K Street Files: O Captain, My Captain Takes Beer Lobby Helm

Posted July 13, 2010 at 4:51pm

After a nearly six-month search, the Beer Institute has named Capt. Joe McClain as its new president, replacing the late Jeff Becker, who led the organization for 11 years. McClain, who has never lobbied in the private sector, will take the helm of the trade association, which represents companies that produce and import more than 90 percent of the beer sold in the United States, later this summer.

A 29-year veteran, McClain has served as director of the Navy Liaison Office to the House since 2007. In that role, McClain has been responsible for the Navy’s legislative initiatives.

“We have found the right leader to take the Beer Institute to the next level,” Dave Peacock, Anheuser-Busch president and incoming chairman of the Beer Institute Board, said in a statement. “Joe is simply the right man for the job. He has the strategic vision and leadership we need to steward the Beer Institute toward success on today’s critical issues — and those of tomorrow.”

Political Power

While the Service Employees International Union plans a massive campaign effort this fall, not all races will be treated equally. The union, with a political budget of $44 million, plans to play in about a dozen Senate races. But the union will invest big sums in expensive television advertising in less than half.

The SEIU has already run TV ads in support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has a tough race against Republican Sharron Angle, and Democrat Robin Carnahan in Missouri, who is running against GOP Rep. Roy Blunt.

The union has not revealed where else it will be active, but close Senate races in California, where Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer faces businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and Illinois, where Democrat Alexi Giannoulias faces GOP Rep. Mark Kirk, are on the radar, SEIU spokesman Mark McCullough said.

In some states, SEIU efforts will largely consist of knocking on doors and calling voters. The union is also targeting 15 House races for paid media as well as a number of gubernatorial races.

Footing the Energy Bill

Common Cause estimates that energy companies have spent $3.2 million a day on lobbying during the past decade, according to a report released Tuesday.

The ethics watchdog says oil companies, utilities, mining conglomerates and garbage enterprises, which harvest methane gas from their trash heaps, are “pumping billions of dollars into the nation’s political system to help maintain U.S. dependence on their products,” according to a statement.

Since 2000, the total price tag for lobbying expenditures by the firms: $2.6 billion.

“No one would invest that kind of money into our government and politics without expecting something in return,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar said. “But with oil coating the Gulf of Mexico, it has never been clearer that the industry’s profits are coming at the nation’s cost.”

Calling Central Casting

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) is close to becoming the next head of the Motion Picture Association of America. Kerrey told radio host Don Imus on Tuesday morning, “We’re, I would say, in the final stages of negotiating.”

“Deals and a contract,” Kerrey said of what was still being determined. “Been through that before, so … if nothing breaks down in that conversation, I expect to take the job.”

Kerrey would succeed former Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), who left the MPAA earlier this year for Refugees International. Kerrey, a former governor of Nebraska, has also been under consideration to fill the top slot at the American Council of Life Insurers. More recently, Kerrey had a tumultuous run as president of the New School in New York.

K Street Moves

• The American Continental Group has added Trista Wendell Roehl to its advocacy team. Most recently, Roehl was the public policy manager at the information technology trade association CompTIA. Before that, Roehl worked for several House Members, including Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.).

“We’re excited to have Trista join the ACG team,” David Urban, president of ACG’s advocacy group, said in a statement.

• The American Frozen Food Institute is thawing a pair of new staffers. Corey Henry and Jane Pritchett have joined the group. Henry signs on as vice president of communications, while Pritchett will serve as manager of accounting. Before joining the AFFI, Henry served as vice president of grass-roots advocacy at the National Mining Association and had been director of public affairs for the Fertilizer Institute. Pritchett previously worked at the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Matthew Murray and Bennett Roth contributed to this report.

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