K Street Files: Tough Love

Posted January 12, 2010 at 4:07pm

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue sharply criticized the Obama administration’s legislative agenda Tuesday, threatening to use the chamber’s power during the 2010 midterm elections to defeat the president’s allies.

[IMGCAP(1)]Donohue gave a scathing assessment of several Democratic priorities at the group’s annual State of American Business event Tuesday, including climate change legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, health care reform and the financial regulatory overhaul, saying the agenda will undermine free enterprise and lead to job losses. The chamber has embarked on a free enterprise campaign with a goal of creating 20 million jobs in 10 years.

On the EFCA, Donohue discounted AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s assessment Monday that the union-supported bill would pass in the first quarter of this year.

“I don’t underestimate the power of the labor unions,— Donohue said. But, “it’s not going to get the votes.—

Donohue also said Senate Democrats were running away from the House-passed climate change legislation.

Further, health care reform and the proposals in the financial regulatory reform bill would burden business and could also heavily affect states’ ability to balance their books, he said.

Despite taking the Obama administration to task, Donohue said there wasn’t any rift between the executive branch and the chamber.

“The chamber has not had a problem with the White House. We never make it personal,— Donohue said. He noted that chamber leaders are working with the White House on several fronts, including education policy, and have supported administration priorities such as the stimulus.

Still, Donohue made it clear that the chamber expects to hold Members of Congress accountable and to play an aggressive role in the 2010 elections.

“As Americans choose a new House and new Senators this fall, the chamber will highlight lawmakers and candidates who support a pro-jobs agenda, and hold accountable those who don’t,— Donohue said.

Welcome to Washington, AARP? Seniors have long relied on AARP to push their cause in Washington, D.C., so it was surprising to see the association registering to influence Congress for the first time in early January. And with only one lobbyist — William Sundermeyer out of the group’s Columbus, Ohio, office. But it looks like the filing was just a snafu due to the intricacies of the filing system in the Senate clerk’s office.

“It appears that Mr. Sundermeyer inadvertently filed an LD-2 for AARP,— group spokesman Andrew Nannis said in an e-mail. “Since AARP is already in the LD-2 as a registrant, we are surprised that the system didn’t catch and disapprove this redundancy; in this case it appears that one slipped through.—

Indeed, AARP spent more than $15 million during the first three quarters of 2009, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports.

“Mr. Sundermeyer is not a federal lobbyist but is a state lobbyist in Ohio and is registered as such and AARP is working to fix the error immediately,— Nannis wrote.

Indeed, the error has already been fixed. Sundermeyer’s filing was removed from the Senate lobbying disclosure database this week.

Open for Business. Democrat Andy Rosenberg and Republican Chris Lamond started off the new year with a new firm. The duo, both of whom just departed Ogilvy Government Relations, set up Thorn Run Partners and said they hope to grow the business.

Thorn Run, named for Rosenberg’s West Virginia farm, launched with more than a dozen clients, many of which are health care interests, including Millennium Pharmaceuticals and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association, as well as non-health care clients such as the International Packaged Ice Association and Affiliated Computer Services Inc.

Rosenberg and Lamond’s exit from Ogilvy came on the heels of other departures at that firm, including Stewart Hall, John Green and Jim Baker. Gordon Taylor, a former aide to then-Rep. Chris John (D-La.), has taken over as president of Ogilvy, while Drew Maloney, a longtime Republican lobbyist, is taking over as CEO. Republican Wayne Berman and Democrat Moses Mercado are serving as co-chairmen of Ogilvy, the firm announced in December.

K Street Moves. Eric Schnure is joining Dewey Square Group as a principal in its communications practice. The longtime speechwriter got his start penning for Vice President Al Gore in 1993.

• Amy Noone Frederick, executive vice president of the 60 Plus Association, has taken over the helm of the senior citizen group. Frederick, who has been with the association for the past 10 years, replaces founder Jim Martin, who will remain chairman.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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