A Little Bit Republican?

Posted February 6, 2004 at 5:38pm

During his three terms in the chamber, deal-making Democratic Sen. John Breaux (La.) has become one of the most popular Senators in the GOP Conference by continually crossing the aisle to lend bipartisan backing to Republican policies.

But that doesn’t make him a Republican. [IMGCAP(1)]

As a result, a group of senior Republican power brokers has quietly launched an effort to prevent Breaux from landing a million-dollar job as head of the Motion Picture Association of America.

In the past week, Republican lobbyists have begun whispering that Breaux “would not be a good fit” as Hollywood’s representative in Washington because Democrats don’t have the high ground on decency standards and movie content.

“Nothing against Breaux. If they want to pick a Democrat, it should be him,” said one Republican lobbyist involved in the effort. “But we want it to be one of our own.”

According to those involved in the effort, the Republicans’ plan is to attack Breaux while promoting the candidacy of GOP alternatives, such as former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) and several other Republicans.

“It’s obvious that Breaux is going to be a strong candidate, so we need to find a candidate on our side,” said one GOP lobbyist.

Tops on the list is Thompson, an actor who expressed interest in the job as long ago as three years.

Other potential Republican candidates include Vivendi Universal lobbyist Matt Gerson, House Rules Chairman David Dreier (Calif.), U.S. Trade Representative Bob Zoellick and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

The whole effort may very well be a waste of time: Word on the street is that Breaux is not really interested in the MPAA job.

A Swap at the Top of ICI? The embattled mutual fund industry may try to accelerate its search for a new chief to replace longtime President Matt Fink.

Fink had planned to retire from the Investment Company Institute at the end of the year, but insiders say the industry is eager to install a new head as early as this summer’s board meeting.

Others say the top slot could be filled on a temporary basis by Julie Domenick, the trade association’s top Democratic lobbyist who found herself in the middle of a controversy last year when an aide to House Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) allegedly tried to get her fired.

Insiders speculate that Republican leaders would not squawk if Domenick became interim president because her time in the job would have an expiration date.

New MedMal Coalition. A group of 220,000 neuroscientists, dermatologists and other medical specialists will launch a new public relations coalition Tuesday to press Congress to enact legislation limiting medical malpractice lawsuits.

At a press conference in Washington today, the newly created Doctors for Medical Liability Reform will unveil a set of powerful advertisements that they plan on running in selected states in the next few months as the Senate considers taking up the legislation.

The lobbying effort is being assisted by Steve Hart, a lobbyist with Williams & Jensen.

Kemp Pencils in New Client. Former Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) and his Washington lobbying firm have registered to lobby for accounting giant BearingPoint, according to disclosure forms filed on PoliticalMoney Line.com.

The Kemp Group — which is run by 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp, son James, and former aide James “J.T.” Taylor — also represents high-tech security firms NetForensics and Cryptek.

Pfizer Works Asbestos Issue. Drug-maker Pfizer hired Arnold & Porter last month to lobby for the company on asbestos reform legislation.