Kate Ackley

Freedom Caucus Member’s Book Slams Money-Obsessed Politicians
In ‘Drain the Swamp,’ Ken Buck also takes aim at NRCC’s ‘pay-to-play’ culture

House Freedom Caucus member Ken Buck describes a money-hungry, lobbyist-influenced Republican leadership in his first book “Drain the Swamp” but he told CQ Roll Call that life is better for the hard-line conservative faction under Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

The Colorado Republican, now in his second term, has few kind words in his book released this week for Ryan’s predecessor, Ohio’s John A. Boehner, whom conservative lawmakers worked to oust. Boehner has since set up a practice at the K Street firm Squire Patton Boggs, and his spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

K Street Offers Five Tips for Tax Overhaul
Tip #2: Get the Freedom Caucus involved

Congressional Republicans and the White House can’t gloss over the collapse of their first signature measure — the 2010 health care law repeal and replace effort — but veteran lobbyists see cautionary tales in that mess for the next major overhaul.

A comprehensive revamp of the nation’s tax laws may avoid the health care bill’s fate, if lawmakers and administration officials take note of five lessons learned by K Street.

Pileup of Ethical Issues Gives Democrats Powerful Weapon Against Trump
Fog of suspicion continues to dog president on all sides

A small, previously obscure federal ethics office has catalogued a burst of inquiries and complaints from the public — more than 30,000 — since Donald Trump’s election as president, compared to a few hundred in all of fiscal 2015.

The huge increase in public outreach to the Office of Government Ethics reflects an administration with unprecedented corporate entanglements and an outwardly blase approach to ethics statutes and the truth, as well as a flair for scandal and drama.

GOP Lobbyists Launch New Shop as High-Profile Firm Fades
QGA Public Affairs was once among K Street's top moneymakers

The once high-profile K Street shop QGA Public Affairs is restructuring with the departure of Democratic founder Jack Quinn, and some of its marquee lobbyists are planning to open a new venture.

Republicans John Feehery, John Easton and Adam Belmar all are leaving to start EFB Advocacy, a boutique lobbying and communications shop in the Eastern Market section of Capitol Hill.

Mnuchin's ‘Batman’ Flap is No Joke, Ethics Experts Say
“It reflects a lack of concern for the ethics rules.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s disclaimer before promoting a movie he produced does not clear him of potential violations of ethics rules, experts said.

Mnuchin’s comments last week urging people to send their children to “The LEGO Batman Movie” prompted Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, to inquire this week on the Treasury secretary’s progress of divesting his financial assets. 

Ethics Watchdogs Make a Career of It
Norm Eisen and Richard Painter are among Trump’s most vocal critics

Norm Eisen, Barack Obama’s White House ethics czar, was such a stickler for enforcing the rules that even some colleagues privately expressed relief when he traipsed off to Prague for an ambassadorship.

Now, people can’t get enough of him.

Liberals Put Political Money in Spotlight of Gorsuch Fight
Senate Democrats urged to probe nominee’s views on campaign finance law

Democratic lawmakers and liberal interest groups are intensifying their pressure on senators to probe Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s views on campaign finance law during his confirmation hearings next week.

“He does not come into this with the benefit of the doubt in his favor,” said Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Judiciary Committee member. The panel is scheduled to begin the Colorado judge’s hearings at 11 a.m. Monday.

Former House GOP Campaign Chief Joins Holland & Knight
Tom Reynolds to boost firm’s ties to Republicans in power

Former House Republican campaign chief Thomas M. Reynolds, a New Yorker who spent five terms in Congress, is bringing his lobbying practice to Holland & Knight as the firm tries to expand its Republican ties. 

Reynolds retired from the House, where he served on the Ways and Means Committee, in 2009. He set up shop at the firm Nixon Peabody where his recent clients have included Goldman Sachs Group, the American Unity Fund and the Council for Affordable Housing and Rural Development, disclosures show.

Ethics Watchdog Pushes Back on White House View of Rules
OGE faults administration for not taking action against Kellyanne Conway

A top government ethics official told lawmakers Thursday that he was troubled by the Trump White House’s interpretation of ethics laws.

Walter M. Shaub Jr., who runs the Office of Government Ethics, said he remained concerned about comments last month by Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Donald Trump, encouraging Fox News viewers to purchase Ivanka Trump-branded products after some retailers announced they were discontinuing the presidential daughter’s line.

Top K Street Campaign Donors Already Writing Checks for 2018
GOP lobbyists focus on expanding Senate majority, Democrats target the House

K Street’s most generous political donors paid out a record sum during the 2016 campaign cycle, and many of them say they are already opening their wallets for next year’s elections despite fatigue at the pace of fundraising requests.

“I’m writing those checks a little more reluctantly — the hand is sort of shaking more than it used to,” said lobbyist Larry O’Brien, a longtime top donor to Democrats, only half-joking.

K Street Sees Opportunity, Fears in Trump Address to Congress
Lobbyists brace for what’s ahead

Lobbying groups and corporations say they are eager for President Donald Trump to buoy their favorite agenda items in his joint address to Congress on Tuesday, but some fear the commander in chief may also criticize their industries. 

