Crowley’s loss ripples through K Street

With David Beavers, Garrett Ross and Aaron Lorenzo

CROWLEY’S LOSS RIPPLES THROUGH K STREET: The upset loss of Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the No. 4 Democrat in the House, to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the primary on Tuesday is being felt on K Street this morning. “For me, personally, it’s losing a mentor and a best friend,” said Mervyn Jones, a lobbyist at Pine Street Strategies and a former Crowley staffer. Crowley had a great relationship with K Street, Jones said, and had a reputation for being upfront with lobbyists. “He would just tell you flat out why he wouldn’t be able to support what you were lobbying for,” Jones said.

— There are a number of former Crowley staffers downtown, the most prominent of whom might be Chris McCannell, a former chief of staff to Crowley who now represents clients including Paypal and the U.S. Continue reading “Crowley’s loss ripples through K Street”

Crowley’s loss ripples through K Street

With David Beavers, Garrett Ross and Aaron Lorenzo

CROWLEY’S LOSS RIPPLES THROUGH K STREET: The upset loss of Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the No. 4 Democrat in the House, to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the primary on Tuesday is being felt on K Street this morning. “For me, personally, it’s losing a mentor and a best friend,” said Mervyn Jones, a lobbyist at Pine Street Strategies and a former Crowley staffer. Crowley had a great relationship with K Street, Jones said, and had a reputation for being upfront with lobbyists. “He would just tell you flat out why he wouldn’t be able to support what you were lobbying for,” Jones said.

— There are a number of former Crowley staffers downtown, the most prominent of whom might be Chris McCannell, a former chief of staff to Crowley who now represents clients including Paypal and the U.S. Continue reading “Crowley’s loss ripples through K Street”

More details on Manafort’s ‘Hapsburg group’

With Daniel Lippman and Garrett Ross

MORE DETAILS ON MANAFORT’S ‘HAPSBURG GROUP’: We reported earlier this month that a document released as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation shed new light on the former European politicians Paul Manafort considered recruiting as part of the “Hapsburg group.” Mueller has accused Manafort of violating foreign lobbying law by orchestrating the group’s lobbying efforts in the U.S. without registering as a foreign agent. The document, a 2012 memo written by former journalist Alan Friedman and addressed to Manafort, identified eight politicians that Friedman and Alfred Gusenbauer, a former Austrian chancellor, proposed recruiting to lobby.

— Only one of those politicians responded to requests for comment from POLITICO at the time. But we heard from another one, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, a former Polish president, late last week. He said he’d never heard of the Hapsburg group. Kwaśniewski said he Continue reading “More details on Manafort’s ‘Hapsburg group’”

Who lobbied on the AT&T-Time Warner merger

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

WHO LOBBIED ON THE AT&T-TIME WARNER MERGER: A federal judge will decide this afternoon whether to approve AT&T’s bid to merge with Time Warner. AT&T spent $4.1 million in the first quarter on lobbying. Mercury Strategies, Capitol City Group, Clyburn Consulting, Ogilvy Government Relations, Roberti Global, Crossroads Strategies, Prime Policy Group, TCH Group and Fidelis Government Relations are among the firms working on the merger for the telecommunications giant.

— If the court rules in favor of AT&T, that could drive up business for K Street from other companies seeking to merge, Subject Matter’s Steve Elmendorf told PI. “DOJ will have just lost trying to stop a deal, so people will feel more optimistic about putting together new opportunities, and new opportunities will lead to more business,” Elmendorf said. But should the court rule Continue reading “Who lobbied on the AT&T-Time Warner merger”

Trump moves on steel, aluminum tariffs despite lobbying efforts

With David Beavers, Garrett Ross and Daniel Lippman

TRUMP MOVES ON STEEL, ALUMINUM TARIFFS DESPITE LOBBYING EFFORTS: President Donald Trump’s move today to tax steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union — after granting them a temporary reprieve a month ago — is a setback for the lobbyists hired to stop the administration from doing so. As PI has previously reported, companies have rushed to hire lobbyists in recent months to advocate on the steel and aluminum tariffs. Beck Aluminum International, for instance, an Ohio aluminum distributor, hired Squire Patton Boggs last month to lobby on the sanctions. Fujifilm Holdings hired David Wilkins, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada, and one of his colleagues at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough to lobby on the issue as well. But the administration has proved impervious so far to appeals not to tax imports from Continue reading “Trump moves on steel, aluminum tariffs despite lobbying efforts”

Bolton relied on ex-lobbyist as he staffed NSC

As he prepared to start his job as Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton relied on the advice of a longtime colleague — Matthew Freedman, a consultant and former lobbyist with decades of experience in foreign policy.

