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Ni Hao, Harley The Asia-Pacific region may be the largest motorcycle market in the world, but it’s also a rough road plagued by a number of trade barriers. That’s not stopping the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Co. from gunning the throttle, especially in China where 170 cities (including Shanghai and Beijing) either prohibit motorcycles or have frozen new motorcycle registrations. The Man strikes again! “China’s significant barriers amount to a sort of Great Wall for us,” says Tim Hoelter, vice president of government affairs for Harley. “Our customers who purchased a Harley would not be able to ride by the Forbidden City or Tiananmen Square.” Hogs in the Forbidden City? You bet. Harley recently opened up a dealership in the suburbs of Beijing. Enter the firm Steptoe & Johnson, which recently registered with the U.S. Senate to lobby for the American icon. Leading the effort is Susan Esserman, the chair of Steptoe’s international department. Esserman, a former deputy U.S. trade representative, has had a 20-year-plus relationship with Harley (no word if she rides). The Chinese restrictions date back to the early 1980s, when motorcycles were a little more than bicycles with engines — small, unlicensed contraptions that caused traffic jams and pollution. The quality of motorbikes has improved since then, Hoelter says, but he notes that it’s going to take some time to familiarize the Chinese with the concept of leisure riding or long-distance trips on the open road. “A motorcycle within the current environment in China is looked at as a basic form of transportation to get you from point A to point B,” says Hoelter. Maybe they can bootleg a few million copies of “Easy Rider.” — Joe Crea
Time Warp The Feb. 14 deadline for filing lobby disclosure annual reports with the Senate is in the distant past, but thanks to government efficiency, many of those records are only now seeing the light of day. In the past week 592 reports detailing lobby spending for the last half of 2005 have been released by the Senate Office of Public Records, and while there are few massive cash cows in this week’s crop, it’s an interesting group of filers nonetheless. Blank Rome Government Relations, which saw most of its filings made public last week, netted $320,000 from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, mainly for appropriations work involving Amtrak service, anti-crime programs, urban housing, and anti-pollution measures under the Clean Water Protection Act. One interesting Blank Rome client was cruise-ship operator Carnival Corp., which doled out $160,000 for legislative help with its Hurricane Katrina work. In the aftermath of the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid the cruise company $236 million to house refugees on three of its ships, docked in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. But being anchored in the good old USA is a bit different from cruising around the Caribbean in at least one practical respect: When a boat is anchored in place, waste piles up, which, interestingly, is where Blank Rome comes in. The firm worked on compliance issues under federal biomedical and hazardous waste laws. Meanwhile, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States spent $60,000 to, among other things, push for the passage of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act, which would ban neighborhood covenants from prohibiting the display of the flag on private property. The bill ultimately stalled in committee. Also, Swisher International, the tobacco company (which is not to be confused with the urinal-cake maker), spent $65,000 to lobby on tobacco legislation, including the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act and the Stop Kids from Smoking Act. Finally, in the big-spender department, there are a few in-house spendthrifts to report: Defense behemoth Raytheon Co. spent $2.5 million on its in-house efforts; AFLAC Inc., $2 million; Allstate Insurance Co., $2 million; Intel Corp., $1.93 million; Abbott Laboratories, $1.8 million; News Corp., $1.5 million; and Zurich North America, $1.2 million. Check back for more lobby disclosure updates — the Senate Office of Public Records reports that it still has an enormous backlog of year-end filings to process. — Andy Metzger

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