Joe Donnelly

Facebook posts biggest quarterly lobby tab, as business, health interests dominate K Street
Impeachment is not slowing down lobbying efforts

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2018. Facebook spent a record amount on lobbying this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Facebook is on pace to spend more on federal lobbying this year than ever before, according to public disclosures out this week, as the social media giant’s CEO prepares to testify Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

The company — at the center of debates over the spread of false information, data privacy and others — spent $12.3 million to lobby the federal government in the first nine months of the year. In 2018, Facebook shelled out $12.6 million for 12 months of lobbying.

The three places where senators can ‘actually’ talk
Sen. Chris Coons’ favorite places to reach across the aisle

From left, Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D.N.Y., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Coons, D-Del., share a laugh after a markup hearing on judicial nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“We’re real people. We’re not just two-dimensional targets,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told a lecture hall of law students at Notre Dame last week.Flanked by former Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Coons talked about the hyperpartisan environment on Capitol Hill and the intention required to cut through it and work. For the Delaware senator, this means talking to his colleagues “in the three settings [he has] found where there [are] no lobbyists, no staff and no press.”

Joking that Flake spent more time in the gym than he did, Coons told the students about the senators-only gym — a place “you can actually chat as you’re working out.” While little information is publicly available about the gym, Roll Call learned more about the facility in 2013 by standing in the hallway outside it for several hours. 

Retiring lawmakers will face tough market on K Street
‘K Street is not hungering for former members,’ senator-turned-lobbyist Norm Coleman says

In most cases, it’s congressional staff members who K Street really clamors for. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street recruiters are poring over the list of 21, and counting, lawmakers planning to exit Congress, but the lobbying sector may offer a shrinking supply of big-money gigs heading into the 2020 elections. 

As more House members and senators consider making their escape from Capitol Hill, the realities of the K Street economy and the well-worn revolving door will be among their considerations, say insiders at lobbying firms and downtown headhunters.

How recent House retirements change the battleground in Texas and Michigan
More members will follow Olson and Mitchell and forego 2020 if historical trends hold

Texas Rep. Pete Olson of Texas will not run for another term in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Reps. Pete Olson of Texas and Paul Mitchell of Michigan recently announced they will not seek reelection, but how much do their decisions affect the fight for the House majority? Open seats are usually more vulnerable than districts where an incumbent is seeking another term, but these two retirements aren’t political earthquakes.

First, we are still well below the historical average for retirements, so there will be plenty more of these stories to come.

‘Extremists’ in Virginia candidate’s video include Democrats and fellow Republicans
Afghanistan veteran vying to challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton swipes at McConnell, King, Meadows

Rob Jones’ video announcing his campaign for Virginia’s 10th District brands both Democrats and a few fellow Republicans, including Iowa Rep. Steve King, as ‘extremists.’ (Screenshot/YouTube/Rob Jones for Congress)

It’s no surprise that a Republican congressional candidate used Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a campaign video. But including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and two other GOP House members as targets for criticism is a novel approach for a Republican candidate.

GOP strategists knew they needed an atypical candidate to have any chance of recapturing Virginia’s 10th District. As a double amputee Marines Corps veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Rob Jones fits that bill.

Amazon, Facebook up their K Street spending; other players dip

Facebook spent the most in its history on lobbying in this year’s second quarter. Above, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House hearing in April of last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tech powerhouses Facebook and Amazon spent the most in their histories on lobbying in this year’s second quarter, propelling them into the top tier of K Street spenders, while other big players reported a decline in their lobbying investment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long the dominant big spender, continued its reign, despite recent turmoil in staffing and a leadership change that has raised questions about the organization’s future. The chamber, drug industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and Northrop Grumman reported a dip in spending in the second quarter when compared with the first three months of the year, according to just filed lobbying reports.

They left Congress. Where are they now?
Ex-members are ‘recovering,’ ‘diving back into reality-land’ after 115th Congress

(Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan A. Costello, a 42-year-old Pennsylvania Republican who retired after the 115th Congress following a court-ordered redistricting that made reelection difficult, does “a lot of Legos” now with his two children, ages 2 and 5.

Luis V. Gutiérrez, an Illinois Democrat who stepped down after 13 terms, is learning to swim and play the guitar, and hopes to be able to perform a Beatles song by Christmas.

Brooks wants more Republican women to run in 2020 — even if she won’t
NRCC recruitment chair says she’ll have more time now to recruit and mentor candidates

Rep. Susan Brooks, one of 13 GOP women in the House, is not running for re-election in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The party that’s already lacking in women in the House is losing a giant in Indiana Republican Susan W. Brooks, who announced her retirement Friday.

One of just 13 women in the GOP conference, the four-term lawmaker had been heavily involved in recruiting and mentoring Republican women well before she was named recruitment chair this cycle for the National Republican Congressional Committee, a role she’ll keep despite not seeking re-election in 2020

Ratings change: Brooks retirement makes Indiana 5th less safe for GOP
Inside Elections downgrades seat from Solid to Likely Republican

The announced retirement of Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., makes her seat harder for Republicans to defend in 2020 according to Inside Elections’ Nathan L. Gonzales. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana announced she will not seek re-election, creating a potential open-seat headache for Republicans in Indiana’s 5th District. The congresswoman won re-election to a fourth term in 2018 in the central Indiana district with 57 percent, but the district shifted between the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.

Now-Utah Sen. Mitt Romney won the 5th District 58-41 percent over President Barack Obama in 2012, but Donald Trump carried it more narrowly 53-41 percent over Hillary Clinton in 2016, fueling Democratic optimism even before Brooks’ announcement. Democratic strategists have also been excited about former state Rep. Christina Hale getting into the race. She ran for lieutenant governor on a ticket with John Gregg in 2016, losing by 7 points in the 5th District.

Susan Brooks won’t seek a fifth term, opening up targeted Indiana seat
GOP congresswoman will stay on as recruitment chair for the NRCC for 2020

Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-Ind., has decided not to seek another term in the House in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Susan W. Brooks — one of just 13 Republican women in the House — is not running for re-election in Indiana’s 5th District, a Democrat target in 2020.

“It’s a very, very personal decision — not really a political decision, as odd as that may sound,” Brooks told CQ Roll Call on Friday morning. She solidified her decision after spending time at the end of May in Alaska with her son, who recently moved there to teach.