K Street Files: Republican Watch

Posted June 2, 2009 at 6:05pm

Much to Democrats’ chagrin, Republican staffers, even those who worked for President George W. Bush, continue to get sweet jobs on K Street.

[IMGCAP(1)]The most recent example: Margaret Stewart. Stewart, who was a Senate Budget Committee staffer before joining Vice President Dick Cheney’s legislative team, is joining Yahoo’s Washington, D.C., office, according to a source close to the tech company. It’s unclear what position Stewart will be taking, but it’s not the top slot, which is held by Democrat and former Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) counsel David Hantman.

Stewart’s not the only GOPer headed in-house.

Seth Webb, an aide to House Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), is trading in Capitol Hill for K Street. Webb is joining Google’s Washington office as a senior policy manager. Webb also worked for Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) as chief of staff to the Republican Conference.

Reformers Push Ban. Just days after the White House moved to loosen lobbying restrictions on stimulus funds, reform groups such as Democracy 21 and Public Citizen are advocating for the new rules to apply beyond the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

The lobbying ban on oral communication now applies only to competitively bid applications on the stimulus package. But it applies equally to nonlobbyists now as well as lobbyists.

“We think that’s continued progress in providing greater transparency in government,— Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer said. “We also see this as creating potential for extending these rules to other activities conducted by the executive branch.—

Public Citizen’s Craig Holman agrees.

“I see this as setting the groundwork for much more extensive across-the-board bans on lobbying activity,— Holman said.

Only time will tell.

The White House isn’t making any big promises to the reformers.

“These restrictions are intended to deal with the unusual circumstances presented by the stimulus program — an economic crisis of rare proportions — and a need to deal with that crisis by rapidly distributing funds, White House Ethics Adviser Norm Eisen said in an e-mail statement.

“The Administration will make future decisions about lobbying in the context of the particular circumstances presented — but we will of course keep innovating to promote the public interest and limit special interests,— he added.

Listen Up. The Hearing Industries Association has hired a team of lobbyists from Alston & Bird to help it get heard on Capitol Hill.

The group, which represents companies that make hearing aids — which are usually not covered by health insurance — is pushing for passage of House and Senate bills that would allow up to a $500 tax credit for the purchase of a hearing aid.

The group is hoping that the measure will be included as part of any moving health care reform bill.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is the lead sponsor of the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act in the Senate, while Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) is the point person in the House. “We’re happy with both bills and incredibly happy with the leadership of Sen. Harkin and Congresswoman McCarthy,— Alston & Bird’s Mark Rayder said.

K Street Moves. The Raben Group’s Dave Grimaldi is heading back to Capitol Hill. Grimaldi, who has been with the firm more than two years, is joining House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) staff as senior counsel. Grimaldi also previously worked for Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.).

Barvetta Singletary, who was Clyburn’s deputy chief of staff in his personal office, is replacing AJ Jones as policy director for the Whip’s office. Jones is now at Podesta Group.

• The National Community Pharmacists Association has added three senior staffers to its roster. Joanne Thelmo, senior business affairs attorney at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will be senior vice president and general counsel.

Kevin Schweers and Ronna Hauser are also joining the group. Schweers, who most recently served as deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is joining as vice president of public affairs.

Hauser signs on as vice president of policy and regulatory affairs. Before joining the NCPA, she worked at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores as director of pharmacy advocacy and policy.

• Kathryn Fulton is joining H&R Block as senior vice president of government relations and public policy. Futon most recently served as director in government relations and public policy at Barclays Capital.

• University of Chicago is expanding its Washington office, hiring Matthew Greenwald as deputy director of federal relations. Greenwald most recently served as senior representative with the federal government and local jurisdictions for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

• The U.S. Olympic Committee has hired former Senate staffer Desiree Filippone to run its Washington, D.C., office. Filippone, an executive at Eli Lilly and Co., worked for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) from 1999 to 2000.

Matthew Murray and Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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