K Street Files: Fromer Rejects SIFMA

Posted June 16, 2009 at 6:27pm

The Security Industries and Financial Markets Association’s expected decision to name former Bush White House aide Kevin Fromer as its chief lobbyist hit a snag this week after Fromer turned down the trade group’s job offer, according to several financial services lobbyists.

[IMGCAP(1)]Fromer, who was the top legislative affairs aide at the Treasury Department under former Secretary Henry Paulson, had been criticized by industry insiders for his GOP credentials, his lack of trade group know-how and his in-house experience.

While Fromer’s name has been floated as the lead candidate for SIFMA’s top lobbying job over the past two weeks, the trade group is so far staying mum.

“We do not comment on these types of personal matters,— SIFMA spokesman Travis Larson said.

SIFMA has been searching for nearly a month to replace Michael Paese, a Democrat, who left to run Goldman

Sachs’ in-house Washington lobbying team. SIFMA’s chief executive is Republican Tim Ryan.

Fromer’s decision to walk away from SIFMA will surely reignite speculation on whether the trade group’s top Democratic lobbyist, Scott DeFife, is still under consideration for the position.

Should DeFife be passed over for the position, it would be the second time since the one-time senior policy director to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was not selected as the group’s chief lobbyist. He is currently acting as head of SIFMA’s Washington, D.C., office.

Green Light. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) will release his blueprint Thursday for a new transportation bill, legislation that should spur hundreds of lobbyists to fan out across Capitol Hill in search of billions of dollars in upgrades to highways and rail lines.

“The lobbying effort that is going to take place in part due to the economic downturn is going to be unprecedented,— a transportation lobbyist said this week. “This is going to be a situation where any or all transportation- or infrastructure-related lobbying shops are going to pursue full-bore using every available means in order to secure their interests.—

Oberstar is slated to unveil his sketch of transportation priorities at a June 18 Capitol Hill press conference, which was originally scheduled for today. According to a release, Oberstar “has promised that the authorization will transform the way the federal government invests highway, safety and transit funds.—

Sharing the federal government’s increasingly limited resources in a down economy sets the stage for a pitched battle between state governments, building materials producers and equipment makers, all of whom will be looking for their share of the money.

Complicating matters on the committee is Oberstar himself, who is no friend of the earmarking process and is poised for a possible showdown with his pork-inclined colleagues whose districts are facing double-digit unemployment figures.

“At this point in time, the only entity that has money is the federal government,— the lobbyist said.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the transportation sector last cycle gave $55 million to federal candidates — and overwhelmingly to Republicans. In 2007-08, transportation firms and their employees gave 63 percent of their political contributions to federal GOP officeholders and candidates.

Pretty Please? Ford Motor Co., the only American-based automobile producer to not take taxpayer bailout money, pleaded with Senators on Tuesday to pass a $1 billion “cash for clunkers— program that may come up for a vote today.

The proposal would give car owners as much as $4,500 to trade in their gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient cars, a nod to environmental groups. Car producers and unions also are pushing for passage to help the struggling auto industry.

“While the vouchers provide direct help to consumers, it also helps support jobs across the industry,— Ford vice president for government affairs Peter Lawson wrote Senators on Tuesday. “Automakers, autoworkers, suppliers and dealers all benefit from increased sales and that’s why the proposal has been endorsed by both labor and business.—

The automaker’s letter comes one day after the union representing Ford’s employees, the United Auto Workers, also begged lawmakers to pass the cash for clunkers bill.

In a similar letter to Senators, UAW lobbyist Alan Reuther called the bill “the single most important step Congress can take right now to assist the auto industry, including struggling dealers, suppliers, manufacturers and their workers and retirees.—

Contact Sport. The National Football League has drafted some Democratic muscle to its lobbying team by signing the Glover Park Group. The firm will monitor legislation, including the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act and other cable and communications issues, according to a recent disclosure filed with the Senate.

Gregg Rothschild, former deputy chief of staff and chief counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will serve as quarterback for the Glover Park team, which will also include lobbyists Joel Johnson, Susan Brophy, Joyce Brayboy and Chris Treanor.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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