Kate Ackley

Gun laws may not be changing, but the gun debate certainly is
Fewer and fewer elected Democrats fret much anymore about taking on the NRA

ANALYSIS — That almost nothing has changed in federal gun policy since Newtown or Parkland or any mass shooting before or after belies the enormous transformation underway in the lobbying and political landscapes of the issue.

Gun safety groups now operate a lot more like their opponents: amassing a national network of grassroots activists that descend on Capitol Hill and show up in lawmakers’ districts; spending big on political campaigns; and retaining some of the biggest names on K Street, firms that also represent the likes of Amazon and Goldman Sachs.

Elizabeth Warren’s K Street overhaul
Plan would prohibit former lawmakers and officials from lobbying, expand ‘cooling-off’ periods and more

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who regularly blasts the lobbying and influence sector, announced a new set of proposals Monday aimed at curbing the revolving door between business and government.

She would prohibit members of Congress and other top officials from ever becoming lobbyists and would expand cooling-off periods to at least two years for lower-level officials.

K Street’s CGCN Group picks up big names from Definers
Matt Rhodes and Antonia Ferrier join growing GOP lobbying firm

The CGCN Group, a K Street shop known for its deep Republican connections, is scooping up Matt Rhoades and Antonia Ferrier from the communications and opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs.

Rhoades, who managed the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign, will serve as co-CEO, along with GOP lobbyist Sam Geduldig, of CGCN. Ferrier is a former Republican congressional aide, most recently working for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

K Street doesn’t need just any old retired lawmakers
Political Theater, Episode 92

Lobbying firms on K Street and trade associations used to be a sure bet for retiring members of Congress. Not anymore.

Julian Ha, a recruiter on K Street and an adviser to FiscalNote, the company that owns CQ Roll Call, joins the podcast along with CQ Roll Call senior writer Kate Ackley to talk about the current state of lobbying positions for former lawmakers.

Rodney Davis seeks to ban public financing in campaigns
Illinois Republican’s bill is unlikely to move in Democrat-controlled House

Rep. Rodney Davis said Tuesday he was introducing a bill to ban public financing of congressional campaigns, hitting at a signature piece of House Democrats’ political money overhaul.

“Public financing of campaigns will fill the swamp, and any member who voted for it was voting to fill their own pockets and the pockets of political operatives nationwide,” the Illinois Republican said on the House floor Tuesday afternoon, according to remarks sent out by his office.

Retiring lawmakers will face tough market on K Street
‘K Street is not hungering for former members,’ senator-turned-lobbyist Norm Coleman says

K Street recruiters are poring over the list of 21, and counting, lawmakers planning to exit Congress, but the lobbying sector may offer a shrinking supply of big-money gigs heading into the 2020 elections. 

As more House members and senators consider making their escape from Capitol Hill, the realities of the K Street economy and the well-worn revolving door will be among their considerations, say insiders at lobbying firms and downtown headhunters.

Tim Ryan misses next presidential debate, but has a backup plan
Still running for president, the Ohio Democrat scheduled a fundraiser for his simultaneous congressional campaign

After failing to qualify for next month’s televised Democratic presidential debate, Rep. Tim Ryan pledged to keep his White House bid going, but his simultaneous congressional campaign is gearing up for an upcoming fundraiser at a Capitol Hill townhouse.

The Ohio Democrat, who has two separate campaigns for the 2020 elections, is inviting lobbyists and others to a Sept. 25 fundraising reception to benefit his congressional reelection bid, according to a recent invitation obtained by CQ Roll Call. The event is also listed on a rundown of upcoming events distributed by House Democrats’ campaign committee.

Could take FEC a while to regain a quorum, but don’t expect a ‘Wild West’
Watchdog agency will not have enough commissioners to hold meetings or issue guidance

Even as the Federal Election Commission prepares to grind to a halt on the cusp of the 2020 elections, campaign finance experts say politicians and donors who flout the nation’s political money rules may still suffer consequences.

The hobbled agency, which is supposed to have three Democratic and three Republican commissioners, will be down to just three total commissioners starting next week with the departure of Republican Matthew Petersen on Aug. 31. That means the FEC can’t hold meetings or hearings, let alone take enforcement action against rule-breakers, because it lacks the minimum of four commissioners required for a quorum.

David Koch leaves behind legacy of dark money political network
Allies and foes agree libertarian billionaire transformed the nation's politics

Republican mega-donor David Koch, who helped pioneer a network of often surreptitious organizations aimed at influencing elections and public policy, leaves behind a legacy of dark-money groups and a volatile political landscape.

Koch, one half of the Koch Brothers along with his older brother Charles, died at age 79, the billionaires’ company, Kansas-based Koch Industries, said Friday. David Koch had stepped away from business and politics in 2018 for health reasons and had previously battled cancer, though the company did not say the exact cause of death.

