FreedomWorks lays off 40 percent of staff
Presented by the Coalition for Medicare Choices
FIRST IN PI — MORE LAYOFFS DOWNTOWN: The conservative grassroots group FreedomWorks laid off 40 percent of its staff on Tuesday. “It’s heartbreaking but we have to learn the lessons from what went wrong in 2022 and we can’t pretend that there weren’t systematic problems to miss that red wave,” the group’s president Adam Brandon told Daniel in an interview. Of their 50 staff, around twenty people were laid off on Tuesday, Brandon said, including executive vice president Noah Wall.
— FreedomWorks’ Regulatory Action Center, which directed conservatives to send comments into the federal regulatory process, was one of the programs hit by the cuts, as were some of their efforts on social media, which Brandon blamed on changes in algorithms. “You’re not getting the same return on those programs” anymore, he said.
— Brandon said the organization will focus more now on building up their “freedom teams,” which teach conservatives across the country how to be effective activists, and its parent activist group, BEST (Building Education for Students Together). Brandon said the organization, which formed in 2004 from merger with Jack Kemp‘s Empower America, has started to bring on new people, including Margaret Iuculano, the founder of Biblical Business Women, who joined in November as chief development officer.
CTIA HIRES WALDEN: The trade association representing the wireless industry has picked up a major new ally on K Street as its recent hiring spree continues. Last month CTIA hired former Rep. Greg Walden, the longtime top Republican on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, to lobby on spectrum issues on the Hill including FCC spectrum auction authority, according to newly filed disclosures.
— FCC’s current spectrum powers, which allow the agency to sell chunks of the wireless spectrum to commercial providers like Verizon and AT&T, are set to lapse tomorrow absent an extension from Congress. Lawmakers are still haggling over the length of a short-term extension, as our John Hendel has reported, and the Hill is eying a broader spectrum package for sometime this year.
— Walden, who landed at Alpine Advisors after leaving office in 2021, is the fourth new hire for CTIA since October. Its other recent hires have included former aides to the new chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s telecom subcommittee and the new ranking member on Senate Commerce.
— CTIA’s hiring spree comes as the trade group, already one of downtown’s top spenders, dropped $13.9 million on lobbying last year, its most ever, according to data from OpenSecrets.
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MUSIC INDUSTRY TEAMS UP TO PUSH TICKETING REFORMS: A coalition of nearly two dozen major record labels, talent and management agencies and entertainment promoters in music — including Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation — has teamed up to press Congress on some of their top priorities for any ticketing reform proposals.
— The group, which calls itself Fans & Artists Insisting on Reforms, also includes Universal Music Group, Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency, WME and the Black Music Action Coalition, and is coalescing behind a roadmap for ticketing reforms made up of five “FAIR Ticketing” principles.
— The coalition’s launch comes a week after a collection of consumer groups announced their own framework for reforms that elevates the ticket buyer’s perspective, and several weeks after Live Nation presented its own reform proposal to lawmakers.
— FAIR Ticketing’s framework overlaps some with the consumer coalition: Both want Congress to mandate all-in pricing across all ticket marketplaces nationwide, and both groups want lawmakers to get more aggressive in bringing the hammer down on ticket bots. But while the consumer group wants ticket buyers to retain flexibility in reselling or transferring tickets, the industry coalition asks that artists control the ticket selling and reselling process.
— A press release announcing the FAIR Ticketing push previews a potential clash over the issue. “Opponents to these common sense reforms have an agenda to continue to keep tickets flowing directly to both scalpers and the secondary market,” the release says. It goes on to deride unnamed “scalper lobbyists” who the coalition says “use terms like ‘fan friendly’ to sound like they’re looking out for consumers.”
— The industry group also wants Congress to ban speculative ticket sales and “other deceptive practices used to sell tickets” and crack down on resale sites that “serve as a safe haven for scalpers.” The coalition is launching with a full-page ad in TheNew York Times tomorrow outlining its principles.
ANNALS OF FUNDRAISING: A trio of Democratic campaign operatives are launching a new firm aimed at moving away from the dramatic online fundraising pleas that have come to dominate small-dollar fundraising but “can risk turning off voters who may not have the same partisan instincts as the average donor, or simply be annoyed by the volume,” POLITICO’s Jessica Piper reports.
