excited to offer clients through this new service.”
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FIRST IN PI — J STREET TO LAUNCH INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES ARM: Liberal pro-Israel advocacy group J Street is launching the J Street Action Fund, through which it hopes to raise $1 million to drop on independent expenditures on congressional races during the 2022 cycle. J Street is the second major pro-Israel group to unveil plans to get into the I.E. game during the midterms after AIPAC formed a PAC and super PACto support candidates — though J Street noted that its committee had been in the works long before AIPAC’s announcement late last year.
— J Street already operates a PAC called JStreetPAC, which raised and spent nearly $10 million to back congressional candidates and now-President Joe Biden in 2020, but the new independent expenditures arm will be a separate entity within the group’s existing 501(c)(4). “With American democracy itself under threat and groups to our right increasingly spending millions to push candidates towards more hawkish and conservative positions, the Action Fund will be a critical new tool of our work,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the organization’s president, in a statement, “allowing the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement to play a more involved role in key races of national importance.”
— The group is also forming J Street Grassroots Action, which will send contributions to local organizations focused on grassroots organizing in key states, which for this year’s midterms include Georgia Alliance for Progress in Georgia and Living United for Change in Arizona, the sites of two key Senate races.
BIDEN-LINKED FIRMS RAKED IN THE DOUGH DURING HIS FIRST YEAR: Washington’s top lobbying firms reported record lobbying revenues in 2021, and perhaps no one benefited more than lobbying shops with ties to President Joe Biden and his administration, your host reported over the weekend.
— At Chris Putala’s Putala Strategies, annual lobbying revenues soared from $1.3 million in 2020 to $4 million in 2021 — an increase of more than 200 percent — according to a review of lobbying disclosures. Putala signed more than a dozen new clients in 2021. (For comparison, that’s nearly as many as the one-man firm signed in the entire decade prior — Putala signed no new clients between 2016 and 2020, when his former boss was no longer in office, according to lobbying disclosures.)
— Throughout the year, Putala reported lobbying the West Wing on behalf of several prominent corporate clients including T-Mobile and Comcast. Putala also reported lobbying the White House on behalf of PhRMA, the Entertainment Software Association, the NCTA — The Internet & Television Association, and the U.S. subsidiary of Dutch chipmaker ASML.
— Jeff Ricchetti’s Ricchetti Inc. saw lobbying revenues continue to climb, a trend that began in 2020 when Biden became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and continued as his brother, Biden aide Steve Ricchetti, became a key negotiator for the White House on Capitol Hill. Ricchetti Inc. brought in $3.2 million in lobbying fees in 2021, up from $1.3 million in 2020 — a 150 percent increase. Though disclosures show he stuck to a pledge not to lobby the White House directly, Ricchetti sought to influence the House and Senate for clients like Amazon, General Motors, Horizon Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline and Finseca on key parts of Biden’s legislative agenda.
— At TheGROUP D.C., where Sudafi Henry, Biden’s former vice presidential director of legislative affairs, is a partner, annual lobbying revenues more than doubled from $3.6 million in 2020 to $7.5 million in 2021. The firm also employs Kwabena Nsiah, a former chief of staff to Biden adviser Cedric Richmond and an aide to former Rep. Xavier Becerra, now Biden’s HHS secretary.
— TheGROUP boasts a growing roster of major corporate clients, from Pfizer to Lyft to Facebook parent company Meta, and disclosures show Henry, Nsiah and their firm lobbied the White House on behalf of several of those clients over the past year, including Abbott Laboratories (one of the major manufacturers of Covid tests), the American Health Care Association, the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., Charter Communications, Dell and Pfizer, after never previously reporting lobbying the White House.
THE RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION’S LATEST RELIEF PITCH: The National Restaurant Association renewed its pleas for lawmakers to come together on legislation to refill the coffers of an industry-targeted grant program, releasing survey data from the trade group showing that the initial round of funding for last year’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund has saved 900,000 jobs in the industry and that re-upping the fund could save a further 1.6 million restaurant jobs.
