Shop Talk: Live Strong

Posted July 23, 2008 at 6:30pm

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hasn’t let a little thing like losing the Republican presidential primary keep him out of politics.

[IMGCAP(1)]Through his Free and Strong America political action committee — which is based in Boston and employs a staff of eight — Romney in recent months has donated to several Republicans running for the House and the Senate.

Romney’s PAC closed the second quarter with $424,550 in cash on hand, reporting receipts of almost $1 million and expenditures of $515,403 during the three-month period ending June 30. Romney and his wife, Ann , have each contributed the $5,000 maximum individuals are allowed to give to PACs each calendar year.

The senior staffers of Free and Strong America served in Romney’s gubernatorial administration.

They include Eric Fehrnstrom, who is handling the PAC’s communications needs and who served as the Massachusetts Republican’s traveling press secretary and senior communications adviser during his presidential campaign; Beth Myers, who is serving as the PAC’s chief consultant and served as Romney’s presidential campaign manager; and Peter Flaherty, who is the PAC’s director and served as deputy campaign manager in Romney’s White House campaign.

Among this cycle’s Republican candidates who have benefited from Romney’s PAC are 30 Congressional candidates — most of them with tough or potentially tough races ahead. In total, Free and Strong America PAC has doled out $47,900 to Republican groups and candidates since its inception — or 10 percent of its expenditures.

Those Republican candidates who have received contributions from the PAC include House incumbents and challengers such as Reps. Tom Feeney (Fla.) and Virginia Foxx (N.C.) and former state Assemblyman Dean Andal, who is running against Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) in California’s 11th district.

Romney’s PAC has also donated to GOP Senate incumbents and challengers, including Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.); Rep. Steve Pearce (N.M.), who is running for an open New Mexico Senate seat; and former Rep. Bob Schaffer, who is running for an open Colorado Senate seat.

Lawyers, Guns and Money. To navigate the complicated rules governing fundraising, the running of independent expenditures and other federal campaign regulations, the four Congressional campaign committee turn to — who else — lawyers.

Although Republicans often are not too fond of lawyers, it’s the two GOP committees — the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee — that employ in-house counsel in addition to retaining outside counsel.

The two Democratic committees — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — employ only outside counsel.

Until recently, Don McGahn served as the NRCC’s outside counsel. But since being confirmed to serve on the Federal Election Commission — he now serves as FEC chairman — the NRCC has turned to attorneys Bill McGinley and Cleta Mitchell to serve as outside counsel.

Mitchell, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Foley & Lardner LLP, is advising the NRCC on matters other than IEs. McGinley, who works in the Washington office of Patton Boggs LLP, will advise the NRCC on its IE activities.

Beth Beacham is the NRCC’s in-house counsel. She was hired last year.

The NRSC’s in-house counsel is Chris Gober. In the previous cycle, he served as deputy counsel for the Republican National Committee. Gober is a veteran of both of President Bush’s White House campaigns.

For its outside counsel needs, the NRSC is using Holtzman Vogel PLLC, a firm with offices in D.C., Warrenton, Va., and New York.

The DCCC uses the Political Law Group, a division with the law firm Perkins Coie, for all of its legal needs. Perkins Coie has 12 offices in the United States and two in China.

The DSCC also relies on Perkins Coie, with firm partner Marc Elias serving as the committee’s general counsel.

Things to Do in Denver When You’re a Republican. Tom Kise, a veteran Republican operative, has signed on to Sen. John McCain’s (Ariz.) presidential campaign as regional communications director.

Kise, who most recently was based in Sacramento, Calif., and worked for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), will have a hand in communications strategy for McCain in seven states: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

In joining the McCain campaign, Kise is reunited with Steve Schmidt, who is serving as campaign manager for the Arizona Republican’s White House campaign.

Kise first worked for Schmidt in 2002 at the NRCC, where he served on the communications team as director of TV and radio. In that capacity, Kise also reported to Carl Forti, who is now directing communications strategy at Freedom’s Watch, a GOP 501(c)(4).

Kise worked under Schmidt again in 2006, as the senior adviser for coalitions and communications on Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign, which Schmidt managed. In between Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign and joining McCain, Kise served as executive director of Schwarzenegger’s California Dream Team political committee.

Shaheen Hyers Mook. Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D), challenging Sen. John Sununu (R) in November, has hired Robby Mook as campaign manager to replace Bill Hyers.

Hyers, who has ties to two-time presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), has since hooked on with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) campaign.

Mook recently worked for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (N.Y.) presidential campaign, playing a role in Democrat’s victory over Obama in the White House primary contests in Indiana, New Hampshire and Ohio.

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