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And Another Count Apco Worldwide as yet another D.C. firm betting that investigations and oversight will be ramped up this year, now that Democrats are in charge of Congress. Following on the heels of Dittus Communications, Dickstein Shapiro, and a bevy of other D.C. shops, Apco is launching a new practice co-chaired by former Sen. Don Riegle (D-Mich.) and Kent Jarrell, a former Washington-based CBS News and WUSA-TV reporter who covered Capitol Hill for 16 years. Jarrell and Robert Schooling, Apco’s D.C. managing director, say the practice is mostly a formalization of what Apco has done in the past. “These are the services we have offered, on an ad-hoc basis, to many of our clients,” Jarrell says. “Clients may have the expertise, but they still feel they don’t have the full package.” But the pair won’t go so far as to say the formation is in response to a potential Democratic oversight crusade, noting that Republicans, particularly Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who previously chaired the Senate Finance Committee, were aggressive in terms of oversight. Schooling says that in the coming weeks Apco will make some additional “senior hires off the Hill” but declined, for now, to say who. — Joe Crea
Cancer Blues After President George W. Bush’s visit last month to the National Institutes of Health, where officials touted what they called a historic decline in cancer deaths, cancer advocates last week were left wondering what went wrong. The president’s recent proposal to slash funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities has left the cancer community disappointed, says Daniel Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, who stepped into the position last month and says one of his primary goals is to lobby for more money to fight cancer. “This is a not a budget that the nationwide cancer community was hoping for after the president’s visit,” Smith says. Cancer deaths dropped for the first time in 2003, and the American Cancer Society reported a much larger drop three weeks ago. The group, which spent $2 million on lobbying last year, has garnered support from lawmakers, Smith says. Although Congress voted last year for the first time in more than a decade to cut cancer funding, Smith says he expects Congress’ allocation this year to go beyond what the president proposed. — Osita Iroegbu
Roots Work Andrew Gilman, president and chief executive of CommCore Consulting Group, is cashing in on the federal lobby reforms by offering training in grass-roots advocacy for national associations and their federal and state affiliates. (One such client is the Nevada State Education Association.) Gilman, whose firm specializes in communications coaching and crisis consulting, says that the new congressional restrictions are likely to de-emphasize the influence held by traditional lobby shops. “Maybe we can’t use Patton Boggs for everything anymore, so let’s bring the constituents in,” says Gilman. Helping him in this effort is Trish Rimo, the former chief policy lobbyist for Science Applications International Corp. and former head of government affairs for Lucent and Telcordia Technologies, along with Brent Gilroy, a former staffer for then-Rep. George “Buddy” Darden (D-Ga.). — Joe Crea
Having Their Say After years of pushing to add the names of 70,000 black farmers to a list of claimants in the country’s largest civil-rights class action, the National Black Farmers Association last week saw what it calls a breakthrough. Several lawmakers backed the association’s efforts by introducing the Pigford Claims Remedy Act in the House and Senate. The bill — whose sponsors include Reps. Robert Scott (D-Va.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) — calls for the names to be added to the list of those seeking funds from a 1999 settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture after it was discovered that the agency discriminated against African-American farmers applying for government loans. The 70,000 farmers who submitted claims after the deadline were rejected on procedural grounds and barred from the settlement. — Osita Iroegbu
• AFTER DARK • House Party It was a splashy event at the Wisconsin Avenue Northwest home of Gloria Dittus, owner and founder of Dittus Communications, that welcomed two new partners, Timothy Punke and Andrew Howell, to the Monument Policy Group. The firm is run by C. Stewart Verdery, a former Homeland Security Department official. Verdery mingled with guests, including James Burnley IV, a partner in Venable’s homeland-security group and former transportation secretary during the Reagan administration. Also attending were representatives from the National Association of Manufacturers, McKenna Long & Aldridge, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where Howell was the former vice president for homeland security. It seemed that everyone showed up but the owner of the house, Dittus, who was in Orlando attending a meeting. Meanwhile, across town at the Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar on Capitol Hill, principals from the Raben Group, a Latino public-affairs firm, including Estuardo Rodriguez, Robert Raben, and Mark Glaze, gathered for their annual celebration. Last week, the firm launched several new practice areas, such as intellectual property and entertainment, in addition to nabbing two new clients, General Electric for IP matters and Home Depot for regulatory issues. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) attended, along with officials from the National Congress of American Indians and the American Civil Liberties Union. — Joe Crea
• HEARD ON THE STREET • • “Our position is, until we receive all the gas tax funds that Texans send to Washington, we are going to need to have every voice we can get to help us.” — Randall Dillard, Texas Department of Transportation, on the agency hiring Washington lobbyists (AP) • “The commercial is completely intended for me, making fun of myself and my own situation. It has nothing to do with anybody in the fast-food industry at all. So, you know, if we’ve offended anybody, I’m really sorry about that.” — Kevin Federline, on criticism over his Super Bowl ad • “You’ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, it’s — that’s a storybook, man.” — Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del.), characterizing Senate colleague and fellow presidential hopeful Barack Obama of Illinois “I truly regret that the words I spoke offended people I admire very much.” — Biden, apologizing after his remark drew criticism

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