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K Street Files: Retail Politics — Durbin Looks to Refill Coffers

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call
Sen. Dick Durbin, speaking with reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill, is planning to be outside the dome Thursday morning to attend a fundraiser hosted by the retail industry for his leadership PAC. Stores such as Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. Inc. backed a Durbin amendment to the financial services reform bill earlier this year that lets the Federal Reserve cap credit card interchange fees.

After nearly a decade of controversy, a Texas charity run by former Rep. Tom DeLay is shutting down. Federal tax filings show that the onetime House GOP Leader’s DeLay Foundation for Kids is “in the process of winding down its affairs.”

“Assets will be distributed to 501(C)3,” DeLay’s group wrote in Internal Revenue Service documents filed this summer. The organization’s phone number on Tuesday was inoperable.

DeLay’s 24-year-old nonprofit organization has been a persistent source of scrutiny since 2003, when Roll Call and other news outlets reported that the former Texas Republican was raising significant amounts of tax-deductible contributions from well-heeled corporate and K Street donors, who wanted to cozy up to DeLay. In 2005, the New York Times reported that the group’s donors included AT&T Corp., Corrections Corporation of America and Exxon Mobil Corp., among others.

In a 2003 fundraising invitation for the charity, DeLay and his wife, Christine, said the event’s venue is “a wonderful tropical paradise, with the feel of Fantasy Island,” Roll Call reported at the time.

“The Ocean Reef Club is an excellent spot for a fun-filled family vacation and we are delighted that you are considering this destination not only for your family, but also to help the DeLay Foundation for Kids,” the DeLay charity’s website read, according to a Roll Call report.

This week, DeLay continues to face charges in an Austin courtroom over allegations that he illegally used corporate campaign contributions for political purposes. DeLay is fighting the charges, which include “using his political action committee to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate funds into Texas legislative races in 2002,” according to the Associated Press.

A More Perfect Union?

Starting Jan. 1, the marriage between Cassidy & Associates and the Rhoads Group will be complete, and Rhoads is taking the Cassidy name.

The Rhoads Group has long been a subsidiary of Cassidy, but it has maintained its separate brand. Gerald S.J. Cassidy will remain executive chairman of the firm he founded more than 30 years ago, while Rhoads Group’s Barry Rhoads will become president of Cassidy & Associates. Gregg Hartley, a former top aide to Sen.-elect Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), will continue as Cassidy & Associates’ vice chairman and chief operating officer, while former Rep. Marty Russo (D-Ill.) will still be the shop’s senior vice chairman and chief executive officer.

Rhoads has been with the Cassidy operation since 1997. Merging his shop into the larger company will give him and his Rhoads Group colleagues a bigger platform, Rhoads said. “I bring a lot of enthusiasm and a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude,” he said.

And he’s also bringing revenue. Rhoads Group “added $1 million worth of new business this year,” he said.

No one from the Rhoads Group will be out of a job, he added. “We’ll actually be looking to expand,” he said.

K Street Moves

• Who says Democrats aren’t in demand downtown? Alaina Beverly, who was the associate director of the Obama White House’s Office of Urban Affairs, has joined the Raben Group. Beverly, who began her career with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, will be a principal at the firm.

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