But while Freedman may have been a trusted hand, he also came on with a checkered past, having worked for now-indicted Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and more recently getting fired from the Trump transition team for reportedly using his global consulting firm email for transition work.

Still, Bolton leaned on Freedman earlier this year, and multiple people familiar with the matter said Freedman played a central role meeting with potential job applicants for the National Security Council before Bolton officially started.

Some former foreign policy officials say such an arrangement is disturbing, and that an outsider — with his own global consulting business — should not have been shaping the agency Continue reading “Bolton relied on ex-lobbyist as he staffed NSC”

Manchester hires lobbyist to salvage ambassador nomination

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

BILLIONAIRE HIRES LOBBYIST TO SALVAGE AMBASSADOR NOMINATION: “Papa” Doug Manchester apparently really wants to be an ambassador. President Donald Trump nominated Manchester, a San Diego real estate developer who once owned The San Diego Union-Tribune and is worth an estimated $1 billion, last year to be the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. But the Senate never confirmed him, and his prospects took a blow in February, when The Washington Post reported that Manchester “employed an unconventional, anachronistic management style that upended the newspaper’s culture and made many female workers uncomfortable” when he owned the Union-Tribune. Manchester emailed Donald Trump Jr., Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and several White House and State Department officials ahead of the publication of the Post story to apologize, according to the Union-Tribune.

— A publication called Bahamas Press reported last month that Trump may nominate William Continue reading “Manchester hires lobbyist to salvage ambassador nomination”

More details on Podesta Group’s final days

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

MORE DETAILS OF THE PODESTA GROUP’S LAST DAYS: A new disclosure filed with the Justice Department sheds a little more light on what happened at the Podesta Group last fall as the firm came apart. The disclosure, which details the firm’s foreign lobbying work in the last six months of 2017, was filed last week, more than three months after it was due. (Foreign agents are required to file reports on their activities every six months under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.) A spokeswoman for Tony Podesta declined to say why the disclosure was filed late.

— The disclosure shows that lobbying for the Podesta Group’s foreign clients ground to a halt around the time Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted in October. (Tony Podesta announced he was stepping down hours after the release of the indictment, which accused Manafort and Gates Continue reading “More details on Podesta Group’s final days”

Pataki will lobby on tariffs

With David Beavers, Garrett Ross and Daniel Lippman

GEORGE PATAKI WILL LOBBY ON TARIFFS: Former New York Gov. George Pataki has registered to lobby on President Donald Trump’s aluminum and steel tariffs for Borusan Mannesmann, a Turkish firm that describes itself as “Europe’s leading steel pipe manufacturer.” (The registration filing lists the address of the company’s U.S. office in Houston.) Borusan Mannesmann appears to be the second client for which Pataki has registered to lobby; he also registered in March to represent White Birch Paper on trade issues, although no one seems to have noticed at the time (including us).

— Pataki registered to lobby through his firm, the Pataki-Cahill Group. He didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday morning. But in the past, Pataki has been critical of former officeholders who lobby. “Right now there are over 400 former members of the Continue reading “Pataki will lobby on tariffs”

How John Bolton’s super PAC helped him get ahead in Trump’s Washington

The John Bolton Super PAC ran ads, doled out campaign contributions and endorsed candidates for five years, all in the name of helping elect defense hawks to office.

But perhaps its greatest purpose was reflected in its name: It served as a hype machine for Bolton, boosting his image and political views.

