K Street Files: Lawmakers Fete Wolff

Posted May 19, 2009 at 6:07pm

Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Brian Wolff is getting a send-off that most K Streeters working on major pending legislation before Congress would kill for.

[IMGCAP(1)]DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) and other members of the House Democratic Caucus, are hosting a cocktail reception from 6 to 8 p.m. June 4 at the swanky Newseum honoring Edison Electric Institute’s new senior vice president, according to an invite for the event.

In addition to being the top staffer at the DCCC, Wolff was also Pelosi’s political director before leaving for Edison in March.

While he has not yet registered to lobby for the association, which represents shareholder-owned electric utilities, Wolff is expected to register in the near future, according to EEI spokesman Jim Owen.

Because he worked for the DCCC and not Congress, Wolff does not have any restrictions on lobbying anyone on the Hill, including Pelosi.

The GOP-leaning EEI beefed up its Democratic ties with global warming legislation looming. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has called the group a “major player— in the massive climate change bill.

But not everybody is cheering the DCCC’s decision to throw Wolff a party. Ethics watchdogs like Public Citizen’s Craig Holman say events like these are worrisome.

“This does mark an uncomfortable relationship between elected officials and private special interest that are subject to current and pending legislative proposals,— Holman said.

The timing of the party has nothing to do with legislation and everything to do with getting all the lawmakers’ schedules together, according to DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.

“This is a reception celebrating Brian’s six years at the DCCC and his more than a decade of work with the Speaker to help elect Democrats to the House,— Crider said.

She added: “Brian Wolff is exactly the type of person we want working with industry — he’s dedicated to our issues and is a reformer with the highest ethical standards.—

U.S. Cellular Beefs Up Trades. U.S. Cellular, the sixth-largest cellular company in the country, is expanding its Washington presence beyond CTIA — the Wireless Association, by joining the Rural Cellular Association.

John Gockley, vice president of legal and regulatory affairs at U.S. Cellular, and CTIA downplayed U.S. Cellular’s decision to join the RCA, saying it wasn’t because of any unhappiness with the CTIA.

“We continue to be an active member of CTIA and sit on its executive committee because it also represents a wide range of issues that are important to our customers, and we see value in being a part of both groups,— Gockley said.

Rubber Meets Washington. Companies that rely on tire imports have formed a new group called the American Coalition for Free Trade in Tires.

The coalition was formed in response to a petition filed by the United Steelworkers with the International Trade Commission seeking to limit tire imports.

The law and lobbying firm Jochum Shore & Trossevin represents the coalition, which includes such members as Del-Nat Tire Corp., Orteck Global Supply & Distribution, Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. and Foreign Tire Sales.

The coalition said thousands of American jobs will be on the line if quotas are imposed on the number of imports.

Going Global. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday launched its Africa Business Initiative. The group will focus on policies to help U.S. businesses secure investment in Africa. It will also advocate for trade between the United States and African countries.

“Africa’s successful integration into the global economy is essential to the long-term stability of the region,— said Myron Brilliant, the chamber’s senior vice president of international affairs, according to a statement.

K Street Moves. Paul Nagle, Republican chief counsel of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has joined Capitol Decisions Inc., one of the Van Scoyoc Associates’ companies. A former Federal Communications Commission aide, Nagle joins as a vice president at the firm.

• The director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, Caroline Fredrickson, is leaving this summer to become executive director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, the ACS announced on Tuesday. ACLU spokeswoman Emily Tynes said a national search would be conducted for Fredrickson’s replacement.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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