Radio Shack Unplugs, Tupperware Plugs In

Posted March 30, 2007 at 6:30pm

Electronics company Radio Shack has pulled the plug on its sole in-house federal lobbyist.

Arnold Grothues, who was Radio Shack’s vice president of industry and government affairs, has terminated his lobbying registration, and he says the company phased him out Friday as part of a larger drive to make Radio Shack more profitable. [IMGCAP(1)]

“Aside from compliance issues, government affairs just didn’t fit in with their efforts to make the company more profitable at this time,” Grothues said Thursday, his second-to-last day with Radio Shack. “The company has been cutting costs and [has] been having layoffs.”

Grothues said he didn’t know what Radio Shack’s plans were with its outside consultants. Jennifer Blum, counsel at Drinker Biddle & Reath, is the only currently registered lobbyist for Radio Shack. She declined comment other than to say she is a Radio Shack attorney. A Radio Shack spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

Last year, Radio Shack reported spending $380,000 on federal lobbying. The company’s political action committee gave out $23,400 in the 2006 election cycle, but perhaps that small investment wasn’t so well-placed: The company gave 84 percent to Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Open for Business. Republicans Michael Rubin and Don Meyer have hung out their shingle as of today, opening Rubin Meyer LLC.

Rubin, a former vice president for government relations at the U.S. Telecom Association, last week left his almost five-year gig as Qwest Communication’s vice president of federal affairs, while Meyer took his exit from Hill & Knowlton, where he was senior vice president and director of the corporate practice.

“Both of our backgrounds lean toward the Republican side,” said Meyer, an adviser to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. “But the nature of the work is nonpartisan.”

Rubin, a one-time legislative director for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and Meyer said they will have clients in the telecommunications, defense and media sectors. They will specialize in legislative strategy, coalition building and public relations as well as helping companies and associations polish their brands in Washington, D.C.

“Our goal is to have a fairly small number of clients that we service very hard, and we’re hoping this small, independent organization will allow us to do it,” Rubin said.

Tupperware’s Political Party. The Tupperware Brands Corp. has brought its party to Washington, D.C. The direct-selling company has retained a team of lobbyists from Arent Fox to head off unwanted federal regulations proposed by the Federal Trade Commission.

The Arent Fox lobbyists include Melissa Bailey, a one-time labor and employment counsel to the Senate Small Business Committee when it was chaired by Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), and Harry Katrichis, who was chief counsel to the House Small Business Committee from 1995 to 2001.

“It has to do with a recent FTC proposal to change the way that direct sales are conducted,” said Tupperware’s Josef Hajek, vice president of tax and government affairs. Those proposals would restrict how sellers of Tupperware, Avon and other companies can recruit people through their party systems.

Amy Robinson, a vice president with the Direct Selling Association, said her organization and companies like Tupperware are reaching out to Members on the issue by mobilizing the association’s members. “There are about 14.1 million direct sellers in the country, so that’s about 30,000 per Congressional district,” Robinson said.

The proposed FTC consumer protections would make sellers provide a packet about the company, including information on lawsuits, to potential recruits. “Those requirements we feel would stifle the ability of direct-selling companies to do business,” Robinson said.

Off the Hook. The all-GOP lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers is no longer the focus of a probe by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Waxman sent a letter on March 12 to an attorney who is suing Barbour Griffith and a security firm, Diligence, over corporate espionage allegations.

But Waxman has since rescinded that March 12 request for information involving the case. A source familiar with the situation, who would speak only on condition of anonymity, said Waxman “got used” by the attorney for IPOC, which is suing Barbour Griffith and Diligence. “It’s an odd thing for Waxman to drop an investigation,” the source added.

The follow-up letter from Waxman, sent to Winston & Strawn attorney Gordon Dobie, stated, “I am now writing to officially withdraw that document request.”

Edward MacMahon, an attorney for Barbour Griffith, declined comment. A spokesman for Winston & Strawn said the lawyers for IPOC provided information to Waxman’s committee and would comply with any additional Waxman requests.

K Street Moves. Micah Green, the former president of the Bond Market Association who was named last year the co-chief executive of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, is leaving the group in mid-April. SIFMA, a result of a merger between the Bond Market Association and Securities Industry Association, has faced post-merger turbulence recently — including not being able to find a Democrat to lead its lobbying division.

Green, a Democrat, said in an e-mail that he wasn’t sure of his next move but “I am very excited about taking some time to not only reflect upon what is next in my professional life, but also reconnect with my family and friends in Washington who have endured my life on the road the last nearly eight years.”

Marc Lackritz, who also is a Democrat and the former president of the SIA, will be SIFMA’s sole CEO, SIFMA announced in a statement last week.

• Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates has expanded its senior management team and promoted Beau Phillips and Shannon Hunt to partners. The firm has added five senior vice presidents including Chuck Young, Brian Berry, Juan Cortiñas-Garcia, Phyllis Cuttino and Josh Wenderoff.

“2006 was an exceptional year for CLS with a host of new clients and growth in every aspect of our business,” Bob Chlopak, the firm’s CEO, said in a statement.