Seeing Green

Posted February 22, 2008 at 6:15pm

Lobbyists don’t necessarily have to wear green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Members of Congress — they just have to bring some.

[IMGCAP(1)]Hoping to attract a little Irish luck, Members of Congress and K Streeters already are gearing up for a series of St. Paddy’s-themed fundraisers.

Supporters of Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) can get their Irish on at a March 11 event at Johnny’s Half Shell, though an organizer for the event declined to give

details. Looking for a little hair of the dog the next day? Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y) has a “Sushi & Shamrocks” shindig for a $500 individual contribution. An organizer did not respond to a phone call seeking comment on such pressing matters as, “Will the sushi be green?”

The coffers of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y) also will benefit on March 12, according to an invite for a “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration” with a $1,000 price tag. The event’s contact person did not return a call or e-mail seeking comment.

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) is planning a St. Patrick’s getaway in Savannah, Ga., which is home to the country’s second-largest St. Paddy’s parade (on March 14 this year). For a contribution of $2,500, lobbyists can decamp from K Street and spend the weekend of March 14-16 at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa.

Firm Appropriations. The earmark-focused lobbying firm The National Group has made two appropriations of its own. The firm has secured Frank Cushing, who most recently was the Republican staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, and Meg Thompson, who spent 15 years working for Democrats on the House and Senate appropriations committees. Cushing is also joining the law firm Oldaker, Biden and Belair, which is affiliated with The National Group.

Vincent Versage, who started The National Group in 2002 after leaving Cassidy & Associates, said he has known Cushing since the 1980s when the two were aides in the Senate. “We’ve just been friends ever since,” Versage said. “I encouraged him to come join us.”

Versage acknowledged that the current environment is a tough one for appropriations lobbying. But, he said, “I feel confident that Members of Congress are going to continue to come up with the kinds of process reforms that will make it more transparent. We have no problem with that.”

Neither Cushing nor Thompson can lobby the House Appropriations Committee for one year during their “cooling off” period.

Setting Up Camp. The Boulder, Colo.-based Outdoor Industry Association has pitched a tent in Washington, D.C. And the group, which lobbies for sports and recreation companies, hired Todd Keller, formerly a consultant to the Pew Environment Group, to run its new outpost located near Union Station.

Keller, who will be director of recreation policy, will oversee the D.C. office and focus on water conservation issues as well as legislative efforts to get children active. He was previously chief of staff to former Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls (D).

Jersey Connections. The MWW Group, which has experienced client and lobbyist departures in recent years, is perhaps mounting a comeback by acquiring the lobbying practice of Jorden Burt.

The addition will expand the firm’s D.C. office by six people and increase its client roster by 26, including many in the appropriations sector, said MWW D.C. office head Timothy Yehl.

Among the new hires is Marilyn Berry Thompson, a longtime lobbyist and one-time head of the state of New Jersey’s lobbying outpost, who will become an executive vice president at MWW Group. Thompson focuses on higher education, health care and local government funding.

“I’ve known her for a decade, and we wanted her because of her expertise, her reputation, the scope of her client work,” said Yehl, who joined MWW a year ago and previously served as chief of staff for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). “Part of my plan was to grow the footprint of this office, and this is a huge step in that plan.”

Yehl said Thompson’s group will bring a little more than $2 million annually, tripling MWW’s revenue. “We’re going to kick down the walls and fill more offices,” Yehl added.

K Street Moves. After two years as the Republican staff director at the House Education and Labor Committee, Vic Klatt is returning to a lobbying job at his former employer, Van Scoyoc Associates. Klatt will be a founding partner in a yet-to-be-named new bipartisan venture that will focus on education and domestic policy issues.

When Klatt left Van Scoyoc in 2006 to return to Capitol Hill, he reported that the previous year he had earned $1.2 million at Van Scoyoc. “It’s great to have Vic back in the fold,” H. Stewart Van Scoyoc said in a statement.

The money ain’t bad, either.

• Bob Foosaner, Sprint Nextel Corp.’s senior VP and regulatory officer, announced last week that he is retiring at the end of this month. Before joining Nextel in 1992, Foosaner was a partner at Jones Day and before that worked at the Federal Communications Commission. Spring Nextel senior VP Vonya McCann will take over in the interim.

• The Copyright Alliance, which lobbies for stepped-up enforcement of intellectual property laws and includes such members as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, has tapped Lucinda Dugger, formerly with the National League of Cities, to be the organization’s new director of outreach and field initiatives.

• Alisa Chestler, previously a vice president and general counsel at Silver Spring, Md.’s APS Healthcare Inc., has joined Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz’s health practice.

• The departure of one of its name partners has forced a moniker change for Parven Pomper Schuyler. Beau Schuyler, who was legislative director for Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) before decamping to K Street, left the all-Democratic firm to become senior director of federal government relations at UST Public Affairs, a sister company of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. and Ste. Michelle Wines Estates. The lobby shop’s new name is Parven Pomper Strategies Inc.

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