Bipartisan duo of dealmakers heads to K Street
With Megan R. Wilson and Daniel Lippman
FIRST IN PI — THEGROUP ADDS A GOP PARTNER: Ahead of potential fights to come in the new, narrowly divided Congress on everything from the debt ceiling and funding the government to farm policy, two of the latest Hill vets to head downtown have been key players involved in some of the last Congress’ marquee legislative achievements.
— One of them is Pam Thiessen, who left the Hill after nearly three decades to join theGROUP D.C. as its first Republican partner. Thiessen most recently served as GOP staff director on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and spent roughly half of her time on the Hill working for former Ohio Sen. Rob Portman — a chief architect of the blockbuster infrastructure package and last year’s Electoral Count Act reforms.
— In an interview, Thiessen pointed to the legislation passed last session as proof that bipartisan breakthroughs can happen on almost any issue. “I think the bipartisan infrastructure package, in which I was the lead negotiator … just really epitomized how something big can happen,” she told PI.
— In the process, she’ll also boost theGROUP’s bipartisan bonafides. Firm lobbyists’ close ties to top Democrats across Washington fueled a major boom in business over the past couple of years, but the firm only had one other Republican lobbyist on staff after Dwayne Bolton decamped for Mindset in October.
— “TheGROUP is serious about building a bipartisan firm, and I’m here to do just that,” Thiessen said. “Having worked for the past 12 years for Rob Portman in the middle of every single major bipartisan deal that’s moved forward, to me, it seemed like the perfect place.”
ALPINE GROUP NABS HOYER FLOOR DIRECTOR: Alpine Group, meanwhile, has scooped up a key player in the Democrats’ House floor operation for the past five years. Deborah Rowe, a longtime aide to former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, has joined the firm as a policy director.
— Rowe worked for Hoyer for nearly a decade, serving as the Maryland Democrat’s senior floor adviser before he stepped down from leadership last year, and previously serving as part of Hoyer’s whip operation when he was minority whip. Rowe, who told PI she doesn’t plan on registering to lobby, will advise clients on how to “navigate through all the ins and outs” of the appropriations process.
— As one of Hoyer’s top floor advisers, Rowe helped shepherd every piece of legislation that made it through the chamber during that time, including the coronavirus relief bills and the Democratic American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure and gun bills, and last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.
— “Deborah was vital to securing each of these groundbreaking laws,” Hoyer said in a statement provided by the firm, pointing in addition to her role in passing more than 450 suspension bills, which require approval from two-thirds of the chamber.
— Hoyer also praised Rowe’s “invaluable understanding of the House’s institutional nuances,” which Alpine Group CEO Les Spivey predicted in a statement “will be incredibly consequential in an era of divided government, when any legislative victories or vehicles will need to be carefully built and balanced.”
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D.C. POLICE UNION LOBBIES UP: As Congress moved to overrule the D.C. city council’s overhaul of its criminal code earlier this year, the union representing the city’s police force retained Modern Cartographers, a political consultancy specializing in law enforcement issues, to press its case in the Capitol, according to lobbying disclosures filed Monday.
— Joe Cameron, a former California police officer, and Hugh Cameron, a former Massachusetts cop and labor leader, began working in early February for the D.C. Police Union, according to the records. That was days before the House voted to pass a resolution to nullify the crime bill, which had been passed over D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s objection in January.
— The resolution passed with 31 Democrats joining all Republicans in the House, and after President Joe Biden told Senate Democrats he would not veto the measure, infuriating proponents of D.C. statehood, dozens supported the resolution when it passed last week.
GENERICS LOBBY WEIGHS BROADER LOBBYING SHAKEUP AMID LAYOFFS: Last night, Megan scooped that the Association for Accessible Medicines, the generic drugmakers’ industry group, laid off its top lobbyist and two other executives as part of an effort to cut more than $4 million dollars from its budget — and some of the association’s K Street firms could be next, two people with knowledge of the situation, who were given anonymity to speak freely, tell her.
— AAM, which spent around $3 million on lobbying last year, retains some of the town’s top lobbying firms, according to disclosures: Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid, Mehlman Consulting, Fierce Government Relations and Capitol Hill Consulting Group, in addition to The Gibson Group. Records show that the association already parted ways with two firms — Mayer Brown and Endgame Strategies — at the end of last year.
— According to an internal email from interim CEO David Gaugh and obtained by Megan, the trade group has eliminated the positions of Erik Komendant, its top lobbyist; Allen Goldberg, the head of AAM’s comms shop; and Jonathan Kimball, the vice president of trade, international and strategic initiatives.
— The layoffs come amid broader turmoil for the association. Gaugh took over as interim CEO after Dan Leonard’s resignation in December. AAM has lost several other staffers since then — including Polly Webster, a former lobbyist for the group who now handles drug policy for Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — and the group has recently shed several smaller members as well.
BANK COLLAPSES EXPOSE FAMILIAR FAULT LINE: “The banking industry’s factions of lobbyists are beginning to draw battle lines following the collapse of regional lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, as a regulatory crackdown looms,” POLITICO’s Zach Warmbrodt reports.
— “The opening salvo is coming from the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade association representing the nation’s smallest banks. The group is one of Washington’s lobbying powerhouses, with members beloved and protected by lawmakers on the left and the right.”
— “ICBA is gearing up to make the case that the smallest, ‘community’ banks shouldn’t have to pay for the rescue of bank depositors and that the largest lenders deserve stricter oversight from regulators,” in what is beginning to look like a redux of small banks’ lobbying brawl with big banks following the 2008 financial crisis.
