Trading Places

Posted April 6, 2007 at 5:49pm

Maybe lobbyists really do have all the power. With the Doha round of World Trade Organization talks stalled indefinitely, a delegation of K Streeters led by the National Association of Manufacturers is traipsing all the way to Brazil this week with the lofty goal of getting the trade talks back on pace. [IMGCAP(1)]

Sources familiar with the trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, stressed that the lobbyists would not be there to negotiate but merely to discuss private-sector sticking points between Brazilian and U.S. industries. The NAM delegation does have the blessing of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, whose staffers provided a briefing in advance of the trip, sources said. No USTR officials are expected to go to the South American country with the lobbyists. A USTR spokeswoman did not provide a comment by deadline.

The K Street team includes former Michigan Gov. John Engler, NAM’s president and chief executive; Whirlpool’s vice president of government relations, Thomas Catania; Sushan Demirjian, director of international affairs for the American Chemistry Council; American Forestry and Paper Association’s Jacob Handelsman; and Ralph Ives, executive vice president of global strategy at AdvaMed, as well as executives from CropLife America, Medtronic, the Consumer Electronics Association and Electronic Industries Alliance.

The lobbyists will meet with their Brazilian counterparts from Tuesday through Friday, in the city known for its yummy churrascarias (Brazilian barbecue) and average highs of 77 degrees this time of year.

“These meetings will show that U.S. and Brazil industry have more common ground than people believe,” Engler wrote in an e-mail. “If we can agree we want more out of the Doha Round, this could light the fuse that jump-starts the WTO negotiations.”

Grand Plan. Just because the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world — its park is the size of Delaware — doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from some human-sized help on Capitol Hill. The Grand Canyon Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the natural landmark, recently tapped Patrick Mitchell of Strategic Impact to help lobby on “policies relating to the U.S. Park Service,” according to Senate filings.

Mitchell said his work will focus on funding for the park system. Richard Mayol, a spokesman for the trust, declined to elaborate. But he said with the change of power in Congress, the group sees an opportunity to make progress on some long-stalled legislative initiatives.

“We’re certainly encouraged by the positions being taken by the new majority,” he said.

He said the group tapped Mitchell — an aide to former Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) — for his ties to a pair of powerful Arizona Democrats: Reps. Ed Pastor, who sits on the Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior, and Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the Natural Resources subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands.

Eggheads. Right in time for Easter, the United Egg Producers — a group representing the interests of the egg industry — has inked a lobbying deal with Ogilvy Government Relations. But while kids across the country paint their eggs, the team at Ogilvy will be working to ensure lawmakers don’t make omelets out of the industry in environmental legislation and the upcoming farm bill reauthorization, according to Senate filings. The lobbyists were unavailable for comment.

Battle of Words. The Armenian National Committee of America, which is trying to get Congress to pass a resolution calling the 1915 killings by the Ottoman Empire “genocide,” has stepped up its effort to poke holes in its corporate-backed opposition.

Several companies through their trade associations have lobbied against calling the killings genocide because they worry about the national security and business fallout from modern-day Turkey, which vehemently opposes the resolution.

The Armenian group is touting several letters from companies like Philip Morris International, which wrote to the Armenian council saying that it is a member of the American Turkish Council, which is lobbying against the resolution, but that neither Philip Morris nor its parent company Altria “have taken a position — and neither company plans to take a position — on the proposed resolution.”

Aram Hamparian, the ANCA’s executive director, said groups like the ATC are “seeking to create the false impression that major U.S. corporations are against the Armenian Genocide Resolution, despite the fact that — when asked — these companies assert that they are not involved in any way against this human rights measure.”

But like the battle over whether to call it genocide, the competing lobbying efforts have come down to words. The ATC’s Jim Holmes said the Armenian group’s effort amounts to “spin city” and added that the ATC will continue to fight the resolution because it would do harm to its members’ business in Turkey.

K Street Moves. Diana Bostic, a longtime aide to former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) when he was in the Senate and also when he became a lobbyist at Patton Boggs, has joined the National Fisheries Institute as vice president of political affairs. “Her expertise and extensive knowledge of the legislative process will benefit our members as they help their legislators understand their businesses,” said the group’s president, John Connelly, in a statement.

• Quinn Gillespie & Associates has added Bonnie Hogue Duffy as co-manager of the firm’s health care practice. Most recently, Duffy was director of federal policy at the Alzheimer’s Association and previously was an aide to former Sen. David Pryor (D-Ark.) on the Senate Aging Committee and an aide to Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

• Jennifer Bonar Gray, a former tax, trade and budget counsel to Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), has been tapped as vice president of tax for the National Multi Housing Council.

• The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has hired Debra Campbell, a former lobbyist with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, to be national manager of government relations. She will lobby on such issues as stem-cell research, which the Senate has said it may take up this week, and appropriations matters.