Admission Ticket

Posted March 20, 2007 at 6:41pm

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) has a message for lobbyists hoping to score a meeting with him in his Russell Building office: Better bring your clients. [IMGCAP(1)]

The newly minted Senator, whose win tipped control of the chamber to the Democrats, has made it a policy to refuse meetings with lobbyists if they are not accompanying the people they represent. “He has decided when personally taking meetings he wants to hear from constituents or others who have interests with the government, rather than from lobbyists negotiating on their behalf,” Webb spokeswoman Jessica Smith said.

It’s nothing personal: Lobbyists are still free to meet with Webb aides one-on-one, and the Senator expects to run into them in hallways and at fundraisers and other events around town, Smith said.

Presumably, K Streeters also should feel free to continue writing checks. Lawyers and lobbyists were the second biggest category of donors to his 2006 run, handing over $521,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Smith said the rule is a response to voter concerns Webb heard on the campaign trail.

“Virginians want the opportunity to have access to their Senator and voice their concerns directly, and that’s the kind of leadership he wants to practice,” she said.

Reform, Euro-style. As House Democratic leaders appear stalled over how to advance their overhaul of lobbying laws, their counterparts across the pond are rolling out a reform package of their own.

The European Union is set today to introduce new guidelines meant to boost transparency for the continent’s burgeoning lobbying industry.

But good-government types here should keep their reform envy in check: It appears Brussels is more than a decade behind even the current rules on Capitol Hill when it comes to forcing disclosures from lobbyists.

The new rules will set up the EU’s first-ever registration standard for lobbyists. Registration, however, is voluntary, will take a year to set up, and then will be only in force for a trial year.

“That’s the way things go in Europe — very slowly,” said Erik Wesselius, of ALTER-EU, a coalition of reform advocates.

Wesselius said the reform measures remain modest because the EU has yet to see a lobbying scandal on par with the one set off by Jack Abramoff. “It is one of the reasons why there is not enough political will at the moment,” he said.

Lobbyists who opt to comply with new rules have to sign a code of conduct and disclose what each of their clients is paying. But it is not clear how often, if at all, lobbyists need to update the filings.

The EU’s reform measure will be a moot point for Cassidy & Associates. After two years in business in Brussels, the firm’s representatives there are leaving to set up their own shop, called Alber & Geiger.

“This step gives us the opportunity to set up a fully lobbying-focused law firm — something common in Washington, D.C. but completely new in Brussels,” name partner Andreas Geiger said in a statement.

Bipartisan Duo. The Duberstein Group has lured a pair of high-profile lobbyists to its tony roster: Democrat Brian Griffin, an in-house lobbyist with Honeywell Inc., and Eric Ueland, the former chief of staff to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

Both will join The Duberstein Group, which was founded by Reagan White House chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein, in mid-April.

“We’re just delighted to have them both,” said the firm’s Michael Berman, a Democrat. “They are both just top-notch.”

Honoring Boggs. It’s sort of K Street meets the Oscars, and Democratic lobbyist Thomas Boggs Jr. of Patton Boggs is taking home the statue, um award, this year.

Boggs’ lobbying peers on Tuesday night presented him with the Bryce Harlow Foundation’s 2007 Business-Government Relations Award at the lobbying foundation’s annual dinner.

Boggs, in an interview before the dinner, joked that it was purely a matter of his “longevity” in the business that earned him the nod.

“Now there are more than 35,000 registered lobbyists,” said Boggs, who got his start in the 1960s. “When I started in this game there were less than 70.”

The Bryce Harlow Foundation also provides students who want to be future lobbyists with a scholarship program.

“There needs to be as much attention as can be paid to special programs aimed at encouraging young bright people to get into the field,” he said. “And that’s certainly what the Harlow foundation is about.”

K Street Moves. Chris Greico has joined General Mills as its Washington representative. He previously worked as a senior legislative assistant to former Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.).