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K Street Files: Lobbying Help Wanted at Toyota

Chamber Watch, a union-backed, nonprofit organization released an analysis Friday of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s political spending on the 2010 midterm elections.

Chamber Watch is a new group funded by Change to Win, a labor federation that counts Service Employees International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters among its members.

In its findings, the organization said the chamber “played a central strategic role in a coordinated effort to elect Republicans in this fall’s elections.” It is not surprising considering that the business community for the most part opposed measures in the 111th Congress such as the cap-and-trade and health care bills.

A surprising aspect of the group’s study is how much money the chamber spent — relative to its overall $75 million political budget, of course — on Democratic incumbents who were serious underdogs going into Election Day: Reps. Bobby Bright (Ala.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Travis Childers (Miss.) and Glenn Nye (Va.). The chamber spent nearly $2 million helping House Democratic incumbents ahead of Nov. 2, including almost $440,000 on Kratovil, $390,000 on Marshall and about $80,000 on Nye.

“While the U.S. Chamber played for keeps when it came to attacking Democratic incumbents on behalf of Republican candidates, when it came to supporting Democrats, the Chamber appears to have acted more for appearances than out of any real support for the candidates,” the Chamber Watch report said. “In general, where the Chamber supported a Democrat, it ran ads in favor of that candidate (as opposed to attack ads on the candidate’s opponent which often have far greater impact).”

Chamber spokesman J.P. Fielder said his group didn’t determine its support from party labels. “We have an accurate yardstick to measure where candidates stand on pro-growth policies, and it’s our How They Voted Scorecard,” he said.

K Street Moves

DentaQuest, a dental benefits provider, has brought on Claudine Swartz as its vice president of government relations. In her newly created position, Swartz will oversee state and federal governmental affairs. She joined DentaQuest after serving as assistant vice president for policy at the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. Swartz had also worked at the University of California Health System.

“Claudine brings terrific experience in health policy,” DentaQuest President and CEO Fay Donohue said in a statement. “I am confident that her work will support our mission to improve oral health.”

• Dave Natonski has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s communications team as a senior manager of media relations. Natonski spent the past two years as communications director for Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). Previously, he was press secretary and legislative assistant to then-Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.).

Please send tips to kstreet@rollcall.com. Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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