Server Down

Posted June 26, 2007 at 6:21pm

Remember the old lyrics, “I want my MTV”? Well, it’s time for a new jingle: “I want my Internet radio.”

The SaveNetRadio.org group, which is lobbying to stop an increase in the royalties Internet-radio companies have to pay to play songs, organized a call-your-Member-of-Congress campaign on Tuesday. [IMGCAP(1)]

The response overwhelmed the servers of Capitol Advantage, which runs Capwiz, a program SaveNet was using to help people identify and contact their elected Members.

“This is the highest capacity we’ve seen in a very long time on a single-issue campaign,” said Capitol Advantage’s senior vice president for operations, Mark West. “It’s on par with when Oprah Winfrey talks about a specific issue, she’s done that a couple times, and where she’s asked people to call your representatives in Congress.”

West said the operational issues did not affect other clients because the company moved the Internet radio folks to their own server. He said he didn’t have the numbers yet, but estimated that at least 20,000 people, and possibly as many as 40,000, were calling their Members on Tuesday.

SaveNet spokesman Jake Ward said the effort was part of a larger one, which included some net radio stations going silent for the day, to make a statement that “if Congress doesn’t help us, this is what you’ll face everyday: silence.”

Richard Ades, a spokesman for SoundExchange, which collects the fees and then distributes them equally to artists and copyright holders, said his group vehemently opposes the bill SaveNet is lobbying for, the Internet Radio Equality Act.

“It’s not just that they want to stop an increase, they want to effect a decrease,” he said. The day of silence, he added, is “really about the big webcasters wanting the bill because it would net them between $75 million and $100 million — right out of the pockets of the artists and record labels.”

Pay Day. If you see the folks at Qorvis Communications, or its subcontractors at Patton Boggs, celebrating with fine champagne, here’s why: The public affairs firm has finally collected a large — some estimates put the bill as high as $5 million — outstanding sum from its client, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Qorvis declined to comment on the matter, saying through its partner Donald Goldberg that it doesn’t discuss such issues. But Saudi spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir confirmed that all bills have been paid to Qorvis as well as to Patton Boggs and other subcontractors. Al-Jubeir said he did not know why it took so long for the kingdom to make good on its lucrative contract with Qorvis.

“It wasn’t a problem with the quality of the service,” he said. “We were very satisfied with the work. It was just bureaucratic stuff back home.”

Al-Jubeir said his country plans to continue working with Qorvis.

Healthy Choice. Joel White, a former Ways and Means aide for then-Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), has found the ways and means for a budding lobbying practice. White’s JC White Consulting, which he started earlier this year, has added the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Verizon, Bioscrip and the National Coalition on Quality Diagnostic Imaging Services as clients.

He said he is focusing on health care and tax clients.

For the imaging services coalition, White said, the group is on defense when it comes to a reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. “As folks are looking to reauthorize SCHIP, [the client is] worried about being on the chopping block,” he said. “They believe a better way to go is raising quality and safety standards for all providers. We should raise the bar, not lower the boon.”

White, who also is a scholar at the conservative health think tank Galen Institute, said he is working with Verizon on information technology uses in health care.

K Street Moves. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has picked a K Streeter to become her new chief of staff. Karen Knutson — an Alaska native who is currently the vice president of government relations for the Business Software Alliance and one-time aide to Murkowski’s father, Frank — will join the Hill office on Aug. 21.

“I’m very excited,” said Knutson, whose husband, Kent, runs the lobbying office for Home Depot. “It’s a real honor for me.”

Knutson previously served as a deputy assistant to Vice President Cheney for domestic policy and worked on energy issues for the VP.

• Lobbyist Jeffrey Weiss — also known as the husband of socialite/lobbyist Juleanna Glover Weiss — is leaving the firm BKSH after more than seven years at the shop. Weiss’ clients have included Boeing, NEC, Cummings, JP Morgan Chase, Chevron and the Pakistan People’s Party.

No word on whether he will be taking any of those clients with him to new firm Global Policy Partners, a London-based enterprise. Weiss will join former BKSHer Katherine Friess at GPP, which does a lot of defense work for such clients as L3 SafeView, Aegis Defense Services, Thistle Intelligence Group and Strategic Communications Laboratories.

“I’ll be helping them with their defense clients,” said Weiss, who will be senior vice president. He added that it would be hard to leave BKSH where he had “seven and a half good years with Charlie,” aka Charlie Black.

• The airline trade group Air Transport Association has hired Nancy Young to fill its newly created position of vice president of environmental affairs. She will begin on July 9. In addition, ATA has promoted Patricia Higginbotham to chief of staff.

• Ellen Golombek has joined the Planned Parenthood Federation of America as its new vice president for external affairs. Golombek was formerly assistant to the secretary-treasurer and director of government affairs for the Service Employees International Union.

“Ellen Golombek has been a champion of health care access for men, women, and families,” PPFA President Cecile Richards said in a statement. “Her leadership on progressive issues in the labor movement will be invaluable to Planned Parenthood, and I am thrilled to have her guidance as we work to ensure women’s health and safety.”