Emergency Connection

Posted May 24, 2005 at 6:31pm

With lawmakers eyeing a major rewrite to telecommunications laws this Congress, it seems like a good time for Vonage, a company that provides telephone service over the Internet, to staff up in Washington, D.C. [IMGCAP(1)]

The New Jersey-based provider has tripled the size of its D.C. office by adding Stephen Seitz, formerly director of government affairs at the National Emergency Number Association, and Frank Cavaliere, deputy legislative director for Sen. George Allen (D-Va.).

Cavaliere’s title will be vice president of federal regulatory affairs and he will handle Internet telecom issues. “I’m excited about it, it’s a great opportunity,” he said.

Seitz “has really helped NENA propel its visibility,” said telecom lobbyist Greg Rohde, who runs e-Copernicus, a tech-centric consulting firm. Rohde has worked with Seitz through the e911 Institute, an advocacy group for which Rohde serves as executive director.

Rohde added that Seitz will help Vonage deal with the issues involved in providing 911 service to its customers. “They are lucky to have him,” he said.

When Congress took up telecom reforms in the mid-1990s, Seitz said, emergency number issues didn’t factor into the debate much. This time around, he said, “the 911 community needs more active influence. There needs to be an active voice.”

Seitz, whose title with Vonage will be vice president of 911 regulatory affairs, said that he will also handle other issues related to the telecom rewrite.

“I know in my future role I’m going to be advocating on 911-based issues from a different side,” he said. “The challenge is, there is no quick fix. There are a series of steps that need to happen. Part of my new job will be to make sure Vonage is meeting those steps.”

Vonage’s Washington office previously consisted of Chris Murray, a former lobbyist for Consumer’s Union. He serves as vice president of government affairs at Vonage.

Cash Client. The lobbying firm Navigators has signed Visa USA as a client. Lisa Nelson, formerly with Time Warner, recently took over Visa’s Washington, D.C., office and is currently in talks with other lobbying firms about adding them to the financial services company’s outside roster.

“One of the reasons the Navigators are so appealing is they not only have the federal abilities and capabilities, but they also cover Sacramento,” said Nelson, Visa’s senior VP and director of government relations.

Visa is a California-based company and has many legislative issues in Sacramento.

Navigators partners Cesar Conda and Phil Anderson will handle the account. Anderson also serves as executive director of the Financial Services Coordinating Council.

K Street Moves. Kathryn Anderson has joined the financial services company TIAA-CREF as director of federal relations. Anderson previously served as vice president of Congressional affairs at the U.S. Telecom Association.

“Kathy is a highly regarded lobbyist in the financial-services industry,” said Daniel Keniry, TIAA-CREF’s vice president of federal relations, in a statement. “Her experience, knowledge and ability to work in a bi-partisan fashion will be a great asset to the company.”

Before her stint with the telecom association, Anderson was a senior lobbyist for Mutual of Omaha and began her career at the law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs.