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K Street Files: Aristotle Launches a PAC; Judd Gregg Stays Put

The former six-term Member said one-time Warsaw Pact adversaries were most interested in discussing the pending Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that awaits ratification by Members during the lame-duck session.

“There’s an amazing array of interests that want to figure what’s going on in the new Congress,” Weber told Roll Call in a recent interview. “The things we’re talking about over there are not necessarily the things we’re talking about here.”

Weber has also spoken recently with Ernst & Young corporate directors in New York about the possible ramifications of the elections. And he was scheduled to address a roomful of foreign diplomats about the effects of the Republican midterm victories.

Weber said the tea party movement has been the primary reason that his election-season dance card is much more full than in years past.

“The tea party phenomenon is fascinating to people who are not part of [politics] both in our country and abroad. ... There’s a lot more interest in what’s actually happening in our political system right now,” Weber said. “What I’ve told people who are concerned about this is that the Republicans are bringing in a very experienced team.”

Loco Del Coco

With the Food and Drug Administration recently forcing a change to its controversial recipe, Phusion Projects’ nascent Capital Hill campaign faces an uncertain future just four months after the company hired its first lobbyist.

On Nov. 16, the Chicago-based brewer bowed to pressure from regulators and announced it was removing stimulants from Four Loko, its popular combination of malt liquor and caffeine that achieved a cult-like status on college campuses nationwide before being blamed in numerous hospitalizations and deaths.

In August, Senate records show the company hired the Smith-Free Group to lobby on “issues related to beverage marketing.” By mid-October, lobbying records show the firm had quickly turned to addressing FDA concerns about the possibly lethal concoction that had led state officials to ban it outright in New York and elsewhere. During the third quarter of this year, the company disclosed spending $50,000 overall on federal lobbying.

On Tuesday, a company official declined to say how it will approach Capitol Hill in the coming months.

“It’s our policy not to discuss our strategies publicly or any external consultants who may or may not be helping us, including lawyers, lobbyists, and PR consultants,” a company spokesman wrote in an e-mail. “As we stated on November 16, we have stopped the production and shipment of all our products containing these ingredients. We will continue to work closely and cooperatively with national and state regulators.”

K Street Moves

• Darden Restaurants has ordered up a new lobbyist: T.J. Birkel has joined the company as manager of federal government relations based in Washington, D.C. In the newly created position, Birkel will manage Darden’s efforts to build and maintain relationships with Members of Congress, Congressional staff and executive branch personnel.

The former legislative assistant and speechwriter to Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) reports to Chip Kunde, Darden’s vice president of government relations.

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