Prescription for Growth

Posted December 4, 2007 at 6:23pm

The lobbying outpost of Teva Pharmaceuticals must be taking some growth pills. The office, headed by Debra Barrett for two years, just tripled in size. This week, Rob Falb, formerly a senior lobbyist with the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, joined Teva. And David Sanders, formerly in the legislative affairs office of the Patent and Trademark Office, came on board the week before. [IMGCAP(1)]

“It’s a recognition that it’s very, very important for us to be involved in the policy-making process. We want to be at the table and we want to be seen as a resource,” Barrett said. She added that the Israeli based company is involved in generics, brand products and making chemicals used for drugs, so “our office should reflect that.”

Starring … Movie stars routinely descend on Capitol Hill to try their hand at the K Street craft for a favored cause. Now Jeff Porro of Porro Associates LLC has taken the reverse and much less-traveled path: He has tried his hand at the movie business.

Porro, who writes public policy speeches for the top executives of such groups as the Business Roundtable and the American Chemical Society, got an idea more than 10 years ago for a film. That movie — The Great Debaters, directed by Denzel Washington and produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions — opens on Dec. 25.

But, he said, he’s not quitting his day job.

“If I was 25 and not married with two little kids, I’d say I’ll move to Hollywood and try it,” Porro said. “I really do love speech-writing.”

The movie idea was sparked in 1997 when Porro read a story in American Legacy Magazine about a debate team from historically black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Per the movie, the college’s 1935 debate team, coached by Melvin Tolson (played by Washington), takes on Harvard’s debate team and — spoiler alert — wins the national championship.

As he read the story, Porro came across the name of James Farmer Jr., one of the debate team members and later a civil rights leader, whom Porro recalled hearing speak at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964 during Porro’s freshman year of college.

He started looking deeper into the story by doing research at the Library of Congress.

“I said, ‘This could be a movie,’” he recalled. So he contacted his buddy Robert Eisele, a screenwriter, and nine years ago they pitched the idea to Harpo.

“For a while we thought the movie wouldn’t get made,” Porro said. “Finally, Denzel Washington’s agent brought the script to him.” Washington signed on to both direct and star in the film.

Porro, though, won’t get to mingle with Washington and the other celebrities. He said he will have to miss the L.A. premiere next week because of a long-planned family trip to Thailand. But he does have a couple of new movie ideas brewing.

K Street Moves. Volvo Group North American has revved up its Washington, D.C., lobbying office. Jonathan Miller, formerly with the European Commission delegation in Washington, has signed on as vice president of government relations and runs the outpost. Peter Prout has joined as director of government relations and focuses on environmental issues, while Mari Norberg has come on board as office manager.

• The Alliance to Save Energy has reshuffled and added staff to create a new Policy and Research team. Joe Loper, a 16-year veteran of the group, will head it as vice president. Lowell Ungar, a former aide to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who has been with the group since 2003, is now director of policy. Brad Penney, previously a solo practitioner, joins the group as director of Government Relations. And Clayton Crownover, previously an aide to Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), joins as a policy analyst.

• John Neuffer, formerly with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, has joined the Information Technology Industry Council as vice president of Technology and Trade Policy. In his new role, Neuffer will direct ITIC’s global government relations efforts, including working with foreign governments.

• Comcast Corp. has promoted lobbyist Melissa Maxfield, a former political liaison with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. As vice president of Federal Government Affairs, she will now oversee the cable giant’s Congressional lobbying team.

• Juria Jones has joined the Washington, D.C., office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy. She most recently served as chief counsel for Immigration and Courts for Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

• Chris Huckleberry has left his post as legislative director for Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.) to join Qwest Communications.

• Paul Tagliabue, the former National Football League commissioner, has gone back to Covington & Burling, where he was a partner. He will work out of Covington’s Washington and New York offices. The NFL is a longtime lobbying and legal client of the firm.

Submit K Street Files tips here
.