That’s Entertaining

Posted December 7, 2007 at 6:22pm

While talk-show host and producer Oprah Winfrey swings through early primary states to boost presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) this month, Winfrey’s employees at Harpo Productions already have ponied up for the candidate. According to a new report by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Harpo employees are sticking with their boss’s White House pick, doling out more than $20,000 for Obama’s coffers. [IMGCAP(1)]

“We have no idea what motivated these contributions,” notes the center’s executive director, Sheila Krumholz. “But whether they were based on personal conviction or a desire to be seen as team players, employees often follow their boss’s example.”

The group also reported that Obama has charmed the entertainment industry as a whole, which has sent him more than $2.2 million so far this election cycle.

That’s more than any other candidate in either party.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) runs a close second with $2.1 million coming from the entertainment industry.

Other Democratic candidates include former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), who has taken $458,990 from the entertainment set; Bill Richardson, who has reported $134,950; and Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Joseph Biden (D-Del.) have reported $231,020 and $86,850, respectively, from Hollywood and music industry types.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has collected $386,325 from the liberal-leaning industry, while Rudy Giuliani has shaken $376,826 from the entertainment tree.

The Hollywood set doesn’t register among the top 20 industries giving to GOP candidate Mitt Romney.

When it comes to lobbyist money, Clinton reigns supreme in her party with more than $550,000, according to the CRP figures, which are based on Federal Election Commission reports.

Obama and Edwards haven’t taken money from federal lobbyists. In the GOP field, McCain, a one-time chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, appears to be lobbyists’ favorite with $340,365.

Suspended in Deadline. Manufacturers will be scrambling this week to meet a Friday deadline the House Ways and Means Committee has set for introducing tariff suspension bills.

Already last week, measures to allow for cheaper imports of obscure chemicals started piling up in the hopper: Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) wants to suspend the duties on Ancamine 2422 curing agent and hexafluoro isopropyl methyl ether; Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) wants cheaper nickel carbonate and cobalt carbonate; Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich) wants cheaper yttrium oxide; and Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), ranking member on the panel, wants less-expensive methoxyacetic acid and 2- acetylnicotinic acid.

After the deadline, the Subcommittee on Trade will open a public comment period on the bills, according to a statement from the panel. Garrity Baker, senior director of global affairs for the American Chemistry Council, said he expects the measures to be rolled into a package, though he said the timing for moving it is still unclear.

Coming Out. Even though the government contracting trade group, the Coalition for Government Procurement, has been around since 1979, it has registered to lobby for the first time in recent weeks.

The group — which counts Dell, 3M and IBM among its members — made the move to register with the House and Senate because of new lobbying rules and the coalition’s own stepped-up advocacy work, said President Larry Allen. The new ethics law, he said, “prompted us to take a look at it. We also staffed up, and we want to make sure we’re doing it right.”

Earlier this year, the coalition brought on Barbara Merola, who came from the Office of Management and Budget, where she was confidential assistant to the administrator for federal procurement policy. At the coalition, she is director of policy.

Going Global. Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal has forged a “strategic alliance” with Fontheim International, a lobbying and consulting firm that focuses on international trade and business. As part of the effort, Sonnenschein is forming a global services practice, while Claude Fontheim also will join Sonnenschein as a partner in its D.C. office.

“Claude has built one of the most well-known and respected international consulting firms in the world,” Mike McNamara, chair of Sonnenschein’s public law and policy strategies practice, said in a statement.

K Street Moves. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has appointed Susan Peschin as its director of public policy in the Washington outpost. Her primary responsibility will be spearheading the national organization’s advocacy and legislative efforts. Peschin previously has worked at the Consumer Federation of America and operated her own consulting company.

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