Bolton raised more than $9 million during the 2016 elections and spent $2.6 million on television and other paid media that sometimes promoted the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations’ brand as much as — if not more than — the candidates themselves. In one advertisement that aired in Nevada, Bolton issued stern warnings about President Barack Obama’s Iran deal and the threat from Islamic State militants. He mentioned the candidate he was promoting, Republican Joe Heck, 27 seconds into the 30-second ad.

During election season, Bolton — who weighed running for president more than Continue reading “How John Bolton’s super PAC helped him get ahead in Trump’s Washington”

Inside the lobbying campaign that caught Mueller’s attention

The lobbyists hired by Paul Manafort launched a lobbying blitz barely a week after the Senate began weighing a resolution to publicly condemn the man who was effectively their client, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, for throwing a political opponent in jail.

A lobbyist for one prominent Washington firm, the Podesta Group, emailed the staff of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) shortly after he introduced a resolution condemning Yanukovych in May 2012, and a lobbyist for another firm, Mercury, met with one of his aides the next month. They fought for months to kill the resolution — or at least delay it until Ukraine held parliamentary elections that fall.

The lobbying barrage failed. In September 2012, a month before the elections, the Senate passed a measure saying the jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko “threatens to jeopardize ties between the United States and Ukraine” and urging Yanukovych to release her.

Continue reading “Inside the lobbying campaign that caught Mueller’s attention”

Minimum wage largely unenforced

As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor.

That’s the conclusion of a nine-month investigation by POLITICO, which found that workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 additional states have fewer than 10 investigators. Given the widespread nature of wage theft and the dearth of resources to combat it, most cases go unreported. Thus, an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages goes instead into the pockets of shady bosses.

But even those workers who are able to brave the system and win — to get states to order their bosses to pay them Continue reading “Minimum wage largely unenforced”

Both parties face dissent over handling of #MeToo

As they prepare for the 2018 elections, both Democrats and Republicans are dealing with dissenting opinions in their ranks over their handling of candidates or officeholders facing sexual harassment allegations.

While most Republican officeholders interviewed by POLITICO over the past two weeks expressed the view that voters, not lawmakers, should decide whether a lawmaker accused of sexual harassment loses his or her seat, the GOP lawmakers charged with increasing their party’s majorities in Congress say they’re ready to take action if credible allegations against a candidate surface in the future.

Meanwhile, Democrats, who moved quickly to withdraw support for Sen. Al Franken, Rep. John Conyers and Kansas congressional candidate Andrea Ramsey based on allegations from many years earlier, are facing some complaints over what some perceive to be a rush to judgment.

“I’m very worried. I’m not old, but I’m seasoned, and [the] pendulum’s swinging too far,” said Rep. Debbie Continue reading “Both parties face dissent over handling of #MeToo”

White House considering Puzder for administration job

Spotted at the White House recently: Andy Puzder, Trump’s first pick for labor secretary, who dropped out of the confirmation process in February amid allegations of domestic abuse.

Now the White House is considering Puzder for a yet-to-be-determined slot in the administration, according to three people close to the White House.

It’s not clear what role Puzder could take, these people said, though it would have to be a non-Senate-confirmed slot given his withdrawal as labor secretary. Puzder, who denied the abuse allegations made by his ex-wife in a 1990 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” also acknowledged employing an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper.

But Puzder, the former chief executive of CKE Restaurants — the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s — is generally well-liked inside the West Wing and has maintained a strong relationship with the president, forged through their shared experiences as businessmen.

As senior advisers Continue reading “White House considering Puzder for administration job”

House office silently helps members resolve harassment claims

Members of Congress and government watchdogs are questioning why a little-known House agency used taxpayer funds to investigate a sexual harassment complaint involving Rep. Blake Farenthold’s office last year, and then failed to make the results public.

The Office of House Employment Counsel operates under the auspices of the House clerk’s office and advises members on employment practices. It also facilitates investigations into employee complaints, a spokesperson confirmed to POLTICO. But what happens afterward is murky: The office appears to serve House members and their offices — not necessarily the employees — and makes no public accounting of its determinations or its expenditures.

