Foreign Agent Files

Posted February 11, 2005 at 5:37pm

The Livingston Group, whose biggest client is the government of Turkey, has signed on a nearby country.

The lobbying firm founded by former Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.) has added Azerbaijan to its client roster, according to Foreign Agent Registration Act disclosure forms. Azerbaijan has agreed to pay $300,000 a year, a modest sum compared to the roughly $2.8 million paid by Turkey. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Livingston Group plans to assess the U.S. political scene for Azerbaijan, which has a longstanding conflict with another neighbor, Armenia, but is on good terms with Turkey.

“They have some common interests with Turkey,” said Livingston, “but also many issues unique to their own country. We intend to bring the ambassador around and discuss circumstances and positions of the country vis-à-vis U.S. positions.”

The contract says that in addition to lobbying, the Livingston Group will identify “specific American or other companies as potential investors” in the Azeri market.

Also … BKSH & Associates has taken on the cause of the Dominican Republic for $25,000 a month. The country, which elected Leonel Fernandez as its president last year, wants BKSH to monitor legislation and provide strategic advice to the new government, particularly on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which the Dominican Republic joined last year.

“It’s anything that’s of concern to them,” said BKSH Vice Chairman M.B. Oglesby Jr. The firm’s Riva Levinson, Lisa Cotter Colangelo and Charles Black are also on the account.

Freshman Fiesta. Washington lobbyists are always eager to cultivate and schmooze with newly elected Members of Congress, so the American League of Lobbyists figured there was no reason to play it coy.

The group hosted a “Meet the Freshman” breakfast, part of a bipartisan series, on Feb. 9. The event attracted almost 100 lobbyists and fresh GOP faces, including Reps. Cathy McMorris (Wash.), Virginia Foxx (N.C.), Thelma Drake (Va.) and Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.).

The event, held on the third floor of the American Trucking Associations’ office on Capitol Hill, gave lobbyists a

chance to pass out business cards and munch on mini-quiche.

“This was a great turnout,” said ALL President Paul Miller, who is director of government affairs for the Independent Office Products and Furniture Dealers Association. “It’s great not only for us to meet the new Members but for them to meet us and understand how we can be a resource for them.”

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who arrived late, joked to the crowd, “I’m still trying to figure out how to work in three breakfasts on the same day.”

Other Members in attendance included Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Ted Poe (R-Texas). Poe, a former judge, introduced himself as someone “who put people in the penitentiary who needed to go there.”

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), who served in Congress from 1979 to 1988 and is a former attorney general of California, called himself “a recovering politician” who evidently fell off the wagon. “It’s like déjà vu all over again,” he said.

Smaller than a Breadbox. Lobbyists at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds are celebrating the kickoff of the Congressional Nano Caucus, a group of lawmakers interested in promoting research and development of the tiny, cutting-edge science of nanotechnology.

Preston Gates lobbyist Paul Stimers is assembling the group on behalf of the NanoBusiness Alliance, a collection of industry innovators that want to keep federal dollars flowing for research and development.

Last week Stimers tried to jump-start caucus membership by choreographing a flurry of meetings between industry leaders and potentially interested Members of Congress. Those who got an earful included Sens. George Allen (R-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Reps. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), John Dingell (D-Mich.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.).

Products using nanotechnology are measured in nanometers — which are a billionth of a meter, or 10 hydrogen atoms across, or one-ten-thousandth the width of a human hair.

The tiny stuff packs pie-in-the-sky potential (as well as risk, according to some critics, who say that unsecured nano-items could lodge in unwelcome places such as the lungs).

With nano-driven solar panels — one molecule thick — blimps will be able to monitor American borders without needing to land for months, Stimers said. The technology should soon yield a coating for boats — effectively a web of miniscule wires that will repel water, so the hull never gets wet, thus reducing drag, rust and wear. And nanotechnology could be combined with soldiers’ suits, making them resistant to biological and chemical weapons “while being 20 times more agreeable than Gortex,” Stimers said.

The caucus, he said, will give the industry a “ready-made base for future efforts” at securing funding.

Peachy New Office. The state of Georgia is joining the clutch of states that watch the federal process up close by opening a Washington office.

Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue tapped Greenberg Traurig lobbyist Padgett Wilson to head the office as the state’s new federal affairs director. He will be the governor’s eyes, ears and mouth in the nation’s capital as he looks for extra federal money for the state, reports on key legislation and conveys the governor’s positions to the National Governors Association.

Safe Landing. Todd Webster, most recently communications director to then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), is opening his own communications firm.

Webster Strategies already has a Web site and a client — Democracy Radio, a progressive radio network.

Webster, who also worked for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), said he hopes to sign up more Democratic clients and expects to be doing a fair amount of transportation work as well. “The way I hope to do it is have enough political work to keep my adrenaline pumping and enough issue work to keep my doors open,” he said.

K Street Moves. Democratic Leadership Council Vice President of Federal Affairs Bill Andresen is returning to the Dutko Group, where he will be senior vice president. … Amy Flachbart, most recently chief of staff to then-Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.), is joining Preston Gates. … The law firms Pillsbury Winthrop LLP and Shaw Pittman LLP are planning to merge, forming Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.