K Street Files: Latest Dish

Posted December 14, 2009 at 6:15pm

The National Restaurant Association has put a new top lobbyist on its menu: Scott DeFife, a former aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), is joining the group in January as executive vice president of policy and government affairs.

[IMGCAP(1)]DeFife, who has been at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, will oversee all federal and state lobbying efforts at the restaurant association and will report to CEO Dawn Sweeney, who has been reorganizing the association.

“Dawn is really on the cutting edge of a lot of really great things, and the association plans to be relevant in a lot of policy areas,— DeFife said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to take over something that has a lot of great recognition and grass-roots opportunity.—

Sweeney said DeFife will strengthen the group’s advocacy efforts.

“As we’ve embraced a new strategic direction, we really looked for some new talent,— Sweeney said. “We have been very active on the Hill, as of late, and Scott’s going to help continue and increase our visibility on the Hill.—

DeFife previously worked for the National Conference of State Legislators and for the Washington, D.C., office of the state of Texas when Ann Richards (D) was governor.

DeFife leaves behind an organization that has gone through several staffing changes. SIFMA, the result of a merger between the Securities Industry Association and the Bond Market Association, has lost several members of its lobbying team, including Michael Paese, Shahira Knight and Richard Hunt. SIFMA, though, has added more new advocates in recent months, including former Rep. Ken Bentsen (D-Texas) as head of the D.C. office.

DeFife called Bentsen “a great leader for SIFMA,— especially as Congress is reforming the sector’s regulatory regime.

At the restaurant group, he will focus on a range of issues, including health care and taxes. “It’s a wider variety of issues that I’ll be working on,— said DeFife, who starts Jan. 11. “It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around all that often.—

Prime Spot. Vickie Walling, chief of staff to retiring Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), has landed a new gig. She will join Prime Policy Group — the result of a recent merger of BKSH & Associates and Timmons and Co. — as managing director on Jan. 11.

Walling has spent 35 years on Capitol Hill, most of those with Tanner, who announced almost two weeks ago that he is retiring at the end of his current term.

“Vickie Walling is a legend on Capitol Hill and we are thrilled she has chosen to continue her career at Prime Policy Group,— said the firm’s R. Scott Pastrick in a statement.

Walling added, “I look forward to continuing to work with the Blue Dogs and on coalition building to achieve smart and effective public policy.—

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