Modernization panel calls for staffer HR hub, mandatory cybersecurity training
Package of recommendations is ‘really a big deal,’ Graves says

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress unanimously approved two dozen recommendations Thursday, urging lawmakers to create a centralized human resources hub for staffers, resurrect the Office of Technology Assessment and make cybersecurity training mandatory.

The recommendations, the second batch for the one-year panel, also included making permanent the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, updating the staff payroll system to semimonthly, creating a Congressional Leadership Academy to train lawmakers and reestablishing the OTA, which would advise Congress on technology matters.

Amazon, Facebook up their K Street spending; other players dip

Tech powerhouses Facebook and Amazon spent the most in their histories on lobbying in this year’s second quarter, propelling them into the top tier of K Street spenders, while other big players reported a decline in their lobbying investment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long the dominant big spender, continued its reign, despite recent turmoil in staffing and a leadership change that has raised questions about the organization’s future. The chamber, drug industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and Northrop Grumman reported a dip in spending in the second quarter when compared with the first three months of the year, according to just filed lobbying reports.

Rep. Derek Kilmer: Disputes among Democrats amount to ‘false divisions’
On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control, Democrats are more unified than divided, congressman says

Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat who chairs the moderate, business-friendly New Democrat Coalition, sought to downplay disputes within his own party, calling them “false divisions within the caucus.”   

On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control matters, Democrats are more unified than divided, Kilmer told C-SPAN “Newsmakers” in an interview that airs on July 28, despite recent intraparty conflicts on such matters as the border crisis and legislation to raise the minimum wage, leading to heated rhetoric, particularly between progressives and moderates.

Clete Willems is trading in the White House for K Street
“My biggest joke now is I went to become a partner in a law firm, so I can work less”

The timing of Clete Willems’ recent departure from the White House seemed a bit inopportune what with negotiations over trade disputes with China hitting a pivotal point. But the international economics adviser to the president says he had other commitments to keep.

Though the Trump White House has a reputation for unpredictability and plenty of staffing drama, Willems says the reason for his departure was more personal. When he took on the new gig at the beginning of the Trump administration, he made a pact with his wife: When they had a second child, he would head for the exit. His daughter was born in March.

The mountains between Congress and modernization

Time is running out for the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress to find bipartisan consensus on a variety of issues.

House doing ‘deep dive’ to smooth new member office setup
‘It’s been sort of a nightmare,’ House CAO Philip Kiko tells select committee

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the House is conducting a “deep dive” into the problems of setting up offices for the 116th Congress’ large freshman class, according to CAO Philip Kiko.

“It’s been sort of a nightmare,” Kiko told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress during a Thursday hearing on ways to ease the transition for newly elected members.

House modernization leaders seek consensus despite hurdles
Select committee is a long way from solving institutional problems

With 2019 half done, so is the lifespan of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

And the panel is still a long way from solving some of the big-scope institutional problems that House leaders asked it to. When it comes to some of the thornier political items — such as lawmaker pay raises and resurrecting earmarks — the panel is unlikely to agree.

Beltway ‘inundated’ with fundraisers as deadline nears
From barbecue to New Kids on the Block, it’s a busy week for money-seekers in Washington

The subject line of a recent email solicitation from Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s campaign captures this week’s fundraising scene perfectly: “You’re about to be inundated. Sorry in advance.”

With the second quarter fundraising deadline looming on Sunday, lawmakers are sounding the alarms for their donors — making pleas to far-flung, small-dollar givers online and reliable contributors from K Street’s lobbying community to help them boost their numbers.

Rep. Hartzler to host $500-per-person event for defense executives on eve of defense markup
The timing may raise eyebrows in the lobbying community and among campaign finance overhaul supporters

Updated June 10, 2019, 10 p.m. | Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a high-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, has invited defense industry executives and other D.C. insiders to a luncheon fundraiser Tuesday, on the eve of the panel’s signature markup of the year.

House Armed Services has scheduled its marathon markup of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which sets the Defense Department’s annual policy and budget priorities, for Wednesday.

Artificial intelligence is coming. Will Congress be ready?

It can help trace missing children, but misidentifies people of color. It can help detect cancer, but may recommend the wrong cure. It can help track criminals, but could aid foreign enemies in targeting voters. It can improve efficiency, but perpetuate long-standing biases.

The “it” is artificial intelligence, a technology that teaches machines to recognize complex patterns and make decisions based on them, much like humans do. While the promised benefits of the technology are profound, the downsides could be damaging, even dangerous.

Longtime U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Tom Donohue easing out of job

Longtime U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Thomas Donohue, a storied player on K Street for decades, is stepping back from his role atop the organization, shedding his title as president but pledging to remain with the group as CEO until June 2022.

Suzanne P. Clark, currently the chamber’s senior executive vice president, will assume the role of president, the group said Wednesday, noting it will “undertake a global search” for the next CEO.