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Working 9 to 5 The end of 2006 wasn’t good to the all-Republican shop Barbour Griffith & Rogers. The firm lost 17 clients by the end of the year, according to records filed with the U.S. Senate this month. Client terminations included the Coalition of Community Bankers, Gray Insurance Co., the American Network of Community Resources & Options, the Association of Oil Pipelines, Dubai International Capital, and the National Dialogue Party of Lebanon. But the loss of 17 clients is not as dramatic as it sounds, says Loren Monroe, chief operating officer of Barbour Griffith. Monroe says many of the clients who left hired the firm early in the year for “specific projects that we helped them accomplish.” He adds, “Maybe in some ways it looks like a lot [of terminations], but it’s fairly consistent.” Some of the terminated clients have been with the firm longer than a year, however. For example, the Association of Oil Pipelines began working with the shop in 2000. Monroe notes that the ratio of lost clients is balanced by new work. Recently, the firm signed on a bevy of new clients, including AT&T Services, the Austin Clean Water Program, Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, MPI Holdings Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp., O2Diesel Corp., the Professional & Scientific Association, and ResCare. And the firm continues to wine and dine key GOP lawmakers. Two weeks ago the firm held an event for Sen. Mel Martinez, welcoming the Florida senator as the new general chairman of the Republican National Committee, with Ken Mehlman, outgoing RNC chairman, and Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) in attendance. The firm is also welcoming Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour back into the fold for a fundraiser next month. — Joe Crea
Hungry Hippos Although Congress is out of session, plenty of lawmakers will be shilling inside the Beltway for campaign donations this week. Several fetes are already on the schedule — provided lobbyists show up with a $1,000 check in hand — including Rep. Walter Jones’ (R-N.C.) Eastern North Carolina Barbecue at the American Trucking Association on Feb. 28. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California will also host a luncheon buffet March 13 at the Democratic Club Annex with a “minimum suggested contribution of $1,000.” And Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers will host a breakfast at the Monocle on March 1. Rogers’ flier notes that the invitation was “not printed at government expense.” That’s a relief. — Joe Crea
Hold the Lobby After persuading enough lawmakers to join the bandwagon in pushing state laws to require its new vaccine against cervical cancer in schools, Merck & Co. last week decided to pull the plug on its lobbying efforts amid pressure from conservative groups and health organizations. The drug company and its supporters had been pushing state lawmakers to pass legislation that would require girls as young as 12 and 13 to take its vaccine Gardasil, which protects against the sexually transmitted and cervical-cancer-causing human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. Gardasil was approved just last summer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has already seen what the company calls “impressive sales.” Merck claims to be putting an end to what is considered a successful lobbying campaign, the results of which still resonate throughout the country in legislation, introduced in about 25 states, that would help put millions of dollars in Merck’s coffers if passed. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the first state official to give an executive order requiring sixth-graders to receive the HPV vaccine beginning next year. “Merck’s decision does not end this controversy, since politicians have grabbed the baton of pushing for state mandates,” says Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, which opposes mandating the drug. “Merck built the machine, and now it is running on its own.” — Osita Iroegbu
• AFTER DARK • Party High Law firms and lobby shops paid top dollar for tables last Thursday at the National Press Foundation’s 24th annual awards dinner at the Hilton Washington Hotel. Crowded into the hotel’s International Ballroom were lobbyists and executives from Arnold & Porter, the Business Roundtable, Dittus Communications, the National Association of Broadcasters, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the United States Telecom Association. Spotted in the crowd were Chamber representatives including Executive Director of Communications Eric Wohlschlegel and Janet Kavinoky, the Chamber’s transportation lobbyist. Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of media relations for the NAB, was in attendance, along with William McCloskey, former spokesman for BellSouth Corp. Honorees at the dinner included Gwen Ifill of PBS, columnist Art Buchwald (posthumously), and lobby reporter Brody Mullins of The Wall Street Journal, who was honored for a Page 1 story he wrote called “The End of the Affair,” which chronicled the competitive relationships among young aides to then-Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas), leading, ultimately, to the investigation of then-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. — Joe Crea
• HEARD ON THE STREET • • “Obama is Usher, but she’s Madonna. He has a long career ahead of him, but the touring dollars don’t compare.” — Hilary Rosen, former CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America and a Clinton supporter, on Obama’s ability to raise campaign dollars. (Time) • “We must go to each of the companies and agencies and urge them to make the industry open up and expand the market and the opportunities. After all, we once did not know how big baseball could be until everyone could play. Right now, with the system [in] Hollywood, we don’t know how big the entertainment market can be.” — Rev. Jesse Jackson, after lobbying Universal Studios to increase industry diversity (The Hollywood Reporter) • “Merck had clearly acknowledged that they made a corporate marketing decision to have this vaccine mandated by the states. Now it’s clear that they are admitting that that was a stupid decision.” — Texas state Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), the primary author of a bill to reverse Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s order to mandate Merck’s HPV vaccine, on Merck’s decision to stop marketing the drug

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