— Sean Kennedy, the organization’s top lobbyist, outlined the survey’s findings in a letter to congressional leadership this morning and made the case that the surge in cases because of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has “paralyzed” any recovery for the industry. According to the restaurant association, 88 percent of restaurants have seen a decline in demand for indoor or on-site dining coinciding with the rise in the Omicron variant. Nearly half of restaurant operators who applied for an RRF grant but did not receive one feel it’s unlikely that they will stay in business beyond the pandemic without a grant, the survey found.
— On a call with reporters this afternoon, Kennedy pointed to the Feb. 18 government funding deadline and Biden’s March 1 State of the Union address as key dates in the industry’s latest aid push. The evenly divided Senate, where Kennedy said there are 57 backers for the relief effort while Republicans have expressed pause over yet another round of government spending, is “ground zero” for those efforts.
— Hudson Riehle, the group’s senior vice president of research and knowledge, argued that restaurants’ economic trickle-down effects provide a “disproportionately high amount of economic stimuluses” that should be weighed by policymakers, and Kennedy framed more funds for the industry as an investment rather than an expense.
— “We are the nation’s second largest private sector employer, and yet every warning light for our industry is blinking red, and that needs to be something that Congress is focusing on and thinking about,” Kennedy said of what the group’s survey data shows. “The most sensible way out is, Congress doesn’t need to create a new program — they don’t need to worry about doing the setup. We know that our RRF works, the number of success stories is clear.” He added that the trade group plans to use its data as part of “the final advocacy push that you’re going to see from us and our state restaurant association partners in the coming weeks to bring this over the finish line.”
TRUMP-LINKED LOBBYIST OVERSEEING JAN. 6 LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: “Former President Donald Trump‘s team has been involved in discussions about a legal defense fund created to support aides targeted by the House panel investigating January 6,” sources tell CNN’s Gabby Orr and Annie Grayer.
— “While declining to use his own war chest to cover the sky-high legal bills that some of his current and former aides are facing, Trump’s team has instead been working with” Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union and a lobbyist at Cove Strategies, “to determine which individuals subpoenaed by the select committee should receive help from Schlapp’s ‘First Amendment Fund,’ which is run by the ACU’s nonprofit arm.”
— “Schlapp told CNN that he is ‘in communication with [Trump’s] team’ about who can and cannot take advantage of the legal fund, which he said has raised ‘over seven figures’ from donors. While Schlapp has not yet rejected any requests, he acknowledged that there will likely come a point where he ‘will have to make choices on who to fund.’”
— Finseca has promoted Jennifer Fox to vice president of political affairs. She was previously assistant vice president of political affairs at the trade group.
— Miranda Margowsky is joining the Financial Technology Association as vice president of communications. She most recently was a vice president at Precision Strategies and is a Hill veteran.
— Patrick Donovan has joined the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership as chief policy officer, and Andrew Earl has been promoted to director of government relations. Donovan was most recently a senior adviser on farm bill, water, and public land issues for Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Earl was previously TRCP’s lead on private land conservation and chronic wasting disease.
— I AM ALS named Laura Dalle Pazze its chief executive officer. She was previously president and chief operating officer at Charley’s Fund, a Duchenne muscular dystrophy advocacy organization.
— Adam Tarr is heading to Invariant to advise food, agriculture and environment clients, Morning Agriculture reports. Tarr was most recently a top aide on climate policy for the Senate Agriculture Committee, helping craft the climate-focused ag provisions in Democrats’ Build Back Better package, and is a USDA alum under Secretary Tom Vilsack.
— Moira Vahey has joined Plaid to lead policy communications. Vahey was most recently communications director at the Student Borrowing Protection Center and previously served as a fintech adviser and agency spokesperson at the CFPB.
— David Kieve is the new president of EDF Action. Kieve previously served as director of public engagement for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Kieve was director of early states for Biden’s campaign, with a particular focus on Nevada.
