Who’s Driving NAM?

Posted May 2, 2008 at 5:17pm

After a much-publicized legal defeat, the National Association of Manufacturers last week reluctantly complied with new lobbying disclosure rules that require organizations to list their members. NAM, which is still fighting in the courts, named 65 of its members in its first quarterly report for 2008.

[IMGCAP(1)]NAM, like other lobbying groups and coalitions, must reveal the names of any companies or groups that contribute more than $5,000 in the quarter and that actively participate in shaping NAM’s lobbying campaigns.

The list includes companies as varied as AT&T, Caterpillar Inc., Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Northrop Grumman and Merck & Co.

But what about the big automakers? No Ford. No General Motors.

Ziad Ojakli, Ford’s vice president for government relations, sits on NAM’s board and reports that his company is “a proud member of NAM and equally proud serving on the board.” A GM spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Hank Cox, a NAM spokesman, said the association only listed those members that paid their annual dues during the first quarter. NAM members typically pay once per year in one lump sum.

Ford and GM and other members will pay at different times of the year and will be listed under the quarter in which they pony up their dues. “So the next cycle will be different,” Cox said, indicating that it will take a full year of quarterly reports, apparently, to learn the full scope of NAM’s members. “We obey the law,” he added.

No More Jack. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands used to have to hire Jack Abramoff to be heard on Capitol Hill (Who can forget the infamous trips the former ber lobbyist organized, shuttling Members of Congress, including former Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney, to the islands.)

But now the tiny islands are preparing to have their very own Member of Congress this fall, after a provision in the immigration bill called for the commonwealth to have a Delegate in the House.

So it has hired Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations to tell its story in Washington. “That was then and this is now,” said FHGR’s Jeff Taylor about Abramoff. “The economy is kind of hitting the commonwealth probably a little worse than other areas of the country.”

The commonwealth hired Fleishman after splitting with Oldaker, Biden & Belair in January. The new team will lobby on economic development, trade and jobs, Taylor said. Taylor, along with former Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Texas), Paul Sweet and Michael McSherry, signed up the islands in late April.

Dialing Up a Democrat. The U.S. Telecom Association, which is run by Republican Walter McCormick Jr., has brought on a high-profile Democrat to serve as the organization’s No. 2.

Alan Roth, a longtime lobbyist with Lent Scrivner & Roth and before that a top aide to House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), will join USTA in June, overseeing the group’s political action committee and its lobbying division. He will also be a public voice for the group on Capitol Hill, offering testimony before Congress.

“Unlike so many issues in Washington, telecom traditionally has not been a partisan issue,” Roth said. “Given the fact that obviously Congress has been in Democratic hands for the last year, year and a half, this will demonstrate that this industry sees the value of continuing that bipartisan cooperation.”

McCormick, who has known Roth for two decades, said the two worked together when Roth was staff director of the House Commerce Committee and he was the GOP staff director for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“He is candid, straightforward and honest,” McCormick said of Roth. “Alan brings real stature, real experience and a reputation for professionalism that will serve this industry and our member companies well.”

Michael Scrivner said he’s sad to see his business partner go. “Our loss is USTA’s gain,” he said. “They made a real smart move doing that. He is one of the smartest, most capable people in this town.”

Scrivner said the firm would rely more on Democratic lobbyist Pete Leon. The shop also plans to cast a net for new colleagues or opportunities with existing firms.

Roth said that he is looking forward to being in-house.

“When you’re an outside consultant, someone else is devising the policy, the strategy, someone else is sending you out telling you what they need to have you do, often at the last minute when the damage has been done,” Roth said. “What’s appealing about this is the opportunity for really the first time since I left the Hill to be on the front end of that process, to help create the strategy, implement it.”

K Street Moves. Brett Loper, most recently chief of staff to retiring Ways and Means ranking member Jim McCrery (R-La.), has decamped from Capitol Hill to become a lobbyist at AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Association. Loper will be the group’s senior executive vice president and director of its government affairs department starting today.

McCrery is a veteran of House GOP leadership and served as deputy chief of staff for then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and was deputy associate director for legislative affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.

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