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On a Mission: Lobbying Power to the People

Call it the K Street purge.

Whether its teaching low-income children or crusading against the influence industrys evils, Washington is filled with former K Streeters on a mission to make up for time spent doing the bidding of major corporations.

For Christopher C. Hull, who spent more than a decade orchestrating grass-roots issue campaigns for Hill & Knowltons corporate clients, that atonement is a new public interest advocacy venture called BlastRoots Inc. (Note: He was never, ever a registered lobbyist.)

I saw special interests playing chess against special interests, Hull said. It was just wrong. I felt that it was important to give the public access to at least some of the information that I had as someone who helped wire the system for the special interest. ... I helped do this. I helped create the system.

BlastRoots, which launched in September, is the latest in a new breed of advocacy firms from the well-known petition website Change.org to the under-the-radar RAP Index that have tried to capitalize on social media to rewrite the rules of lobbying.

The platform offers two tiers of service. Anyone can start a petition for no charge and, in one click, recruit followers via email, Facebook and Twitter. For a fee, customers can go pro with more exclusive services.

Hull would not elaborate on how the company would supplement those rates but said the strategy would hinge on data about users political interests.

We wont resell that information, he said. But theres no question that stuff is valuable.

On the Hunt for Lobbyists

Attention, soon-to-be-former members and staff: Theres a new K Street headhunter in town.

Joanna Martin from the White House Office of Presidential Personnel has joined the executive search firm Korn/Ferry International to serve as a point person for filling the slots of top K Street executives. Her clients will include trade associations and corporations who are looking to hire lobbyists.

At the White House, Martin recruited and recommended candidates for senior positions in the Obama administration. Her former boss, President Barack Obama, imposed tough restrictions on White House aides decamping for K Street, but she wont be lobbying.

Martin likely will start her job with a flurry of rsums in her inbox, especially because the elections sent numerous members packing and the job market theyll encounter promises to be competitive.

Were thrilled to have Joanna join our growing team, Nels Olson, Korn/Ferrys vice chairman and co-leader of board and CEO services, said in a statement. Shes a consummate professional and a highly skilled executive search specialist who is already a star in our business.

Martin who will focus on energy, financial services, health care, insurance and technology replaces Blair Bennett, a former client partner at Korn/Ferry, who joined Wal-Mart Stores Inc. earlier this year as director of executive recruiting.

Before joining the White House, Martin served as a regional finance director on Obamas 2008 presidential campaign.

Oracles New Alliance

The Business Software Alliance, a trade association for software-makers, has wooed a new global advocacy member in the Oracle Corp.

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