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Tech Talk In a town with a handful of technology trade associations already vying for attention on Capitol Hill, is another really going to make a difference? Internet heavy hitters Google, eBay Inc., and Amazon.com Holdings Inc. may seem to think so. The trio have been in talks with Harry Clark, formerly of Clark & Weinstock, about putting together a new tech trade association that would focus on common issues facing the companies such as net neutrality, an Internet tax moratorium, intellectual property, online gambling, and privacy issues. Interest was stoked after the companies worked together under the umbrella of the Net Coalition, which has taken the lead on pushing net neutrality on the Hill. “We are looking at other common areas of interest and working collaboratively as opposed to individually,” says Clark, who now works for the Stanwich Group, a small consulting firm in Connecticut, and counts Google as a client. Even if an association gets off the ground, many lobbyists question whether the companies’ competitive nature would get in the way. “These are companies that are typically battling like scorpions in a bottle for market share,” says Andrew Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, a nonprofit telecommunications law firm. Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon.com, declined to confirm or deny that the companies are planning on starting such an association. He does say that rumors of a new tech association have been flying for the past two years. “I don’t believe it’s a binary thing,” says Misener. “No one is talking about establishing an association on par with the [U.S. Chamber of Commerce] with tens of millions of dollars of budget. We and our confederates are active in a lot of associations.” Google and eBay did not return calls. — Joe Crea
In the Fold Democrats’ reign in Congress may be just a month old, but their K Street counterparts are already reaping the benefits. Democratic lobby shop Parven Pomper Schuyler is one of them. Only two months old, the firm has already signed up big-name clients like Chevron, Visa USA, the National Association of Mortgage Bankers, and Pfizer. Liberal-leaning firms “hit the jackpot” in the current environment, says Scott Parven, president of Parven Pomper Schuyler. But Parven and his colleagues Brian Pomper, Beau Schuyler, and Melissa Wier aren’t selling just partisan politics. The firm is focused on building relationships with key moderate Democrats like Reps. John Tanner (Tenn.) and Tom Carper (Del.), and other members of the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrats. “We’re not only a Democratic firm. We are focused on the centrists. We think they’ll be critical to the passage of legislation of any kind,” Parven says. — Osita Iroegbu
Squire’s Landing Ohio-based Squire, Sanders & Dempsey nabbed three Venable partners last week to spearhead a new government-affairs practice, the firm’s first aggressive move into lobbying. Patrick O’Donnell, James Pitts, and James Jatras will launch the practice, dubbed Squire Sanders Public Advocacy, bringing with them a dozen clients including the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, Lockheed Martin Corp., and Motor Coach Industries, the manufacturers of Greyhound buses. Pitts, a former U.S. Treasury Department official who also worked in the administration of then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton (they both grew up in Hot Springs, Ark., and went to the same church), says that there are no ill feelings toward Venable, but the trio’s practice took an international focus and Squire, with law offices in 16 countries, was a natural fit. Venable has no offices outside the United States. Pitts says he hopes to have 12 lobbyists working for the practice by the end of the year. “That’s not a huge shop, but it’s the first year,” he says. — Joe Crea
• AFTER DARK • Starry Night It was Hollywood meets Washington, D.C., last week as celebrities like Heather Graham and Giancarlo Esposito rubbed shoulders with Democratic and Republican lawmakers over B. Smith Restaurant’s crawfish and sweet potatoes. The pols and celebs met in an effort to raise money for The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit social and public advocacy organization for the entertainment industry founded by prominent actors like Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, and the late Christopher Reeve. Companies dished out $50,000, $30,000, or $25,000 for the honor of having their names appear on invitations as host of one of three events held last week by the coalition. The money raised (no total was available at press time) will go toward advocating for issues such as First Amendment rights, education, and curbing out-of-country movie production, organizers say. The event was an example of nonprofits taking advantage of their exemption from lobbying rules and continuing to wine and dine lawmakers. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), one of dozens of lawmakers at the nearly 200-person event, thanked the stars for coming out for the tribute to the new Congress. The event was co-chaired by Morris Reid of Democratic lobby firm Westin Rinehart and Ed Rogers of the Republican Barbour Griffith & Rogers. The highlight of the event was when the stars read, in a serious tone, the Bill of Rights in a skit they performed before lawmakers, Kathy King of Westin Rinehart says. “It was kind of funny to see Heather Graham talking to John Dingell” because of the age difference, King says. — Osita Iroegbu
• HEARD ON THE STREET • Frank Mallone, a 59-year-old pilot for JetBlue Airways Corp., and Bob Stocker, a 61-year-old former pilot for United Parcel Service Inc. who now works as an engineer for the company, were in Washington last week for the Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement proposing an extension of the mandatory retirement age for pilots from 60 to 65. The move follows a Senate bill, which was reintroduced this month, that would expedite the rule-changing process. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said that despite the announcement, pilots who turn 60 before the rules change takes place would not be grandfathered in. Pilots have been lobbying aggressively for a change to the 47-year-old ban since last summer. “The 60-year-old pilot is who the traveling public wants to see in the cockpit,” said Mallone, who will continue to lobby Capitol Hill for the bill to accelerate the FAA rule-changing process. — Joe Crea

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