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K Street Files: Lobbying Help Wanted at Toyota

All those soon-to-be out-of-work Democratic lawmakers may want to rethink their criticism of Toyota Motor Corp., which took a beating this year on Capitol Hill during hearings into automobile defects.

That’s because the Japanese auto manufacturer may be looking to fill an opening for its chief lobbyist. The spot has been vacant since Oct. 1, when Josephine Cooper left to start her own firm. Cooper, who had been with the company for seven years, helped her bosses navigate the Congressional grillings.

The company has been coy about what it intends to do with Cooper’s old job, which was group vice president for public policy and government/industry affairs.

Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss would not say what the deadline was for filling the position or if a search firm had been hired. But she said the government affairs operations were not being ignored.

“There are plenty of people still in place,” she said.

Dian Ogilvie, senior vice president for Toyota North America, is overseeing the Washington office on an interim basis, according to a Toyota news release. In the first three quarters of this year, Toyota spent $3.6 million on federal lobbying.

The Ways to a Means

The new firm of a former top staffer for incoming Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) reeled in its first clients last week, a little more than a month after opening its doors Oct. 1.

According to Senate lobbying records, the upstart Blue Stone Strategies signed up America’s Health Insurance Plans and CareCore National on Monday. The new firm is run by Behrends Foster, a former AHIP lobbyist and Camp staffer, and Chris Long, a one-time aide to former Rep. Buddy Darden (D-Ga.) and a former lobbyist at Associated General Contractors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Bockorny Group.

In an interview, Foster said the timing of his new venture was “incidental” to the recent election results, which are expected to put his old boss in charge of one of Congress’ toniest committees. Still, Foster said he’s looking to expand his young firm quickly and bring on more tax and trade work.

“When I started discussing this with folks, there were only 178 Republicans in the House. It’s not that I saw, six, seven, eight months ago that I saw there was going to be a 60- to 65-seat swing,” Foster told K Street Files last week. “I’d like to say I foresaw this, but I didn’t really.”

Paying the Bills

Just when you thought it was safe to put your checkbook away, debt-retirement season has arrived again. On Thursday, National Republican Congressional Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) and likely Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) are hosting an event for Rep.-elect Francisco “Quico” Canseco, who beat six-term Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) on Nov. 2.

The Texas Republican’s victory left his campaign more than $1.1 million in the hole, Federal Election Commission records show, and the new House GOP leadership is already busy helping him and others in the coming weeks pass the cup to help pay down their debt. The $1,000-per-person event benefiting Canseco’s campaign will be held at the Capitol Hill Club.

Midterm Influence

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