K Street is preparing for both.

Lobbyists Worry Trump Woes Could Delay Policies
President’s first month has not gone as K Street had expected

Just weeks ago, K Street lobbyists believed they were on the cusp of a frenetic legislative sprint, but now some are beginning to fret that the Trump administration’s rocky start may stymie major tax, health care and infrastructure policy achievements.

Lobbyists for companies and business groups predicted that the first two years of the Trump administration, along with a Republican-controlled Congress, would buoy their portfolios in the same way that the Democrat-led 111th Congress did at the start of the Obama presidency. Federal lobbying expenditures in 2009 and 2010 hit their all-time high of $3.5 billion a year.

Democrats in a Dilemma Over Trump's Court Nominee
Senate Democrats will get a lot of advice about how to handle President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court — and it appears they need it.

There’s pressure from liberal advocacy groups and the party’s energized base for Democrats to pull out all the stops in an attempt to block Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation. Not only do those interests have concerns about his approach to abortion rights and environmental law, but they thirst for revenge for Republicans’ obstruction of former President Barack Obama’s nominee for the same seat.

Some moderate legal and political commentators, meanwhile, have urged Democrats to wait for another potential Supreme Court nominee to launch an all-out confirmation war — a possibility during the Trump administration since two justices are in their 80s. Gorsuch would replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, so his elevation from a federal appeals court in Denver wouldn’t shift the ideological balance of the high court anyway.

Lobbyists, Corporate Clients Open Wallets for Trump
K Streeters disclosed $5.3 million in donations to Trump from July through December of last year

K Street has entered the Trump era.

Lobbyists and organizations that seek to influence Washington mostly neglected the presidential campaign of Donald Trump early last year, but by the end of 2016, the sector had begun to embrace him, new lobbying disclosures show.

Trump’s Lobbying Ban May Not Curb K Street Influence
New loopholes allow recent lobbyists an easy way back into government

The new administration’s executive order limiting the future lobbying of its officials will do little to “drain the swamp,” as President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail, ethics watchdogs say.

Political appointees must sign an ethics pledge agreeing not to “engage in lobbying activities” related to their agency for five years, according to a Trump executive order issued Saturday. It also bars departing officials from ever engaging in lobbying, legal or public relations work on behalf of a foreign entity subject to disclosure under a 1938 law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Tax Overhaul, Regulatory Rollbacks Fuel K Street Lobbyists
Lobbying expenditures expected to increase in 2017

Debates over health care, tax policy and government spending fueled the biggest spenders on K Street in 2016, as groups now ramp up their lobbying on rolling back regulations from the Obama era and on a major tax overhaul during the Trump administration.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated Institute for Legal Reform spent more than $100 million last year seeking to influence numerous policy debates on trade, taxes, health care, labor and environmental regulations, according to lobbying disclosures filed by Monday night with Congress. It was an uptick from the chamber’s 2015 spending of $85 million and is a reflection that the group, unlike most on K Street, includes its political and grass-roots work on federal lobbying reports.

Poll: Most Americans Expect Major Scandal in Trump Era
Majority also concerned about president’s potential conflicts of interests

Most Americans say they have set low expectations for President Donald Trump’s ethical standards, with a majority predicting at least one major scandal, and perhaps many, will rock his administration.

As ethics watchdogs have blasted the next president for his plans to continue ownership of his private business, 39 percent of adults said they believed the Trump administration will have “many major scandals” while another 24 percent said it would have “a major scandal or two,” according to a new Economist/YouGov poll conducted Jan. 14-17.

House Moves to Disclose Presidential Library Funding
Would require quarterly disclosure of donations of $200 or more

The House on Wednesday quickly passed a bill that would give the public a better view of donations going to presidential libraries and may offer a temporary window into President Barack Obama’s fundraising.

The bipartisan measure championed by Tennessee Republican Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. and considered under suspension of the rules would provide a disclosure system for an otherwise opaque process. Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland is also a sponsor.

Trump Inaugural Gives Corporations an Outlet to Press Policy Agendas
Boeing, casino interests on the roster

The inauguration of Donald Trump, with a potential tab of $75 million, may offer corporations and their executives more than just candlelight dinners with the new president and his incoming Cabinet picks. It also could afford them moments to make the case for their policy agendas.

Donors to and members of Trump’s inaugural host committee have plenty of business before the government, as they offer big money to help foot the bill for the January festivities. The inaugural committee members hail from casinos, manufacturing outfits and financial firms, among others.

K Street Eyes Outgoing Lawmakers for Jobs
Premium on figuring out Trump and who knows who

The more than 50 lawmakers who will be jobless in a few weeks may encounter an unpredictable market on K Street, should they consider taking a spin through the revolving door.

Business interests feel bullish on next year’s potentially frenzied legislative agenda, stocked with tax and health care overhauls and debate over new infrastructure projects. But most lobbying groups have a tenuous rapport with the incoming Trump administration and are evaluating their hiring through that lens.