K Street Files: Congo Change-Up

Posted October 20, 2008 at 6:28pm

The Republic of Congo is shuffling its outside consultants.

[IMGCAP(1)]After two years of counting on the Livingston Group to head up its lobby efforts on behalf of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, the country has replaced the firm with a trio of lobby shops: the Loeffler Group, the Amani Group and Public Private Solutions Inc.

The Congo’s lead lobbyist, former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.), will continue to represent the country, although no longer under the Livingston Group banner. Instead, he has re-registered the country with his firm, Public Private Solutions.

The switch comes following an undisclosed client conflict with the Livingston Group. It is the second foreign government client the Livingston Group has lost this year. In March, the lobby shop was dropped from representing Turkey, which moved its representation to DLA Piper.

The Congo signed a one-year, $10,000-a-month retainer with the Loeffler Group, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents. Additionally, it will pay the Amani Group, which has a strategic partnership with the Loeffler Group, $500,000 over the next year.

The Congo also retains the law firm Trout Cacheris, which is its primary legal counsel, and the public relations firm Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates.

The biggest legislative issue for the country had been a dispute with Elliott Associates over a “vulture fund” subsidiary that bought up Congo debt at a discounted price, then filed a series of lawsuits against the country after it failed to pay back more than $100 million in debt.

That case settled for an undisclosed amount earlier this year, but Congo and Elliott Associates continue to focus on vulture funds.

Elliott Associates also changed its outside lobbyist lineup earlier this year, hiring Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

to lobby on the “role of independent debt markets,” according to Senate disclosure records. Elliott had previously used Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. Elliott declined to comment.

A Fannie Push From Nonprofits. With the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac up in the air, a lobbying push for the mortgage giants to maintain their charitable giving is coming from an unlikely source: area nonprofits.

The Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, Leadership Greater Washington, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the United Way of the National Capital Area, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement and the Greater Washington Board of Trade have banded together to make sure lawmakers understand how important Fannie’s and Freddie’s roles are in keeping Washington-area nonprofits afloat.

The coalition put together a one-page talking-points memo and has also started contacting Members of Congress to make sure they understand that Fannie and Freddie are the two largest contributors to nonprofits in the Washington area, according to Dave Robertson, executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

If the financial contributions stopped, “it would be a huge struggle for any one foundation or any collection of givers to close that gap,” Robertson said.

K Street Moves. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has filled out its ranks after lobbyists Steve Vest and Cinnamon Rogers exited for Time Warner’s Washington office. Vest joined Time Warner in September as senior vice president of global public policy and Rogers came on board earlier this month as vice president for global public policy.

NCTA hired Daphna Peled and Lon Goldstein as vice presidents of government affairs to fill the openings. Peled was formerly at the Motion Picture Association of America, where she served as vice president and senior counsel. Lon Goldstein is rejoining NCTA after a brief stint at Merrill Lynch, where he served as director of government relations. Goldstein worked in NCTA’s government relations department for the past four years.

• Martina “Tina” Hone will lead Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Washington office. Hone most recently was at Congressional Quarterly, where she was executive director of CQ Events.

• Drug company Eisai Corp. of North America is opening a Washington office. A producer of medications for Alzheimer’s disease, among other conditions, Eisai is relying on Robert Feeney, who has been with the company for three years.

Eisai also hired Pete Norman, the former manager of federal government relations at Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., as associate director.

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