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K Street Files: Union Members Head to the Hill; New Firm to Help Clients Find Lobbyists

The Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO and other labor groups dispatched more than 100 members and organizers to Capitol Hill Wednesday as part of a national lobby day.

The unions’ message to members and staff is to protect middle-class tax cuts in any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. Union organizers also are voicing concerns about spending cuts, especially to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“I’m here today because I want to tell my Members of Congress that I believe the wealthy should pay their fair share in taxes and that we can’t cut our way to prosperity,” said Mitch Azarcon, a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota in a statement distributed to the press.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the National Education Association were also scheduled to take part.

“I think the deficit is important, but why are we not talking about jobs?” asked Lewis Edward Dishmon, a SEIU/Workers United member from North Carolina and a registered Republican, according to the statement. “Members of Congress need to put jobs first if we are going to get our economy moving again.”

Wise to the Lobbyists

Lobbyist Justin LeBlanc, a one-time aide to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has launched LobbyWise, a firm he says is designed to help clients select K Street consulting firms.

“LobbyWise seeks nothing less than a complete paradigm shift in the way organizations find and hire lobbyists,” LeBlanc wrote in an email. “Whether small towns or large cities, non-profits or private companies, LobbyWise offers a more robust, transparent, and independent process.”

LobbyWise, he noted, works for prospective lobbying clients such as corporations and trade associations and will not take money from the contract firms it helps link up with the clients.

In addition to his tenure on the Hill, LeBlanc served as vice president of government relations at the National Fisheries Institute and worked at the Petrizzo Strategic Group before launching his own firm.

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