A Win for Reformers, Part II

The National Association of Manufacturers on Friday was handed its second setback in as many weeks in its effort to avoid complying with a part of the new lobbying law it contends is unconstitutional.

[IMGCAP(1)]U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who two weeks ago threw out the group’s challenge to the law’s disclosure requirement for coalitions, on Friday denied NAM’s follow-up request for a temporary injunction against the provision’s enforcement.

Even before that decision was announced, NAM lawyers filed an emergency injunction request with the D.C. Court of Appeals. At press time Friday, that court had not yet announced its decision.

A quick response from the court is crucial because, like all other lobbying groups in town, the association has until the close of business today to file its first-ever quarterly report under the new lobbying rules. If it fails to secure a timeout on the provision in question, NAM could be forced to disclose members it has said will quit the group if named.

Jan Amundson, NAM’s general counsel, said the group was still exploring its options. “We’re looking at our obligations and what are options are on disclosure. Once you disclose, you can’t take it back.”

If the appeals court denies their request, they have one last resort: the Supreme Court. “It’s not over, by a long shot, though it’s happening on a very expedited basis,” Amundson said.

Smoke Signals. Musical chairs at Altria Group continued last week with longtime outside lobbyist and former Rep. Robin Tallon (D-S.C.) jumping ship for competitor R.J. Reynolds.

Tallon & Associates had lobbied exclusively for Altria since 1999, when Tallon left the Tobacco Institute. He decided to leave, he said, after John Scruggs,

Altria’s longtime vice president of government relations and his good friend, announced his retirement.

“There’s a lot of changes going on over there now,” Tallon said. “All the people I had worked with are in the process of leaving. It just seemed like a good time to begin to change.”

Tallon says he’s also looking to broaden his client base and will likely take on other clients.

The move came just weeks after the announcement that Bruce Gates of Washington Council Ernst & Young would be taking over for Scruggs as Altria’s top lobbyist.

Off to the Races. Lobbyist Daniel Faraci, director of Grassroots Political Consulting, has signed up Raceway Park, a proposed motorbike track that would be built in the district of Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

This is no ordinary raceway operation, though. Faraci said the enterprise, founded by Australian turned Arizonan Kurt Peterson, would be largely solar-powered and environmentally friendly.

“The really exciting part is they are making all the garages and repair facilities completely solar-powered,” said Faraci, who signed up the client last week. “It will have a very large excess amount of power per day that they are going to pump back into the main electric grid for the state of Arizona to use.”

The enterprise also would bring some economic stimulus to La Paz County, Faraci said. “This is a bipartisan effort,” said Faraci, whose job it is to build awareness of the project on Capitol Hill and among lawmakers in Arizona. “It’s a way to rejuvenate the economic development.”

One potential problem lurks, however. “We’re politically trying to prepare ourselves that NASCAR may be an opposition force,” Faraci said.

“I think there’s a grave misconception that we would be a competitor,” he said, noting that motorbike racing has a different, more European fan base than NASCAR.

Stay tuned.

K Street Moves. After six years as vice president of federal and international affairs at BP, Peggy Hudson is leaving as part of a larger reorganization of its lobbying operation.

Hudson, in an interview, said she plans to exit the company at the end of this month to enjoy some “well-deserved time off this summer and begin the opportunity to look at the next challenge.”

Hudson has been in charge of an 11-person staff. She said she has spent 37 years working as a lobbyist or on Capitol Hill, where she was an aide to then-Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.).

Her replacement has not yet been announced.

• Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, didn’t spend much time — about a year — during his second stint at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

He announced last week that he is moving to the moneybags private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

Mehlman’s hire raised the eyebrows of several Democratic lobbyists, who noted that the besieged financial services industry already has selected GOPers for top slots. “I am baffled,” said one Democratic lobbyist.

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