Cove Strategies signs 2

With David Beavers and Daniel Lippman

COVE STRATEGIES SIGNS TWO: Cove Strategies has added two new clients to its roster: Ligado Networks and Samsung. Matt Schlapp will lobby for Ligado on wireless spectrum usage, among other issues; Stephen Replogle will lobby for Samsung on trade, among other issues. Cove has seen business take off during President Donald Trump’s administration. The firm brought in $530,000 in lobbying revenue in the first half of this year, compared with $320,000 in the first half of 2016. Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes Schlapp, who co-founded the firm with him, now works in the White House as director of strategic communications. Cove’s other clients include Comcast, Oracle, Verizon and Walmart.

MORE TARIFFS, MORE PROBLEMS: More of Trump’s retaliatory tariffs against China are set to take effect today, to the dismay of many trade associations and coalitions in town. In a written statement, Brian Continue reading “Cove Strategies signs 2”

Manafort’s pro-Ukraine lobbying campaign reached Obama, Biden

Paul Manafort’s pro-Ukraine campaign reached the top of the White House, with one of the members of his lobbying effort meeting President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in 2013, according to new court documents released Friday.

A member of the so-called Hapsburg Group — a group of former European politicians Manafort convened as part of his lobbying effort in support of Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych — came with a foreign prime minister on May 16, 2013 to meet with Obama and Biden, “as well as senior United States officials in the executive and legislative branches,” according to the court documents.

Alan Friedman, a former journalist based in Europe who helped Manafort launch the group, told Manafort after the meeting that the member of Hapsburg Group “delivered the message of not letting ‘Russians steal Ukraine from the West,’” prosecutors say.

Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, pleaded guilty Continue reading “Manafort’s pro-Ukraine lobbying campaign reached Obama, Biden”

Ogilvy nabs Loews lobbyist

FIRST IN PI — OGILVY NABS LOEWS LOBBYIST: Amy Andryszak is joining Ogilvy Government Relations as a principal. She was previously an-house lobbyist for Loews and before that lobbied for AT&T and Cingular Wireless. She’s also a former chief of staff to former Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), who’s now the chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. She’s bringing Loews to the firm as a client and will continue to lobby for the hotel corporation as well as its subsidiaries, Loews Hotels and Resorts and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners. Loews recently parted ways with several other lobbying firms, including Cassidy & Associates, CGCN Group and Prime Policy Group, according to disclosure filings.

MILLER STRATEGIES HIRES WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS: Jeff Miller, a former top adviser to Energy Secretary Rick Perry as he was preparing to run for president, is expanding Miller Strategies, the Washington lobbying firm he Continue reading “Ogilvy nabs Loews lobbyist”

Fighting against Trump’s trade war from within

As a candidate, Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rattling manufacturers who preach free trade. Shortly after the election, Trump announced a 35 percent tax on companies that moved jobs overseas. And now, Trump shows little sign of backing off an escalating trade war, using the blunt instrument of tariffs to bludgeon China and other countries while U.S. manufacturers seek cover from foreign retaliation.

But as other executives and trade associations take a public stand against the president, the National Association of Manufacturers and its president, Jay Timmons, have struck a close — if still uneasy — partnership with Trump, betting it’s wiser to be on the inside than out as the administration wages a risky fight with the global business community.

“You can scream and yell all you want. I’ve never particularly found that to be effective,” Timmons said in an interview, when asked about corporate pushback Continue reading “Fighting against Trump’s trade war from within”

Democratic senators ask DOJ to examine Giuliani’s foreign work

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and six fellow Democratic senators asked the Justice Department on Wednesday to review whether President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is complying with federal foreign lobbying laws.

“We request that the Department of Justice review whether he is in compliance with [the Foreign Agents Registration Act], including whether he has an obligation to register any undisclosed political activities, has any delinquent filings, or has any deficiencies or abnormalities in his registration statements,” the senators wrote in the letter, addressed to Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers.

In addition to Udall, the letter was signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

In response to the letter, Giuliani told POLITICO in a text "nothing done to influence U.S. government ever. Do they Continue reading “Democratic senators ask DOJ to examine Giuliani’s foreign work”

List offers glimpse of looming Manafort trial

A newly released list of people “associated with” the upcoming trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort offers a fresh indication of how broadly the legal showdown could sweep through Washington’s law and lobbying establishment.

The roster, released on Wednesday as part of a questionnaire distributed to potential jurors in the case, includes witnesses likely to testify at Manafort’s trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

However, a top prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller cautioned at a court hearing that the list includes many people who are not expected to testify, but whose names may come up in documents or in other witnesses’ testimony.

