K Street Files: Pots o’ Green
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers are counting on some luck of the Irish to move K Streeters to open their pocketbooks Wednesday at St. Patrick’s Day fundraisers.
[IMGCAP(1)]Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is starting the day off early with an 8 a.m. St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. While it’s unlikely that the teetotaler will have any green beer on hand, lobbyists will have an opportunity to partake in some spirits at Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Pa.) St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the Capitol Hill Irish pub the Dubliner.
Democratic Reps. Dale Kildee (Mich.) and Allen Boyd (Fla.) are also getting in on the Irish action with Erin go bragh-themed luncheons. So is New York Democrat Joe Crowley, who is once again hosting his Sushi and Shamrocks Fest, according to a recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising list. Crowley’s fete at the Eris Group’s Hill townhouse comes at a cost of $1,000 for political action committees and $500 for personal checks.
The Clients That Bind. With the venerable Patton Boggs in negotiations to buy the upstart boutique Breaux-Lott Leadership Group, there are at least three clients that the firms won’t have to worry about having any potential conflicts of interest. The two firms both registered in 2009 to work for the Association of American Railroads, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and the National Association of Broadcasters.
Patton Boggs declined to comment, so it’s unclear whether the two firms pitched the clients together as a part of their current strategic relationship, or whether it was a test run for working together before more formal merger talks began. But one thing is certain: Breaux-Lott — named for its founders, former Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) — took in more money from the client trifecta, billing the associations nearly $1.1 million, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports. Patton Boggs reported earning $750,000 from the same trade groups.
On the Town. Lobbyists and Capitol Hill denizens were out in force Thursday night to fete public relations specialist Peter Mirijanian, whose firm marked its 10th anniversary with a party at downtown hot spot Hudson. The A-listers from K Street included Marland Buckner, a one-time Microsoft lobbyist who now owns his own firm, Global Strategic Partners; Todd Flournoy, a former Motion Picture Association of America lobbyist who runs the Flournoy Group; Chris Putala of Putala Strategies and his wife, Allison Kaminsky Putala, of Kaminsky Putala Public Relations; and Marissa Mitrovich of Verizon Wireless.
A Frank Sinatra-esque, Rat Pack-style band serenaded the crowd, which also included former Quinn Gillespie & Associates lobbyist Jeff Connaughton, now chief of staff to Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.); Yelberton Watkins, chief of staff to House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.); and Lyndon Boozer of AT&T. Perhaps the highlight of the night: witnessing Mirijanian belt out tunes with the band.
Foreign Agents Terminated. International Government Relations Group just five months ago signed up Sheik Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi of the United Arab Emirates as a client. But the lobby shop, headed by former Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Texas), has already filed a termination report with the Justice Department, effective in February.
The firm was hired by the outspoken critic of Iran to “help develop a positive relationship” with the United States. Al-Qasimi is the eldest son of Sheik Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi, the current ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. In addition to the initial $50,000 payment, IGR was supposed to be on a $30,000 monthly retainer through this month.
Lobbyists Dallas Sweezy, Jeffrey Taylor, Michael McSherry, Paul Sweet, Jesse Appleton and Sandlin had all be registered to work on behalf of al-Qasimi.
Sandlin did not respond to an e-mail and call for comment.
Peter Ragone, a spokesman for al-Qasimi, said IGR terminated its lobbying activity with a “very successful ending” in the latest phase of the sheik’s efforts in D.C.
“We are entering the next phase of the effort, and we are in the process of considering what kind of representation we will need moving forward,” Ragone said. This isn’t the first time that al-Qasimi has dropped his lobbying team. Since 2008, BKSH & Associates Worldwide, now called Prime Policy Group, had been registered to lobby for al-Qasimi. The firm reported collecting more than $150,000 from the client during the first half of 2009, but after President Barack Obama was elected, the client opted to hire the more left-leaning IGR. Al-Qasimi also paid California Strategies $111,500 for six months of work.
K Street Moves. The Retired Military Officers Association, a group made up of former military officers who are now running their own companies, has tapped Roger Blunt, a retired Army Reserve major general, as its president. Blunt is also chairman of the board and president of Essex Construction in Upper Marlboro, Md.
Gwen Mellor, Melissa Merz and Jennifer Bowman have joined the Podesta Group. Democratic strategist Mellor will focus on financial services and technology issues, while Merz, a former communications director to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), will do public relations and government outreach campaigns. Bowman is working with the firm’s health care clients.
Submit K Street Files tips