— “Underscoring the dispute are real-world competitive tensions between small and large banks as depositors rethink where they park cash” in the wake of the bank failures, Zach writes, pointing to a Bloomberg headline Tuesday that read: “Too-Big-to-Fail Lenders Rake In Deposits After Three Banks Fail.”
ANNALS OF THE REVOLVING DOOR: Since leaving office in 2013, former Rep. Barney Frank — the Frank in Dodd-Frank — “has been working the other side of the street— as a board member of Signature Bank, which regulators shut down Sunday,” The Wall Street Journal’s Julie Bykowicz writes. “The 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation set tougher regulatory safeguards on banks with more than $50 billion in assets. After leaving office and joining Signature’s board, Mr. Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, publicly advocated for easing those new standards for smaller banks.”
MEANWHILE, IN CALIFORNIA: “A California appeals court ruled Monday that Proposition 22, which classifies gig delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, could stand as state law,” The Sacramento Bee’s Maya Miller reports.
— “The decision, which overturns a 2021 Alameda Superior Court ruling that deemed the measure ‘unconstitutional and unenforceable,’ is a significant win for California’s rideshare and food delivery industry and a setback for its opponents in organized labor,” who are sure to appeal the ruling.
— “Today’s ruling is a historic victory for the nearly 1.4 million drivers who rely on the independence and flexibility of app-based work to earn income, and for the integrity of California’s initiative system,” the business and gig company-backed coalition Protect App-Based Drivers and Services, whose members poured more than $200 million into the Prop 22 ballot fight, said in a statement.
MEANWHILE, PART II: “When California Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to cut off Walgreens over its plan to scale back access to abortion pills, panicked representatives for the company raced to call his aides for clarity about the state’s retaliatory policy. As the standoff unfolded, the governor’s senior staff heard a familiar voice come over the phone as a lead representative for Walgreens,” our Chris Cadelago reports: It was Newsom’s former chief of staff Ann O’Leary.
— “Some top advisers to the governor were alarmed to learn that O’Leary, a national authority on expanding abortion access, was trying to convince them to soften their approach on behalf of Walgreens, according to three people briefed on the exchanges. … ‘It didn’t sit particularly well with the governor that he had a former top aide of his administration now trying to push back on the policy he’s making,’ said one of the people briefed on the calls.”
— The involvement of O’Leary, now a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block, struck some Newsom allies as especially ironic given that “it was she, while serving as the governor’s chief of staff, who authored tough revolving-door and conflict-of-interest rules for Newsom’s advisers” following criticism of the governor for attending a birthday dinner for a powerful lobbyist friend at an upscale, exclusive restaurant.
— Jay Eberle is joining AstraZeneca as director of policy. He was most recently a longtime health policy adviser to Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).
— Former Rep. John Katko is joining cybersecurity ratings company SecurityScorecard as an adviser.
— Amanda Tuminelli has joined DeFi Education Fund as chief legal officer. She was previously a principal at Kobre & Kim.
— Kristin Brackemyre has been promoted to senior director of the public affairs practice at the Public Affairs Council, and Victoria Ellington has been promoted to senior manager of political engagement at the group, where she will oversee the National PAC Conference.
— Ana Marina Ingham is now political director of Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ reelect. She previously was an executive research assistant at OnMessage.
— Aaron White is now comms director for Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). He most recently was COO and director of comms at the Progressive Policy Institute, and is a Sean Patrick Maloney and Ron Kind alum.
— Saul Levin will be legislative and policy director at the Green New Deal Network. He most recently has been policy adviser for Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).
— Sarah Durdaller is now director of media relations at the Edison Electric Institute. She previously served as deputy communications director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
New Joint Fundraisers
Equality Now (Rep. Ritchie Torres, Equality PAC)
Jared Golden Victory Fund 2024 (Rep. Jared Golden, AS MAINE GOES PAC, Maine Democratic Party)
Massachusetts Senate Victory 2024 (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, DSCC)
Dream Big Action PAC (Super PAC)
NEW YORK WOMEN’S COLLECTIVE PAC (PAC)
No Widow Left Behind (Super PAC)
Saving the Second (Super PAC)
USOPINION (Super PAC)
New Lobbying Terminations
Alpine Group Partners, LLC.: Edgetheory
Bob Riley & Associates, LLC: Infirmary Health System, Inc.
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP: Africell Uk Limited
Delphi World Group: Redshred
G S Proctor And Associates, Inc: Goodwill Of Greater Washington
Hannegan Landau Poersch & Rosenbaum Advocacy, LLC: Salus Ai LLC
J M Burkman & Associates: Lakeland Group Inc
Kanner & Associates, LLC: Southwestern Power Resources Association
Liebman & Associates, Inc.: Lightmanufacturing, Inc.
Mehlman Consulting, Inc.: Earthjustice
Modern Cartographers LLC: Dc Police Union
Monument Advocacy: Equinix
Monument Advocacy: Vestergaard Frandsen Inc. Doing Business As Lifestraw
Pat Williams And Associates: Anterix
Pat Williams And Associates: Encina Communications Corporation
Port Of Portland: Port Of Portland
Ralph Johnson: Rushmore Strategic Advisors LLC On Behalf Of Pink Media Group Doo Belgrad
Squire Patton Boggs: City Of Lone Tree
The Criscom Company: City Of Coalinga
New Lobbying Terminations
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP: Western Digital
The Peterson Group Inc: Nzero
The Peterson Group Inc: White Earth Nation
The Smith-Free Group, LLC: Teva Pharmaceuticals USa, Inc.
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