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Circuit Breakers It’s an election year, and that means conservatives on the Hill are once again moving to slice the liberal-leaning United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in two. In response, 33 federal judges in the circuit penned an article for an upcoming issue of the Federalist Society’s publication, Engage, arguing against the move. The article was itself a response to an earlier piece in the same publication by conservative 9th Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a 1986 appointee of President Ronald Reagan who favors the split. But his colleague conservative icon Alex Kozinski says there’s no logical way to divide the circuit without cutting California — where 70 percent of the cases are heard — in half. To help beat back the anti-9th movement, Thad Strom of Parry, Romani, DeConcini & Symms has registered to lobby for Friends of the 9th Circuit, a committee of individuals and attorneys seeking to preserve the circuit in its current form. All eyes are focused on Senate Judiciary Committee members Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif). Hill insiders say this is not an action item for Specter, but Sessions, a proponent of the split, wants a proposed bill marked up. Feinstein remains adamantly opposed. Is there a genuine conservative ideological divide on this issue? No, says Kozinski. “I think geography has a lot to do with it,” he says. “The three active judges who favor it are from Oregon, Alaska, and Washington.” — Joe Crea
Pickups Crowell & Moring’s lobbying arm, C&M Capitol Link, added two more lobbyists last week, bringing its total head count to seven. The firm, which specializes in agriculture issues, raided the roster of one of its clients, Crop Life America, to hire Patrick Donnelly, who had led the pesticide and chemical association for the past two and a half years. The firm also brought on board Paul Behrends from the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group. Given that firm’s close ties with a certain Texan, you might have thought Crowell would shy away from Behrends. “We did our homework. We did all the right due diligence, as you might guess,” says John Thorne, head of C&M Capitol Link. “[Behrends'] reputation is solid. Everyone we talked to said he was completely out of that other business.” This isn’t the first time Behrends has worked with Crowell & Moring. In 2004, Behrends registered to lobby on behalf of the firm on “private security contractors overseas.” Military contractor Blackwater USA partially funded the lobbying. — Anna Palmer
Easy as ABC Dutko Worldwide shot to the top of the Influence revenue charts this year, unseating longtime lobby king Cassidy & Associates as the highest-grossing non-law-firm lobby shop in 2005. And it doesn’t look to be slowing down in 2006. Since the beginning of the year, Dutko has signed on 17 new clients, according to lobby disclosure filings released by the Senate this month. The registrations run the gamut, from telecom clients such as Eschelon Telecom, Convergys Corp., and Cavalier Telephone to pharmaceutical giants such as Eisai Inc. and Isis Pharmaceutical to financial services companies such as Forex Capital Markets and the Reznick Group. But it’s Dutko’s education practice that’s proving to be a real magnet. The firm has landed three education clients since Jan. 1: the Education Industry Association, Educational Services of America Inc., and Learning Through Sports Inc. Those are the first education clients Dutko has signed since former Deputy Secretary of Education Gene Hickok joined the firm last July. — Andy Metzger
Benevolent Defense It’s not really lobbying, it’s raising awareness on the Hill. So says Grayson Winterling, a principal at Congressional Strategies, of his firm’s recent registrations for work on various defense-related matters. First up, the Arlington, Va., firm has registered the National Infantry Foundation, which is raising funds to build a museum and parade field near Fort Benning in Georgia dedicated to the United States Infantry. “It’s a worthwhile project . . . the infantry is the backbone of the Army,” says Winterling of the effort. Ben Williams, executive director of the National Infantry Foundation, says the museum, which will primarily be used by Fort Benning for training, will cost $75 million. In fiscal 2004 the foundation received a grant from the Department of Defense for $8.5 million and was also included in last year’s transportation bill. In all, the foundation has raised $45 million, with about $15 million coming from the federal government. Winterling’s group has also registered with the Senate to lobby for Health Net Federal Services, a Pentagon-run program that provides counseling and assistance to families of service members. Winterling says he has briefed a few committees on the program and they are trying to expand it to include the National Guard, despite the guard being under state control. “The states do a good job at counseling, but we are saying, �Hey, maybe there could be a centralized approach.’ “ And Winterling’s group is also doing work for South Carolina-based Force Protection Industries, which produces the Buffalo and the Cougar, two blast-protected vehicles the military uses for mine sweeping and troop transport. “They are being procured by DoD, but not in the numbers they should be,” says Winterling. — Joe Crea
