It’s a Gas!

Posted April 24, 2007 at 5:55pm

After a disappointing third-place finish in the Republican primary for Oklahoma’s 5th district seat last year, Denise Bode is plotting a return to K Street. The former president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America is forming a new group, called the American Clean Skies Foundation, that aims to represent the natural gas industry in the pending debate over climate change. [IMGCAP(1)]

Bode spent the past decade in Oklahoma, serving on the state’s corporation commission. She got her start on Capitol Hill working for then-Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.) on energy and tax issues. The new group is still in its “formative stages” but will try to elevate the status of natural gas as a clean-burning alternative energy source, according to Ron Black, an Oklahoma-based political consultant working with Bode on the effort.

The industry already has plenty of advocates inside the Beltway — with different sectors represented by the IPAA, the American Gas Association, the Natural Gas Supply Association and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Officials with the IPAA and the suppliers said they have not yet been contacted by Bode and were unsure what role the group would play.

Not Quite a Loan. Student lending giant Sallie Mae has unleashed a torrent of political cash as it attempts to head off potentially billions of dollars in subsidy cuts that lawmakers are mulling.

The loan provider doled out more than $200,000 in contributions to federal candidates in the first three months of the year. That’s nearly a quarter of what it gave out in the entire previous two-year cycle.

A tough legislative landscape apparently puts Sallie in a giving mood: While it fends off an investigation into alleged improprieties by major lenders, it is trying to ensure that House and Senate budget negotiators don’t trim billions in federal support for the company. The outcome of the budget talks could imperil Sallie’s pending buyout by a private lending company. A spokesman for the company was unavailable for comment at press time.

The giving started slowly this year, according to CQ PoliticalMoneyLine. In March, however, Sallie cranked its giving up to more than $135,500. While the lender traditionally splits its donations roughly evenly between the parties, a Roll Call analysis found it has slightly favored Republicans so far this year.

Sunshine on the Sunscreen Lobby. Just in time for beach season, a handful of groups and a Swiss company have started a new coalition focused on sunscreen.

The Accord Group’s Robert Hurley is running Citizens for Sun Protection, an upstart that wants the Food and Drug Administration to quickly update its regulations for sunscreen ingredients.

Current FDA rules, Hurley said, cover only ultraviolet B rays, the ones that cause sunburns. However, he said, they don’t mandate protection from UVA rays, which he said “penetrate the skin more deeply and cause premature aging and cancer.”

Members of the new coalition include the Sun Safety Alliance, the Melanoma Education Foundation and Ciba Specialty Chemicals, which would stand to gain from the new FDA guidelines. That’s because Ciba makes chemicals that block UVA rays, and the company is currently awaiting FDA approval for UVA filters.

“We’re just starting out,” Hurley said of the coalition. “We are working to build it up.”

The group also plans to put pressure on FDA through Congress, since Congress called for new sunscreen guidelines last year, Hurley said.

Hurley said Europe, where Ciba is headquartered, already has UVA standards.

“We’re advocating for that,” he said.

So far, Citizens for Sun Protection has no members that make sunscreen products, and Hurley said he isn’t sure whether any would join. Some, he said, may support his group. But some makers would have to reformulate their sunscreens to meet new standards if the FDA passes the regulation.

“We’re going to target some of the sunscreen makers to join,” said Hurley, who declined to name those on his list.

Toten-What? In an effort to stand out among all the hundreds of companies and organizations in town for one-day lobbying blitzes, National Public Radio has come up with a twist on the matching T-shirts theme.

Last night, on the eve of NPR’s lobby day, the group handed out bags with a silk-screen portrait (a la Andy Warhol) of NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. Here’s the best part: NPR is calling them Toten-bags. Just what every NPR lobbyist needs today, when more than 100 member stations are slated to take part in about 200 meetings on Capitol Hill, according to NPR spokeswoman Leah Yoon.

On Board. After picking new partner Marcus Mason from Amtrak’s lobbying division, the Madison Group is chugging along with some new clients. The shop has added the BNSF Railway Co., the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, electronics company Converge, and Thompson Hospitality, the parent company of such restaurants as Austin Grill, Bob’s Big Boy restaurants and Obi Sushi.

“This is reflective of the hard work of our new partners, especially Marcus Mason,” said firm founder Robb Watters.

K Street Moves. The National Association of Manufacturers has hired tax lobbyist Dena Battle, a one-time aide to Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), as its director of tax policy. Battle previously worked at the National Federation of Independent Business.

• The grass-roots firm Direct Impact has added GOPer Steven Soper, formerly the White House’s associate director for the office of political affairs, as a vice president.