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Crying Fowl For many animal rights activists, lobbyist Bryan Scott of the Chicago shop AG Associates is a lot like the ax murderer Jason from the “Friday the 13th” horror movies — he just keeps coming back for more. Gene Bauston of New York state’s Farm Sanctuary recently told Scott that he’s tired of seeing his face. Having previously taken on those opposed to the production of veal, Scott’s now defending embattled American producers of foie gras, the tasty, fattened fowl liver often featured at four-star restaurants. “They are not too happy to hear that we’re engaged in this,” says Scott of the Farm Sanctuary. Chicago (hog butcher to the world!) recently passed an ordinance banning the sale of foie gras, and California adopted a similar measure that is scheduled to go into effect in 2012. In Philadelphia, activists are collecting signatures in hopes of a similar ban. Guillermo Gonzalez, owner of Sonoma Foie Gras, says the goal of activists is “to arrive to a meatless society.” Although the foie gras industry has never engaged in a significant awareness campaign, Gonzalez says the time is now. So, Scott, a lover of foie gras (and animal protein in general), has been retained by producers to form and manage the North American Foie Gras Association, an umbrella organization representing producers. The goal for Scott is simple: Repeal the Chicago ordinance and do it without filing a lawsuit. AG also has plans to solicit the National Restaurant Association for help. And what’s the position of some of D.C.’s exclusive restaurants, such as Maestro, Cafe Atl�ntico, 1789, and Palena, that serve foie gras? Christa Carretero, the sous-chef at Cafe Atl�ntico, which features something called “foie gras cotton candy” on its menu, says the staff has been debating whether to keep serving the fattened liver morsels. But Carretero says she’s not clear if the debate is over animal cruelty or simple economics. Try to stick a feeding tube into that. — Joe Crea
Spring Cleaning Like a lot of us, the Senate Office of Public Records had some stacks of old paper around that it needed to clear out. So last week, the nine-person office in charge of lobby registrations released 1,403 year-end disclosure filings for 2005. In the batch, 21 companies reported spending more than $1 million on in-house lobbying in the last half of 2005. Topping that list were two companies feeling a lot of political heat. Chevron Corp. laid out $5.4 million on issues ranging from price gouging to the Endangered Species Act to its dust-up with China oil giant CNOOC. Freddie Mac, meanwhile, spent $5.3 million on its lobby efforts in the last half of a year in which it took a bruising in Congress over its financial mismanagement. ConocoPhillips shelled out $2.1 million on its in-house efforts, and utility giants Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Duke Energy both lobbied to the tune of $1 million-plus. Camelot Oil & Gas Development, a virtually unknown London-based energy company owned by Azerbaijani Khagani Bashirov, is seeking to develop gas resources in the Caspian Sea. In connection with that quest, it paid an obscure lobby shop, JWI LLC, $1.5 million to lobby the Bush administration, including the National Security Council, the National Intelligence Council, and the Office of the Vice President. On the health care front, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association spent $3.6 million on its D.C. operations, and the Advanced Medical Technology Association put down $1.8 million. Drug companies also were among the big spenders. GlaxoSmithKline spent $2.9 million on its lobbying, Merck & Co. spent $2 million, and Eli Lilly & Co. spent $1.5 million. Other interesting filings include Timken Co., which paid Downey McGrath Group Inc. $100,000 to lobby on international trade issues. Timken’s former president and CEO, William Timken, was appointed ambassador to Germany in September 2005. Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company that owns Citgo Petroleum Corp., paid Collier Shannon Scott $140,000 to lobby on foreign oil issues. Finally, hut one! Hut two! The National Football League paid $360,000 to its longtime federal lobbyists at Covington & Burling for work on issues relating to steroid abuse, gambling, and eminent domain. Eminent domain? And you thought debates over new stadiums were just confined to Washington. — Andy Metzger

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