— Canadian Pacific Railway has hired Larry Lloyd as its new director of state government affairs. Lloyd previously worked at the Canadian National Railway and GoRail.
— Ellen Canale, who has directed communications for Mozilla, is joining Stellar Development next month.
— Karen Modlin has joined Zayo Group as director of communications. She most recently managed corporate communications at Dish Network.
— Biden alum Kurt Bagley (national organizing director in 2020) is launching BFD Strategies with other Biden-Harris alums ahead of the midterms, per Playbook. The group will help “campaigns and other organizations in building both on-the-ground field programs and innovative digital organizing strategies.”
— John Weber is now deputy director of speech writing for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He was recently a national press secretary and political media strategist at the AFL-CIO and is a DNC and EMILY’s List alum.
— Lauren Baldwin is now a policy analyst for America First Policy Institute’s Center for American Values. She previously was a legislative correspondent for Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
— Andrew Nicholson is now an associate director of government relations at Imperium Global Advisors. He previously was a legislative assistant for Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.).
Accountability Project (Super PAC)
The Committee for Internet Change (PAC)
Community Legacy Fund Federal PAC (PAC)
Fair Elections Group (Super PAC)
Food and Water Action PAC (Super PAC)
Friends of Anthony J. Vesona for Town Justice (Super PAC)
Higher Ground PAC Inc (Leadership PAC: Joe Pinion)
Labor Legacy SuperPAC (Super PAC)
The Lawton Fort Sill Fires Patriots, Inc. Political Action Committee (PAC)
Never Back Down PAC (Super PAC)
Stop Socialism in OC (Super PAC)
VA CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP FUND (Leadership PAC: Bob Good)
Yes to LCSC (Hybrid PAC)
Acg Advocacy: Common Sense Media
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Analog Devices, Inc.
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Beef Alliance
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Shelby County, Tn
Lkb Strategies LLC: Sl Strategies, LLC (On Behalf Of Batelle Memorial Institute)
Lkb Strategies LLC: Sl Strategies, LLC (On Behalf Of Biotechnology Innovation Organization)
Monument Advocacy: World Central Kitchen
South Dakota Corn Growers Association: South Dakota Corn Growers Association
Alliance One: Algonquin Power & Utilities Fka (Empire District Electric)
Alpine Group Partners, LLC.: Pure Storage, Inc.
Barnes & Thornburg LLP: Arc American Inc.
Barnes & Thornburg LLP: Lower Sioux Indian Community In The State Of Minnesota
Capitol Hill Consulting Group: Allied Bioscience, Inc.
Capitol Hill Consulting Group: American Academy Of Ophthalmology
Capitol Hill Consulting Group: Ancsa Regional Association
Capitol Hill Consulting Group: Coldchain Technology Services, LLC
Capitol Hill Consulting Group: Greenbriar Capital Corp.
Capitol Hill Consulting Group: Knife Rights, Inc.
Capitol Hill Consulting Group: Private Alliance For Economic Growth Of Puerto Rico
Christopher Heinz: Performance Based Buildings Coalition
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP: International Swaps And Derivatives Association, Inc.
Debbie Weatherly: Capitol Concerts
Echelon Government Affairs: Scientific Analytics
Edmund Graber: Portland Cement Association
Envision Strategy: Napoli Shkolnik Pllc
Jamison Group, LLC: Josephine County, Oregon
Jst Strategies LLC (Formerly Jochum Shore & Trossevin Pc): All Aboard America! Holdings, Inc.
Mr. Jonathan Gregory: Zhs Ip Americas Sarl (On Behalf Of Apco Worldwide)
Ms. Karen Johnson: Potomac Strategic Development On Behalf Of Bethany Christian Services
Randall Davis Associates LLC: Rai Services Company
The Rose Company, LLC: Quidnet Energy Inc.
Triumph Group, Inc: Triumph Group, Inc
Winn Strategies, LLC: Twinlogic Strategies Obo Sheppard,Mullin,Richter&Mullin Obo Niagara Bottling,LLC