— “The new firm, Liftoff Campaigns, is a partnership between Zack Carroll, most recently the campaign manager for Val Demings’ U.S. Senate campaign; Jane Hughes, a veteran of now-Sen. Maggie Hassan’s (D-N.H.) 2016 campaign; and Joshua Karp, a longtime communications professional who consulted for now-Sen. Jon Ossoff’s (D-Ga.) 2020 campaign.”
— “Democratic campaigns have raised record sums online over the last few cycles,” but “the emphasis on raising money can also come at a cost if the tactics that may allow candidates to bring in big bucks are not aligned with those to help them win over voters in their state or district.”
MILLER LAUNCHES VETERANS PRACTICE AT BALLARD: Former House Veterans’ Affairs Chair Jeff Miller is standing up a new practice focused on veterans issues at his new firm Ballard Partners. The practice group will comprise Miller’s former chief of staff, Dan McFaul, and Tola Thompson, whose former boss Al Lawson represented one of the largest veterans populations in the country.
— Former Gov. Ron DeSantis aide Courtney Coppola and Dane Eagle from the firm’s Tallahassee office and Joe Buscaino from the new Los Angeles office, and will also be part of the new practice group, which will work on issues ranging from health care, housing, mental health and suicide prevention.
FLYING IN: The humanitarian group CARE International was on the Hill today to argue for including more than $70 billion in funding for the international affairs budget for fiscal year 2024, and to push for additional policies to help support gender equity, global health programs and funding for frontline health workers. The organization said it was slated to meet with key members on the House and Senate appropriations and foreign relations committees.
F-35 LOBBYING FIGHT HEATS UP: The battle to select a new engine for F-35 fighter jets is heating up once again, per The Wall Street Journal’s Brody Mullins and Ted Mann. “More than a decade ago, engine-maker Pratt & Whitney and its allies in Congress won out over General Electric Co. to be the exclusive supplier for the next-generation fighter. Now GE is once again lobbying Congress to provide billions of dollars to fund an alternative engine it would build, citing what it calls the flaws in Pratt’s engine.”
— “GE’s campaign is a challenge to fellow defense giantRaytheon Technologies Corp., which owns Pratt. Raytheon says developing a new engine could cost a total of $6 billion, a price tag that swells to $40 billion when calculated to include maintenance. Upgrading the Pratt engine would cost about $2.5 billion, according to the company.”
— “The dispute is shaping up to be one of the biggest lobbying contests in Washington this year, when little aside from defense spending bills is expected to move through a bitterly divided Congress. It is also drawing criticism from groups that want to reel in government spending.”
ICYMI — HALPERIN OUT AT NO LABELS: “Mark Halperin, the former top political commentator who was fired from NBC under a cloud of scandal, is leaving his current position as a senior communications adviser to the bipartisan group No Labels,” Daniel reported Tuesday.
— “Halperin had been No Labels’ highest-paid employee after joining the group in 2021. The circumstances of his departure were not immediately clear. Two people familiar with the matter said he was forced out. A statement from No Labels framed the exit more amicably.”
— “‘Mark has been a valued member of the No Labels team these last two years. As we enter a new phase, Mark will be leaving us to focus on his other projects,’ the statement read. ‘We will miss Mark, wish him well in whatever comes next, and appreciate the many contributions he has made to our movement.’”
SPOTTED at a congressional reception on Tuesday as part of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association’s fly-in, per a tipster: Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Reps. Max Miller (R-Ohio), Chuck Edwards (R-N.C.), Anna Luna (R-Fla.), Young Kim (R-Calif.), Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Russell Fry (R-S.C.), Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).
— And at an International Women’s Day reception on Tuesday night at the French ambassador’s residence hosted by the French Embassy and nonprofit GlobalWIN, per a PI tipster: French ambassador Laurent Bili, Helen Milby of NewDEAL, Tammy Haddad of Haddad Media, Dan Koh, John McCarthy, Reema Dodin, Gabe Amo, Mariana Adame and Maya James of the White House, Lauren Culbertson Grieco of Twitter, Marissa Mitrovich of the Fiber Broadband Association, Fran Lanzone of Amazon Web Services, Pascal Confavreux of the French Embassy, Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners, Ali Rubin of AMR Strategies, Ayodele Okeowo of the Commerce Department, Stewart Jones Hannahan of Shopify, Niccara Campbell of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and Kevin Chaffee of Qorvis.
— Christina Lotspike will be director of government relations at Procter & Gamble. She most recently was senior manager of federal affairs at Instacart, and is a U.S. Chamber of Commerce alum.
