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This Week in Abramoff The ever-exploding scandal surrounding lobbying’s bad boy seems to change by the day. Here, in one convenient one-stop shop, is last week’s update to help you get your fix: If it’s Monday it must be the Marshall Islands. That’s where Alaska Rep. Don Young (R) took a congressional delegation in 1999. Was it a coincidence that Jack Abramoff’s firm charged the island republic almost $500,000 in lobbying fees for “coordinating the delegation’s activities?” Of course! The trip was simply part of Young’s work as chairman of the House Resources Committee, his office told the Anchorage Daily News. On Tuesday an important milestone was reached. No, not the report in Roll Call that the Senate Finance Committee had opened a long-awaited investigation into Abramoff’s use of nonprofits. It was that The New York Times officially declared this the “age of Jack Abramoff.” Meanwhile, George Clooney again refused to apologize for razzing Abramoff at the Golden Globes. But there’s always the Oscars. Oscar loves mea culpas. By late week two more pols had been forced to defend Abramoff contacts: Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) “broke his silence” about Abramoff in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. “I liked him,” he said. “I mean, I’ve got to admit that to you. I did.” (He had him at hello?) In Vermont, House hopeful Martha Rainville was at a loss to explain how funds from a PAC with ties to Abramoff wound up in her campaign coffers. “I don’t pretend to know everything,” she told the Burlington Free Press. She’ll never make it in Washington. — Douglas McCollam
Foreign Currency For the past six weeks lobbyists have been filing their year-end disclosure forms with the Foreign Agents Registration Act office, and the latest batch shows firms reporting surprisingly modest fees from foreign clients during the last half of 2005. The biggest haul was by law firm Jones Day, which took in $123,000 from the Chinese Embassy. Valis Associates, a seven-person shop headed by Wayne Valis, who did stints in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations, received $75,000 from the Republic of Cameroon for its representation of the West African nation in a border dispute with Nigeria over the contested Bakassi Peninsula. The Federalist Group netted $50,000 from the government of Cyprus for lobbying on last year’s foreign operations appropriations bill and on a U.S.-Cyprus exchange program. The $50,000 came to the Federalist Group through Covington & Burling, Cyprus’ primary D.C. lobbying outfit, which itself netted $366,744 from the Mediterranean island nation. Finally, solo lobbyist Bruce Cameron reported a $25,000 payment from the government of Nicaragua for representing the country during last year’s CAFTA legislation as well as on foreign-aid issues. Those hauls may have been modest, but at least one firm can look forward to a bountiful 2006. Barbour Griffith & Rogers signed the Eritrean government to a six-month, $390,000 contract in January. The impoverished East African nation has had a long-running border dispute with Ethiopia. But even with the additional lobbying muscle, it may find itself outgunned by its larger neighbor. In 2003, Ethiopia paid the firm now known as DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary more than $7 million, largely for work focusing on the border dispute. In more overseas news, Barnes & Thornburg registered to lobby for the government of Malta this month, although the firm’s work for the Mediterranean nation began in the fall. There’s no dollar figure mentioned in the documents on file, though they do say the firm helped coordinate Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi’s visit to Washington last October, including arranging meetings with government officials, including one at the White House with President George W. Bush. — Andy Metzger
Top Crew It’s been more than four years since the attacks of 9/11, and plans for a memorial for those who died at the World Trade Center in New York remain snarled by red tape and bureaucratic infighting. But at least one tribute to the fallen is on track. American Airlines, which had two of its planes hijacked during the attacks, wants to honor the 33 flight crew members who died that day and is seeking financial help from Washington to erect a memorial in Grapevine, Texas, near its Dallas home base. Dean Thompson, president of the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial Foundation, says his wife, Valerie, is a flight attendant for the airline. “The flight crews fought valiantly to stop what happened and performed as well as they could under the circumstances,” says Thompson. So far he and his wife have raised more than $100,000 for the memorial and have enlisted the Alexandria, Va.-based lobby shop Cash, Smith & Wages to help them come up with additional funds. Thompson says the foundation needs roughly $250,000 to $300,000 to complete the project. He has met with Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) and his staff, who promised to help, but Thompson is unsure if the group will receive any government funding. “We hope to get some,” he says. The memorial will consist of a statue depicting flight crew members and a plaque listing the names of the passengers who died on all four flights. Thompson hopes to have it completed by late spring or summer of next year. — Joe Crea
Sen. Michelman? Already frustrated with the Democratic Party for putting forward an anti-abortion candidate to run against Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says she has been asked by a number of women’s groups and Democratic donors to jump into the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania as an independent. The final straw? When Santorum’s Democratic challenger, Bob Casey, endorsed the nomination of Samuel Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court. “After Casey announced his support for Alito, I got calls from around the country,” says Michelman, a resident of the Keystone State since 1969. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee declined to comment, and a call to EMILY’s List, a group that supports abortion rights candidates for elected office, went unreturned. — Joe Crea
Nam The 25-year-old Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation has hired lobby shop Sher & Blackwell to work on veterans benefits and humanitarian aid issues. The group co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. These days the foundation primarily focuses on helping the victims of land mines, working to establish and run prosthetic-limb clinics in countries around the world that have been plagued by war and civil unrest. The foundation’s president, William Belding, says the group hired Sher to help it win federal appropriations for its work. The foundation is composed mainly of combat veterans and Peace Corps types. “A management nightmare and dream at the same time,” Belding jokes. “The guys that have been to combat have been the most willing to give back,” adds Belding, who served three tours in Vietnam. “They’ve seen the worst of wars firsthand.” — Joe Crea
Chemistry Set After firing 41 employees late last year in a massive purge, the president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, Jack Gerard, has made his first hire. J. William Ichord will become managing director of global affairs for the group. Ichord was formerly the vice president of government and international relations for Unocal Corp., which was at the center of an acquisition storm last year when the Chinese-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. engaged in a bidding war with Chevron Corp. for the California oil giant. At the council, Ichord will report to the senior vice president for advocacy, a position that Gerard is seeking to fill. Gerard has been reorganizing the lobbying arm of the council in an effort to address concerns that member companies expressed after the merger with the American Plastics Council, in 2001. — Joe Crea
‘Dem Cowboys No, it doesn’t have anything to do with getting high-quality water on the sidelines, but the Dallas Cowboys have hired the Texas firm Winstead, Sechrest & Minick to lobby on “water resources legislation” and “energy and water appropriations.” The Cowboys and their owner, Jerry Jones, are building a new stadium for the club in Arlington, Texas, just outside of Dallas. But the developers have hit a snag: A creek runs through the project site, and so it falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Denis Braham, chair of Winstead’s sports practice group, says he is confident any major holdups can be avoided. “The corps works with Congress on appropriation issues, and all we are doing is some due diligence relating to the creek and the corps to better understand how that works,” he says. It is the firm’s first foray into Washington lobbying on behalf of the Cowboys. — Joe Crea
Chamber Music David Crane, a former policy adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), has joined Global USA, the lobbying firm founded by U.S. Chamber of Commerce heavyweight Stanton Anderson. Crane jumped ship from the Washington Group, where he had worked since 2002. The addition of Crane comes on the heels of Anderson’s announced departure from the chamber to refocus his efforts on the lobby firm he founded more than 20 years ago. At Global USA, which has a big base of foreign clients, Crane will work on financial services, transportation, and homeland security issues. He has already taken on one client, the Financial Services Roundtable, for which he’s working on hurricane-relief efforts, including a move to extend the borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program. — Andy Metzger

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