When Red Means Green

Posted July 12, 2005 at 5:52pm

Among the small clutch of consultants, lawyers and public relations experts lucky enough to get hired to work on either side of the bidding war for oil company Unocal, there is an even more elite group: those who have ties to both sides of the deal.

In a recent column, Robert Novak detailed how Akin Gump ended its relationship with Chevron, one Unocal suitor, when it determined that work for the American company promised to clash with the firm’s advocacy on behalf of CNOOC, the Chinese company that’s also bidding for Unocal. [IMGCAP(1)]

Now, the law and lobbying firm McDermott Will and Emery, hired to represent Chevron on antitrust issues related to their bid, has landed a deal to work for China’s Ministry of Commerce.

There appears to be no conflict, however, since McDermott Will and Emery’s work for the Chinese government — a 70 percent owner of CNOOC — is on a potential trade dispute involving textiles.

“The matters are entirely unrelated and there is no adversity between our clients,” said Michael House, a partner in the firm’s international trade practice group. House declined further comment.

Lobbyist E-training. The Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives held a briefing Tuesday to walk lobbyists through the process of electronically filing lobbying disclosure forms — a practice that will become mandatory by Dec. 1.

The presenters demonstrated the e-filing software by filling out sample L-1 and L-2 forms on TV monitors. They also addressed concerns about the new filing system during a half-hour presentation before roughly 50 attendees in the Longworth House Office Building.

The presenters assured the audience that the new system would be secure and would help users save time, but they admitted that they were still unable to make e-filings in the House compatible with those in the Senate.

In an interview, Allison Otto, who works as a lobbyist for the Alliance of Children and Families, deemed the presentation helpful. “There are some things about the process I might not have known,” she said.

She added that the presentation left her without any concerns about the security of the new electronic system.

Brian Williams, a lobbyist for Lockridge Grindal Nauen, said that he thought the new system would make the process easier but was unsettled that the House and Senate lobbying disclosure forms would be incompatible under the electronic system.

“It would certainly be easier if they would pursue that, as they indicated they would,” he said.

Foreign Agent Files. Cote D’Ivoire, the war-torn West African country, appears to be getting serious about getting help from Washington.

First, the nation’s government shelled out $1 million to hire lobbying powerhouse Quinn Gillespie and Associates earlier this year. Then it brought on public relations whiz Peter Mirijanian for $5,000 a month.

Now, the country is adding some conservative heft to its team by inking a deal with Kemp Partners, the firm headed by former Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) and his son, James.

Firm principals declined to comment on their work for the country, which has been riven by civil war since 2002, after a failed attempt to oust its president. But documents filed with the Justice Department’s Foreign Registration Unit show that the Kemp firm will earn $450,000 for six months.

Like Quinn Gillespie, which required the country to pay its bill upfront, Kemp’s arrangement asks for $250,000 before the contract term begins. The firm will assist the country in its relationship with Congress and the executive branch, according to the documents.

The contract states that Kemp’s work for the nation is contingent on the government abiding by the terms of the Pretoria Agreement, a peace accord that calls for free and fair elections, among other things.

All About Homeland. The Allbaugh Co., the consulting firm run by Bush insider and former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh, has landed three new clients recently and has plans to expand its D.C. office.

Allbaugh, who runs his firm along with his wife, M. Diane Allbaugh, has signed up global defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp., a water filtration company called UltraStrip Systems Inc. and the Shaw Group, a Louisiana engineering and construction firm.

“We just have a variety of issues worldwide that we need to address, including our own homeland security, particularly with the events in London and then you have all these [tropical] storms,” Allbaugh said.

For Northrop, Allbaugh said, “I’m focused on a couple of programs that will, because of my experience with FEMA and my background in Texas, help better protect ourselves, our country and our citizens.” Allbaugh said that some of the projects he is involved in cannot be discussed publicly.

The UltraStrip client makes, among other products, a mobile water filtration system that removes toxins and heavy metals from drinking water.

According to the Allbaugh Co.’s lobbying registration, the firm will help “educate the Congressional and Executive branch … on various homeland security issues.”

Allbaugh said in an interview that the filtration system would help communities deal with natural and terrorism disasters. “I saw an opportunity to help communities and states,” he said.

Meanwhile, Allbaugh says, he plans to expand his firm’s personnel. But at the moment, that, too, is top secret. “They haven’t signed the dotted line,” Allbaugh said of his likely new colleagues.

Flack-Turned-Scribe. Who said a professional flack can’t dish out some original writing on the side?

Hank Cox, a vice president of media relations at the National Association of Manufacturers, is publishing his first book, “Lincoln and the Sioux Uprising of 1862.”

The non-fiction paperback by Cumberland Press details how the nation’s 16th president — despite a raging Civil War and personal grief over the death of his son — intervenes on behalf of 303 members of the Sioux Indian tribe who had been sentenced to death for massacring settlers in Minnesota — the majority wrongfully so, according to Lincoln.

“My point is to tell the weight of [Lincoln’s] personal and political troubles and how through it all he refused to pass the buck or be stampeded into hanging 303 Sioux,” Cox said.

The self-described history buff finished his 224-page book in 2004 in a hand-cramping eight months. The book is scheduled to hit stores in mid-July. As of Tuesday, the book ranked 540,937 on Amazon.com.

“Not a great tome,” Cox said. “Just a story I stumbled across that floored me.”

Lobby Aid. You might think that with stars like Bono and Sting on hand there wouldn’t be a need for an inside-the-Beltway lobbyist. But Diane Blagman, who works at Greenberg Traurig and represents such clients as the Grammy Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, worked to get Congressional attention for Live 8, a worldwide series of concerts held July 2 in conjunction with the G-8 Summit. She also traveled to London before the concert as a volunteer to help produce the Hyde Park event.

“I felt like I was in the eye of the hurricane,” said Blagman, who worked to gin up Capitol Hill support for the first Live Aid concert two decades ago.

This time, she said, “I worked on VIP areas and helped with the performers — anything that needed to be done.” Her firm handled the concert’s contracts for a reduced fee.

Other performers, whose mission was to double aid and cancel debt for struggling African nations, included Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and The Who. Originally, the Live 8 organizers had wanted Blagman to help them find a National Mall location for the U.S. concert, but the group went with Philadelphia.

K Street Moves. Susan Nelson, a former finance director of the Republican Governors Association, has joined the Loeffler Group. In the 1990s, Nelson served as finance services director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Luke Mullins and Matt Murray contributed to this report.