A spokesperson for the office declined to say how many sexual harassment complaints or other investigations it’s handled in recent years, citing attorney-client privilege. It also declined to reveal the firms that it hired or the amount paid to them. In addition, both Democratic and Republican House Continue reading “House office silently helps members resolve harassment claims”

Trump (finally!) reaches million-jobs mark

President Donald Trump’s claim that he’s created a million jobs finally came true — months after he first made it.

"We’ve added … more than a million private sector jobs," Trump said on June 1, when the Labor Department’s tally was about 600,000. On Monday White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "We’ve created over a million new jobs since [Trump] took office," when DOL’s tally was 863,000.

With the Labor Department reporting Friday that the economy added 209,000 jobs in July, Trump can finally say, truthfully, that he’s created more than a million jobs since entering office. Trump tweeted shortly after the report’s release: "Excellent Jobs Numbers just released – and I have only just begun. Many job stifling regulations continue to fall. Movement back to USA!"

July’s jobs number was a decrease from June, when the economy added 231,000 jobs. But unemployment ticked down to 4. Continue reading “Trump (finally!) reaches million-jobs mark”

Will the immigration bill boost economic growth?

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said Wednesday that a bill to halve legal immigration would "add to the economy" — a proposition rejected by most economists.

"This is a historic moment," Miller said at a White House briefing on the bill, which President Donald Trump endorsed earlier Wednesday. He said it was "the biggest proposed change that would take place in 50 years," an apparent reference to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which greatly expanded U.S. immigration, especially from non-European countries.

But economists consistently say that economic growth depends on expanding the workforce, not shrinking it, as the RAISE Act (S. 354 (115)) would do. The bill, which faces steep opposition from Senate Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans, was sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R.-Ark.) and David Perdue (R.-Ga.).

Economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is an increase in the quantity of Continue reading “Will the immigration bill boost economic growth?”

Will the immigration bill boost economic growth?

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said Wednesday that a bill to halve legal immigration would "add to the economy" — a proposition rejected by most economists.

"This is a historic moment," Miller said at a White House briefing on the bill, which President Donald Trump endorsed earlier Wednesday. He said it was "the biggest proposed change that would take place in 50 years," an apparent reference to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which greatly expanded U.S. immigration, especially from non-European countries.

But economists consistently say that economic growth depends on expanding the workforce, not shrinking it, as the RAISE Act (S. 354 (115)) would do. The bill, which faces steep opposition from Senate Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans, was sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R.-Ark.) and David Perdue (R.-Ga.).

Economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is an increase in the quantity of Continue reading “Will the immigration bill boost economic growth?”

Will the immigration bill boost economic growth?

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said Wednesday that a bill to halve legal immigration would "add to the economy" — a proposition rejected by most economists.

"This is a historic moment," Miller said at a White House briefing on the bill, which President Donald Trump endorsed earlier Wednesday. He said it was "the biggest proposed change that would take place in 50 years," an apparent reference to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which greatly expanded U.S. immigration, especially from non-European countries.

But economists consistently say that economic growth depends on expanding the workforce, not shrinking it, as the RAISE Act (S. 354 (115)) would do. The bill, which faces steep opposition from Senate Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans, was sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R.-Ark.) and David Perdue (R.-Ga.).

Economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is an increase in the quantity of Continue reading “Will the immigration bill boost economic growth?”

Justice Department switches sides in Supreme Court case

The DOJ said Friday that it will switch sides in a Supreme Court case, dropping its previous support for workers to throw its weight behind management.

The case, NLRB v. Murphy Oil, addresses whether an employment contract that requires the employee to waive his or her right to bring a class-action lawsuit against the employer violates the National Labor Relations Act.

Last year, the Obama DOJ weighed in on the side of the National Labor Relations Board, which had ruled that such arbitration agreements violated federal labor law. Now DOJ will weigh in on the side of Murphy Oil, which argued that they do not.

In its new amicus brief , the DOJ argues that “nothing in the NLRA’s legislative history indicates that Congress intended to bar enforcement of arbitration agreements like those at issue here.” The DOJ acknowledged that it previously supported the NLRB’s position, but that Continue reading “Justice Department switches sides in Supreme Court case”