lobbying

IRS Ruling on Political Donation Reporting Sets Off Campaign Finance Fight
McConnell cheers, but Democrats blast decision, arguing it reduces transparency

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the new IRS policy in a Tuesday morning speech. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Monday’s announcement by the Treasury Department that it will no longer collect information about donors to some political nonprofits was met with applause from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, perhaps the leading advocate for unrestricted campaign donations. At the same time, it ignited a campaign finance fight with the midterm elections less than four months away.

“It’s bad enough to wield government power to chill political speech and invite harassment of citizens — based on what an angry mob might assume their opinions are, based on their private financial records,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor Monday. “It’s even more egregious to pursue that nakedly political goal while calling it ‘good government.’ In this country, good government means protecting citizens’ First Amendment rights to participate in the competition of ideas — not trying to shut down that competition.”

Senate Democrats Target Michael Cohen for ‘Selling Access’ to Trump
Former personal attorney to POTUS is key subject in Mueller investigation

Democratic senators criticized former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen for what one called his “side hustle as influencer-in-chief.” (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images file photo)

Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, is the target of a new report from Democratic senators who on Friday accused him of “selling access” to the White House through a shell company he formed during the 2016 election campaign.

The senators’ report is based on emails they obtained from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, which signed a $1.2 million contract with Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, for “consulting and advisory services.”

Kavanaugh Confirmation Fight Promises to Be Intense — and Expensive
Outside advocacy groups on both sides are already coming out swinging

President Donald Trump nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy at an announcement ceremony in the White House on Monday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Outside advocacy groups began making hefty down payments overnight in the multimillion-dollar fight over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, but the cash is unlikely to determine the fate of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The fierce fundraising appeals and grass-roots mobilization from both sides, including advertising buys in pivotal states, show the high stakes as senators prepare to weigh the potential successor to retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Atypical Lobbying Shop Targets Lawmakers From Poorest Districts
Their idea is to push together the fringes by aligning members from the Freedom Caucus, CBC

Sam Geduldig and Michael Williams are among the lobbyists prodding along an infrastructure bill through a new bipartisan firm. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

An unlikely cast of lobbyists, odd bedfellows even by K Street’s typically bipartisan approach, has spent the past year nurturing a fledgling firm aimed at building coalitions between dyed-in-the-wool conservatives and lefty progressives on Capitol Hill.

The firm, recently christened United By Interest, is so far a commercial flop, if judged solely by the number of clients it has attracted: zero. But in an unusual twist, the lobbyists behind the effort, all of whom have their own separate K Street businesses, have managed to prod along a unique infrastructure bill with support of lawmakers from the conservative Freedom Caucus and the liberal Congressional Black Caucus.

Former Rep. Heck, Who Lobbied for PETA, Kills Zebra on Safari
Heck left Congress after losing to Nevada Sen. Cortez-Masto in 2016

Former Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., posted a picture to Instagram of himself on safari in South Africa next to a dead zebra. (Photo from Instagram)

Former Rep. Joe Heck received criticism this week after he posted a picture on Instagram of himself posing next to a slain zebra with the caption, “Great start to safari — two off my list: Zebra and Black Wildebeast.”

But Heck’s apparent affinity for big-game hunting in South Africa didn’t just upset some in the public.

Ethics Committee to Investigate Schweikert and Chief Over Finances
Arizona Republicans says there was a “clerical screw-up”

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., is facing a House investigation into possible violations of campaign finance and congressional funds laws. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee has established an investigative subcommittee to discover whether Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert and his chief of staff, Oliver Schwab, violated multiple campaign finance and official congressional funds laws.

Committee members unanimously voted to continue the investigation, which Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe will lead.

Senators: Convicted Lobbyists Need to Disclose Their Record
JACK is back, a measure aimed to increase transparency

The conviction of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, center, is attracting attention anew. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Warren Says Democrats Lack Guts to Take on ‘Billionaire Class’
Comes after she criticized other Democrats during Dodd-Frank fight

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner hold a news conference on Thursday to discuss bipartisan action they are taking to put marijuana legislation into the hands of state lawmakers. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized fellow Democrats who voted for interests of the “billionaire class” over those of most Americans.

“Until we have all of the Democrats who are willing to take on the billionaire class, until we have all of the Democrats who are willing to fight for the American people and not for a handful of billionaires and giant corporations, then it’s going to stay an uphill fight,” she said on The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan’s “Deconstructed” podcast released Friday.

Curtailed Recess Puts Summer Fundraising, Lobbying in Flux
Senators may seek new campaign events in D.C. if they will be here anyway

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran’s summer retreat fundraiser is slated for Aug. 12-14. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The official Senate calendar isn’t the only agenda in flux after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would cancel much of the chamber’s cherished summer recess.

The change may also disrupt plans for fundraising events outside Washington — as well as the dockets of lobbyists, who typically take their annual respite along with the congressional recess.

Trade Groups in Turmoil in the Trump Era
Industry associations change dramatically with the times

When Tim Pawlenty announced earlier this year that he was walking away from the Financial Services Roundtable, K Street expected the group to put out a “help wanted” sign. Instead, the membership pushed for consolidation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Pamela Bailey, who heads the Grocery Manufacturers Association, announced in February that she will leave her $3 million-a-year gig, it came as no shock. After all, the lobbying group had in the past year lost some of its biggest members, including candy-maker Mars Inc. and Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest producer of chicken, beef and pork.

The organization is undergoing a “reinvention,” in the words of its spokesman Roger Lowe, and this week tapped Geoff Freeman, who runs the American Gaming Association, as its next CEO. The group will move from its downtown Washington headquarters into a smaller space across the river in the Rosslyn section of Arlington.