lobbying

How to dine like a boss on a tight budget in D.C.
Hill reception circuit offers a lifeline for cash-strapped interns

People grab food provided at the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Week Reception on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Receptions are the lifeblood of the broke Capitol Hill intern’s diet. Besides being a great place for meeting people (ABN: always be networking) they provide a bounty of free food and drinks, and usually the spreads are halfway decent. I once went a whole week without paying a dime for dinner. And honestly, with enough dedication, I could have stretched that to a month.

Besides not wearing your intern badge on your lapel, the earliest lesson you learn working on the Hill is that almost every industry has an association in D.C. to represent it. Whether it’s cement, hydrogen energy or guns, if somebody has an interest before Congress, you can bet it has a lobby organized to influence lawmakers.

Before Trump meeting, Hungary hired a powerhouse K Street firm
Greenberg Traurig signed on to represent the Embassy of Hungary for $100,000 for six months of work

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 13, 2019. The authoritarian prime minister’s government recently hired lobbying and law firm Greenberg Traurig to represent the Embassy of Hungry. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The government of Hungary hired a powerhouse K Street firm just before the country’s controversial and authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, had a meeting last week with President Donald Trump in the White House.

Lobbying and law firm Greenberg Traurig signed on to represent the Embassy of Hungary for $100,000 for six months of work, new Justice Department documents show. The disclosures included a contract for work dated April 26, just on the cusp of the meeting that took place May 13.

IRS should investigate the National Rifle Association for self-dealing, congressman says
Schneider: the NRA may have abused its status as a nonprofit

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, faces new scrutiny for his close relationship with public relations company Ackerman McQueen. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Internal Revenue Service should consider revoking the National Rifle Association’s status as a nonprofit organization in light a recent report that the group has enriched its executives at the expense of its 5 million members, a Democratic congressman said Thursday.

Rep. Brad Schneider addressed a letter to the commissioner of the IRS asking the agency to interrogate whether the NRA has misappropriated member dues into the pockets of a small group of executives in a series of sweetheart deals.

Koch brothers, no fans of Trump, boost lobbying spending
Firm was eighth-highest spender on lobbying during first quarter

David Koch, center, listens to speakers during the Defending the American Dream Summit in Washington in 2011. Koch Cos. Public Sector boosted its lobbying expenditures during the first quarter of 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

The famously conservative Koch brothers, Charles and David, were among those libertarian-minded conservatives who sat out the 2016 presidential election out of distaste for Donald Trump.

They’ve since bristled at his policies on trade and immigration, as they prefer freer trade and looser borders.

Fintech lobby spending targets cryptocurrency taxation
Firms lobbying on fintech spent more than $42 million in first quarter

More than half of the 80 firms that reported lobbying on fintech in the first quarter of 2019 listed blockchain and cryptocurrencies among their biggest concerns. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

Lobbying disclosures for the first quarter of 2019 show a wide swath of industries and advocacy groups focusing on financial technology issues, including the Association of National Advertisers, Intuit, Mastercard, Alibaba, FreedomWorks, IBM, the Entertainment Software Association and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

More than half of the 80 firms that reported lobbying on fintech in the first quarter listed blockchain and cryptocurrencies, including tax elements of the latter, among their biggest concerns. Combined, more than 80 firms lobbying on fintech reported spending more than $42 million in the first quarter of 2019.

‘No corporate PAC’ pledges aren’t always so pure
Contributions sometimes go through other lawmakers or party committees

Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Malinowski, says he is proud he doesn’t take direct contributions from corporate PACs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corporate PAC money is yucky, but if it comes via contributions from other lawmakers or party committees, the taste seems to suddenly improve.

That’s the message from many incumbents in the club of 50-something Democratic lawmakers who refuse corporate political action committee dollars but still accept donations from colleagues and party committees that take the derided funds.

Trump administration swayed by conservative think tank on abortion, LGBT decisions, group says
Ties between administration and The Heritage Foundation correlate with several health policy decisions, liberal watchdog group says

HHS Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino speaks at a news conference at the Department of Health and Human Services on January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Severino, a former director of The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, joined HHS as the director of OCR in late March 2017. Close ties between the administration foundation correlate with several Trump administration health policy decisions, a liberal think tank says. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Close ties between the administration and a prominent conservative think tank correlate with several Trump administration health policy decisions, according to new information from a liberal government watchdog group shared exclusively with CQ Roll Call.

The 35-page Equity Forward report says that The Heritage Foundation’s influence plays a large role in decisions related to abortion, fetal tissue research, contraception and protections for same-sex couples.

Echoes of Big Tobacco fight in Big Pharma hearings
Drug companies have leveraged high-profile hearings on rising drug prices into an opportunity

From right, Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals head Jennifer Taubert, Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, and AbbVie CEO Richard A. Gonzalez prepare to face a Feb. 26 Senate Finance hearing on rising drug prices. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress has made curtailing high drug prices a priority this year and has hauled in some of Big Pharma’s top executives to prove it.

Committee hearings on drug prices — the House and Senate have held a half dozen this year — have sought accountability from the industry for drug prices that have forced patients into agonizing decisions about how to budget their lives and caused one-in-four diabetics to ration insulin.

First quarter drug lobbying outpaces other health care sectors
Big spending comes amid bipartisan support for legislation to lower drug prices

Health care trade groups and businesses increased their lobbying efforts during the first quarter of 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several health care trade groups and businesses upped their lobbying expenditures in the opening stretch of 2019, with the pharmaceutical industry reporting the highest expenditures as lawmakers focus on rising drug prices.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents the pharmacy benefit managers that have emerged as a bogeyman in the drug pricing debate, more than doubled its lobbying expenditures in the first quarter of the year compared to the equivalent period in 2018. So far this year, the group has spent $1.49 million on lobbying, compared to last year’s first quarter sum of $741,557.

Trade, infrastructure, health care issues dominate K Street
Uncertainties in Washington haven’t dampened hopes for legislative deal-making

K Street spending in the first quarter of 2019 shows business interests are still looking for openings to help broker big-scope legislative deals before presidential politics takes hold by 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, an elusive infrastructure package and debate over prescription drug prices dominated the lobbying agendas of some of the biggest spenders on K Street early this year, setting the legislative stage for the rest of 2019.

The tumult of the Trump administration and the uncertainty of divided party control on Capitol Hill have kept business interests on the defense while also looking for openings to help broker big-scope legislative deals before presidential politics takes hold by 2020.