Renegades

Posted July 31, 2007 at 6:36pm

It passed by a landslide. But not unanimously. But why would any House Member vote against a bill entitled the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act? [IMGCAP(1)]

Six Democrats — Reps. Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), Allen Boyd (Fla.), William Lacy Clay (Mo.), Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.), John Murtha (Pa.) and John Tanner (Tenn.) — and two Republicans, Reps. Joe Barton (Texas) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — voted no Tuesday.

“This bill is window dressing,” Abercrombie said in a statement to Roll Call. “There is nothing that couldn’t be subverted, twisted or manipulated to make loopholes.”

Flake and Cleaver both said they believed the legislation would do little to prevent future instances of corruption on Capitol Hill.

“Until Congress concedes that our own practices contributed to recent scandals as much as the actions of corrupt lobbyists, lobbying reform will not be truly effective,” said Flake in a statement.

Cleaver echoed that sentiment. “If you took the crimes of Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney or Mark Foley,” he said, “and laid them over the provisions of this bill, nothing in this measure would have stopped them from doing what they did.”

Clay said he thinks current practices already are in place to punish lawbreakers: “The successful prosecutions of Jack Abramoff, his associates, and … Duke Cunningham are the best proof that existing regulations on lobbyists are effective … [this bill] will mandate unprecedented levels of record keeping and disclosure that are more burdensome than productive.”

Murtha couldn’t be reached for comment, but clues pointing to a possible explanation lie in his November 2006 profession that the bill was “total crap.”

The bipartisan stance against the legislation was best summed up by Cleaver: “I realize that … we eight will be labeled as against ethics reform. Quite the opposite is true. Together we … stand voting our conscience.”

Money to Burn. A real-life David vs. Goliath story is getting ready to play out on Capitol Hill.

While major business interests — from energy producers to big consumers, such as automakers and manufacturers — ramp up their lobbying in the Congressional debate on climate change, one man with no apparent financial interest in the issue is hiring his own K Street army to fight for more stringent environmental standards.

Julian Robertson, the legendary hedge-fund pioneer behind Tiger Management, wants Congress to adopt a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions. To help convince lawmakers, Robertson is dipping into his personal fortune — estimated near $1 billion — and assembling a boffo team of big-gun lobbyists.

In June, Robertson inked deals with both Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and King & Spalding. Among the lobbyists on the contracts: former GOP Sens. Connie Mack III (Fla.) and Dan Coats (Ind.), former Reps. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) and Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), and George Crawford, former chief of staff to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

No word on the size of the contracts — but bet that kind of talent doesn’t come cheap.

Robertson spokesman Fraser Seitel said the financier has a “long-standing personal concern in the issue” and a belief that without dramatic action “climate change will be devastating.”

“As a concerned citizen, he’s using his Constitutional right to make sure leaders in government understand how important a cap-and-trade system is to a resolution,” Seitel said. “He has doesn’t have any financial stake in the resolution of this at all — none.”

Roberston’s fund rode the stock surge of the 1990s to peak at about $22 billion in assets in 1998. But its value tumbled on poor stock picks, and Robertson shuttered it in 2000. He since has focused on philanthropy, working through the Tiger Foundation and the Robertson Scholars Program.

Heating Up. Speaking of the legislative fight over climate change, the heated debate over Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards seems to be taking its toll on one new group, Securing America’s Future Energy. The group, known as SAFE, is co-chaired by Fred Smith, the chief executive of FedEx and has been calling for a new auto-industry-opposed system, much to the chagrin of auto lobbyists and Members from auto states like Michigan. (The other co-chair is retired Gen. PX Kelley, the former commandant of the Marine Corps.)

Now, it turns out that some of SAFE’s members on the group’s Energy Security Leadership Council have dropped out. Dow Chemical has left the group, confirmed Peter Molinaro, Dow’s vice president for federal and state government affairs. Dow supports a bill by Reps. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.).

“We still support the overall goals of the council, but our agenda has become broader,” Molinaro said, adding that SAFE was focused too much on CAFE and not enough on other aspects of climate change.

Plus, he noted, the auto companies are customers of Dow. “We want a broader-level debate,” Molinaro said.

In addition to Dow, a spokesman for SAFE confirmed that Auto Nation parted ways with the group during the Senate debate over CAFE standards and a member of SAFE’s Energy Security Leadership Council from Goldman Sachs International left this week as well.

“The Energy Security Leadership Council appreciates their contributions to formulating the recommendations issued in December,” said SAFE spokesman Jonathan Grella. “The 17 ESLC members, comprised of distinguished military and corporate leaders, will continue to promote these principles and policies through this energy debate and beyond for the sake of our national and economic security.”

K Street Moves. Broydrick and Associates has added Fred Starzyk of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office as a senior associate handling an array of clients including the National Association of District Attorneys, Child Health Corporation of America, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and the Cape Cod and Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Associations, among others.

Submit K Street Files tips here
.