Many of the figures on the list are connected to law, lobbying or public relations firms that worked on campaigns Manafort organized to promote the interests of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, his Party of Continue reading “List offers glimpse of looming Manafort trial”

Trump inaugural fundraiser now lobbying on pensions

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

TRUMP INAUGURATION FUNDRAISER NOW LOBBYING ON PENSIONS: Roy Bailey, a Texas investor and Republican fundraiser who served as a finance co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, has quietly started lobbying in recent months. Bailey signed his first lobbying client, Intrexon, a Maryland biotechnology company, in October, according to disclosure filings. He’s lobbied the White House, Vice President Mike Pence’s office, the Agriculture Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Commerce Department, the Energy Department, EPA and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation on Intrexon’s behalf.

— Intrexon, in return, has paid Bailey $60,000 through his firm, Bailey Strategic Advisors. He’s lobbied on a variety of issues for Intrexon, including natural gas, the importation of genetically modified food and a “solution to eradicate virus transmitted by mosquitos.”

— Bailey signed his second client, Ryan LLC, a Dallas Continue reading “Trump inaugural fundraiser now lobbying on pensions”

‘It’s a significant shift in our thinking’: Business takes fresh look at Democrats

Business groups, at war with President Donald Trump over trade and immigration, say they’re taking steps to rebuild the political center — including taking fresh looks at moderate Democrats.

The American Bankers Association this month began airing ads in support of candidates for the first time, including Democrats Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Rep. Lou Correa of California. The International Franchise Association has more than doubled its support to Democrats this cycle, with 27 percent of its donations going to centrists in the party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which leans heavily Republican, endorsed Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey over Republican John McCann, who has the support of former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka.

Even the powerful Koch network appears to be withholding some support for the Republican Party, if not outright supporting Democrats. Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said at a donor retreat Monday that Continue reading “‘It’s a significant shift in our thinking’: Business takes fresh look at Democrats”

Why Bennet and Sarbanes introduced a lobbying reform bill

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

WHY BENNET AND SARBANES INTRODUCED A LOBBYING REFORM BILL: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to beef up lobbying disclosure laws. The bill, known as the Curtailing Lobbyists and Empowering Americans for a New Politics Act, would scrap the “20 percent threshold,” under which lobbyists are only required to register if they make at least two lobbying contacts on behalf of a particular client and spend at least 20 percent of the time working for the client on lobbying. It would also require “strategic advisers” who help clients navigate government without lobbying, such as Michael Cohen, to register and would close the Foreign Agents Registration Act loophole, which allows lobbyists for certain foreign interests to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act and avoid FARA’s more stringent disclosure requirements.

— The National Institute for Lobbying Continue reading “Why Bennet and Sarbanes introduced a lobbying reform bill”

Rubio bashes ZTE lobbying

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

RUBIO BASHES ZTE LOBBYING: PI reported on Monday that the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE paid Hogan Lovells nearly $1.3 million to lobby on its behalf in the second quarter — the biggest single lobbying contract of the quarter. ZTE hired Hogan Lovells in April, two days after the Commerce Department banned the company from importing American goods for violating a settlement reached last year in retaliation for ZTE’s flouting of U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The Commerce Department reversed itself last month over objections from some congressional Republicans.

The Washington Post’s “Finance 202” newsletter cited PI’s reporting this morning, which drew a reaction from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “This is how #China influences our government policies,” Rubio tweeted. “They spent a small fortune lobbying congress to drop restrictions on #ZTE & it worked. Long term China is Continue reading “Rubio bashes ZTE lobbying”

Trade helps propel second-quarter business

With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

Here are your Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue rankings for the second quarter of 2018:

TOP FIRMS

  1. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: $9 million (versus $10 million in Q1 2018 and $9.8 million in Q2 2017)
  2. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: $7.2 million (versus $7.2 million in Q1 2018 and $6.9 million in Q2 2017)
  3. BGR Group: $6.8 million (versus $6.9 million in Q1 2018 and $5.7 million in Q2 2017)
  4. Holland & Knight: $6.5 million (versus $6.1 million in Q1 2018 and $5.4 million in Q2 2018)
  5. Squire Patton Boggs: $6.3 million (versus $6.3 million in Q1 2018 and $6.3 million in Q2 2017)
  6. Van Scoyoc Associates: $5.9 million (versus $4 million in Q1 2018 and $4.9 million in Q2 2017)
  7. Cornerstone Government Affairs: $5.3 million (versus $6 Continue reading “Trade helps propel second-quarter business”

Chinese companies absent from D.C. lobbying on trade war

The White House and Beijing may be escalating an increasingly hostile trade war with harsh words and cascading waves of tariffs, but there’s one battlefield where the Chinese aren’t fighting back: Washington.

U.S. and European companies have been in an all-out sprint to hire lobbyists to battle for global free trade ever since President Donald Trump started tearing up treaties and slapping penalties on imports from furniture to auto parts. But even though Chinese firms stand to lose the most from Trump’s aggressive moves, only a handful of the very largest — such as tech giants ZTE and Huawei — have lobbyists on retainer or staff in the U.S.

The reason is largely cultural and historical. Many Chinese firms are partly government-owned, and they’re used to relying on officials in Beijing or their American business partners to fight for their interests. But they could be missing opportunities to Continue reading “Chinese companies absent from D.C. lobbying on trade war”

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”