Lobbying for a Cause

Posted October 15, 2007 at 6:30pm

The Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest, which works with charitable organizations to help them put their imprint on government policy, has tapped a new head. Larry Ottinger, who spent 10 years with People for the American Way and served most recently as director of policy and leadership development at the Fannie Mae Foundation, will become the group’s president on Nov. 1. [IMGCAP(1)]

The nine-year-old center trains executives with charities and other nonprofits on how to lobby government officials.

“It’s about changing laws to get at the roots of the problem,” Ottinger said. “A lot of nonprofits don’t know they have rights to be involved in public policy.”

A specialist in First Amendment law, Ottinger also will lobby Congress on any legislation that might impact charities.

Legally Speaking. Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) says the Justice Department hasn’t told him he’s the target of any probe. And he hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

But the lawmaker more than doubled to $55,000 the amount he spent on legal fees over the past three months, according to his October filings with the Federal Election Commission.

That’s compared with $22,676 the Congressman spent on legal services during the previous reporting period.

According to the latest reports, Mollohan paid the Washington, D.C., law firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel $55,000 on July 10. The Justice Department is reportedly probing links between the Democrat and several West Virginia nonprofits to which he has channeled earmarks.

Meanwhile, retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) paid $15,000 to D.C. firm Steptoe & Johnson on Aug. 2 and continues to owe $106,042 more to Patton Boggs for legal fees. He spent $25,000 on legal services during the previous fundraising quarter. Renzi announced his retirement at the end of August after an FBI raid on a family business revealed he was under federal investigation.

E-vironmental. The Green the Capitol Initiative has hit the Internet and will soon arrive on Capitol Hill in expo form.

Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard will sponsor the Green Transportation Expo on Oct. 25, allowing House employees to check out environmentally friendly Segways, bicycles and alternative vehicles.

“It really marks the beginning of an employee-led culture change here at the House,” CAO spokesman Jeff Ventura said. Most of the expo will be held in the Cannon House Office Building, but many of the vehicles will be outside on First Street Southeast, between Cannon and the Library of Congress.

Another new section of the CAO’s Web site focuses on the overall initiative itself.

The CAO’s Web site is cao.house.gov.

— Kate Ackley, Rachel Van Dongen and Elizabeth Brotherton