Buchanan Broadens Buchanan Ingersoll is adding another Republican. The firm has hired Karen Lynch, the former chief of staff for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.). Lynch, who will serve as special counsel and assistant director of government relations, joins Buchanan’s other Republican, Terry Haines. Lynch and Haines have worked together before, on the House Financial Services Committee, where Lynch served as a legislative and legal adviser to Chairman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio). The 33-year-old Lynch also served as counsel and manager of congressional affairs for the Consumer Bankers Association and worked on the 2004 Senate campaign of Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.). (Lynch, however, says her personality is better suited to the House than the Senate.) Why Buchanan? Lynch says she wanted to work with Haines again. “He’s a good mentor with a lot more experience than I.” — Joe Crea
Freedom Doer Let Freedom Ring, a conservative nonprofit that promotes “constitutional government, economic freedom, and traditional values,” registered with the Senate to lobby on immigration reform. Heading the group is Colin Hanna, who says he created Let Freedom Ring in response to the “leftist 527s” that began showing up during the 2004 election. Hanna, a former county commissioner in Chester, Pa., has had one-on-one meetings with some key GOP senators, including Sam Brownback (Kan.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), and Arlen Specter (Pa.), to discuss immigration reform. His group began an initiative, WeNeedAFence.com, advocating a border security fence to control illegal immigration. The group is also pushing for an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex unions and defining ethical stem cell research. Hanna, 59, says his political background has helped him gain access to Congress, but he has also been aided by the Alexandria, Va., public affairs shop Shirley & Banister. And how does the evangelical Hanna get along with Specter, who frustrates many social conservatives? “We have a mutually respectful and effective working relationship, even though we recognize that on some flash point issues we differ,” he says. — Joe Crea
TWIA Jack Abramoff has been answering the government’s questions for months, but now he may have to answer a few of Big Tony’s. Last week, Florida Circuit Judge Michael Kaplan approved a subpoena by Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello of Abramoff and his SunCruz partner, Adam Kidan. Moscatiello is one of three men charged with the 2001 murder of Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis, from whom Abramoff bought the ill-fated SunCruz cruise-boat casino company. Abramoff and Kidan’s purchase of SunCruz is “at the heart” of the murder case, Moscatiello attorney Dave Bogenschutz wrote in court papers. Abramoff has long insisted that he had nothing to do with the Boulis killing. Meanwhile, Abramoff is due at his own sentencing hearing in Miami on Wednesday. That date prompted an SOS from the disgraced lobbyist to his friends and supporters. “Please do not share this e-mail or forward it to anyone,” he wrote in a missive to his “dear friends” that promptly showed up in The Washington Times. “I have sent it [to] a limited number of friends and hope you will honor this request. Thanks.” Abramoff was soliciting character references to present to Judge Paul Huck. In the e-mail, Abramoff told friends he was “saddened and embarrassed” to have to write under these circumstances, but that the matter was urgent. “[Huck] probably only knows of me through the harsh media caricature which has plagued me for the past two years,” Abramoff wrote. “It may only be through letters of friends that any compassion and balance can be achieved.” The formerly tough-on-crime Republican then advised his friends to suggest to the judge “alternatives to or reduction of” jail time for himself. Not to be outdone, the Senate Finance Committee is also getting in on some Abramoff e-mails. The committee’s investigation into Abramoff sputtered for most of last year as the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and Department of Justice investigations took center stage. Now the committee is once again pushing its own probe, focusing on Abramoff’s charitable organizations. Those queries may well drag the disgraced ex-lobbyist’s former employers back into the spotlight. “The Finance Committee has subpoenaed documents from Greenberg Traurig and Preston Gates Ellis related to its review of nonprofits with links to Jack Abramoff,” Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in a joint statement. — Andy Metzger

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