— Former Virginia Deputy Attorney General Stephen Cobb has joined the state attorneys general group at Cozen O’Connor. He was most recently a partner at Holland & Knight.
— Ariel Judah is now director of U.S. government affairs at Red Bull North America. She most recently was director of federal relations for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
— The Center for Justice Innovation is adding Theron Pride as managing director of national initiatives and research, Dan Lavoie as chief external affairs officer and Sherene Crawford as chief of staff to the executive director.
— Kyle Scott is now grants manager at Connector Labs. He most recently ran for treasurer of Harris County, Texas.
— Reid Smith is now vice president of foreign policy at Stand Together. He was previously deputy leader for foreign policy at the group.
— The National Alliance on Mental Illness has added Anita Burgos as director of public policy, Stephanie Livingston as senior manager of advocacy and Connie Miller as manager of advocacy campaigns. Burgos was most recently with Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Livingston was most recently with the Arthritis Foundation and Miller was previously with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. NAMI also promoted Shannon Scully to director of justice policy and initiatives.
— Shane Skelton, a former energy aide to Paul Ryan, has left Boundary Stone Partners to start a new clean energy consulting and advocacy firm, Mission Strategies, per Morning Energy. Skelton co-founded the company with Patrick Currier, who was counsel for the Energy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee under former Republican Rep. Fred Upton, and Liz Ramsay Dalton, who held several roles in the Obama administration DOE and served on the Biden transmission team.
— Francesca Craig is now head of protocol and engagement in the office of the CEO of PalantirTechnologies, where she will be working directly for Alex Karp. She most recently was social secretary to the British ambassador in Washington and is an alum of the French Embassy and the Motion Picture Association.
— Patrick Gallagher is now grants manager at the Middle East Institute. He most recently was a public diplomacy officer at the Qatari Embassy in Washington.
— Matthew Pagano is now senior political strategist at TLC Political. He most recently was vice president at Camelback Strategy Group.
— Kate Stotesbery is joining the German Marshall Fund as government relations manager. She previously was deputy chief of staff and communications director for Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas).
— Peter Monaco has joined J Strategies as vice president of communications and public affairs. He most recently was assistant director and full-time lecturer in the writing and critical inquiry program at the SUNY Albany.
— Isabella Bingaman has been promoted to associate director of product at Priorities USA. She was previously a reporting manager at the group.
New Joint Fundraisers
TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND (Reps. Garret Graves, Daniel Webster, Scott Perry, Rick Crawford, Troy Nehls, David Rouzer, Sam Graves)
Chutz PAC (Leadership PAC: Ritchie Torres)
Higginbotham Insurance Agency, Inc. Political Action Committee (PAC)
Vote Local, Vote Blue (Hybrid PAC)
Voter Protection PAC (Hybrid PAC)
New Lobbying Registrations
Alpine Advisors: Ctia – The Wireless Association
Banner Public Affairs, LLC: Austin Center For Manufacturing & Innovation
Banner Public Affairs, LLC: Juno
Banner Public Affairs, LLC: U.S. Minerals & Metals Corporation (M2I)
Banner Public Affairs, LLC: Water Quality Association
Bluestone Strategies, LLC: Modern Economy Project
Cascade Associates: American College Of Occupational And Environmental Medicine
Holland & Knight LLP: Carbice Corporation
Lincoln Park Group L.L.C.: Powerseal Pipeline Products Corporation
Mag Industries Ltd: Mag Industries Ltd
O’Neill And Associates: Boston Ballet
O’Neill And Associates: Vermont Institute Of Natural Science
S-3 Group: Parsons Corporation
The Picard Group, LLC: Hunter Buildings
The Vogel Group: 21 Proud
The Vogel Group: Allergy Standards Limited
The Vogel Group: Apex Renewables, LLC
The Vogel Group: Innovation Refunds LLC
The Vogel Group: Itutor.Com, Inc.
The Vogel Group: National Strategies, LLC (Nsi) On Behalf Of Tektronix, Inc.
The Vogel Group: Sti/Spfa
Tower 19: Aquia Group On Behalf Of Anthropic, Pbc
New Lobbying Terminations
Mccarter & English, LLP: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
The Mckeon Group, Inc.: Association Of Catastrophe Adjusters
Vista Outdoor, Inc: Vista Outdoor, Inc.
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