You can check off David Rehr from the unofficial K Street watch list of endangered GOP association heads. The Republican lobbyist, best known for his hard-charging approach, abruptly resigned his post Wednesday at the helm of the National Association of Broadcasters.
While some Democrats on and off Capitol Hill had long complained of Rehrs partisan stripes, in the end it was more a matter of policy defeats than personality that led to his exit, industry sources said.
In early 2007, Rehr had made it the NABs mission to block the proposed merger between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Despite his efforts, the merger went through.
More recently, Rehrs industry has been playing defense to beat back Congressional proposals to force broadcast radio stations to pay record labels and performance artists royalties every time the stations play their songs.
The NABs lobbying spending during the first quarter was basically flat compared to the same time period last year, with the association doling out $2.6 million in lobbying spending, according to Senate records.
One industry source said Rehrs take-no-prisoners approach, particularly on the long-simmering battle with the recording industry over performance royalties, did not sit well with the massive groups members.
Rehr reportedly said he would rather slit his own throat than negotiate with the recording industry over the issue.
Its clear at this point that Davids absolutist approach against negotiating with the recording industry had the effect of slitting his own throat, said one industry source familiar with the situation.
Under current law, record labels and recording artists do not receive royalties when over-the-air radio stations broadcast their songs. Internet and satellite radio stations do pay royalties.
The Democratic Congress is working on a bill that is set to be marked up next week that would give performance royalties to artists and labels.
The announcement comes less than three weeks after Rehr delivered the opening remarks at the annual NAB convention.
At the time, Rehr acknowledged that the industry was facing tumultuous times but gave no indication that he wouldnt be at the helm of the organization.
Rehr, who previously headed the National Beer Wholesalers Association, had earned a reputation for being close with the GOP and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). That led some K Street Democrats to grumble when he got hired and led to much speculation about the length of his tenure after the 2008 elections.
Theres certainly a time where people say, Look, I see the writing on the wall, one headhunter said of Rehrs decision to leave.
In 2007, the last year for which such figures are available, Rehrs salary was $758,750, according to the NABs publicly available tax return. That same year, membership dues accounted for about $10 million, with about $40 million in other revenue earned as well.
Rehr made several staffing changes to the NABs in-house lobbying lineup, bringing on Laurie Knight from the NBWA about two weeks after he joined the NAB. Knight, a former legislative aide to then-Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas), is the NABs executive vice president of government relations and the groups top Democrat.
It is unclear what additional changes might be on the horizon.
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