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A Family Affair When former Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) moved to K Street in 2005 as a senior counsel at DLA Piper after 28 years in office, he also set up a solo consulting shop. Now, he’s adding his children Matthew and Christine to the operation. And the consulting shop is morphing into a lobbying enterprise. So far, the Gephardt Group has signed on to lobby for Peabody Energy Corp., E3 BioFuels, and Telepier Foundations. Senate disclosure forms indicate that the lobby shop also has an affiliation with James Lee Witt Associates, the lobby shop named for the former Federal Emergency Management Agency director under President Bill Clinton. The two shops will work together on Telepier. Both father and son are registered to lobby for Telepier, a Georgia-based company that builds anchoring systems for mobile homes, along with Sharon Daniels, a longtime Gephardt aide, who is also at the firm. Matthew Gephardt, the firm’s chief operating officer and managing partner, joined in January, and Christine, who is executive vice president and partner, came on board late last year. Matthew says he is primarily doing accounting, legal, and corporate advisory work in Atlanta, where the firm is based. The senior Gephardt has been advising clients such as the St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Goldman Sachs. Matthew says his father has an agreement with DLA Piper to remain a senior counsel while pursuing his lobby venture, and the Gephardt Group is working to avoid any conflicts that may arise. Matthew Gephardt says the firm is likely to explore matters pertaining to labor relations, given his father’s history with unions. Christine, who is also a part-time student at Georgetown University Law Center, says the bulk of the firm’s work to date has been creating strategic plans for companies to better sell their products. For now, the partners are determining which clients also need lobbying help. — Joe Crea
Fighting Back Once lawmakers return from recess, some organizations are hoping to garner enough support to keep their grass-roots dealings with legislators off the books, with many of them saying that disclosure would create a burden for citizens who have the right to talk to their representatives in Congress. Groups, including Public Citizen and National Right to Life Committee, are fighting against the Executive Branch Lobbying Reform Act, which was recently moved to the full House by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), would require that any contact between citizens or an organization’s lobbyist with a political appointee in the executive branch be recorded in a government database and accessible on the Internet. The bill calls for groups to file quarterly reports to the Senate, detailing all of its lobbying activity with lawmakers — including trips and phone calls — or face penalties. Grass-roots lobbying limitations that would require disclosure of communication between individuals and lobbying groups and members of Congress are expected to be introduced when Congress returns next week. Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, says the act would “impede the ability of issue-oriented grass-roots groups to communicate effectively with both the general public and with government officials. “These proposals would seriously interfere with the activities of groups that keep the public informed about what is going on in Congress, and with the ability of citizen groups to effectively represent the views of their memberships to government officials.” — Osita Iroegbu
Game On, Again The Poker Players Alliance is back at the table in hopes that this Congress will ease its restrictions on online gambling. The alliance recently signed on Patton Boggs lobbyists Darryl Nirenberg and James Reeder to push Congress to pass legislation defining poker “as a game of skill and other legislation favorable to poker players,” according to Senate lobbying records. Patton Boggs is no newbie to the online gambling feuds. Up until this year, the firm had been lobbying against the ban on behalf of Internet gaming company SportingBet. Lobbyists might have an easier time this �go round, with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) already proposing to roll back the ban on Internet gambling. The pro-ban lobby spent millions of dollars last year and successfully got Congress to pass the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which prohibits financial intermediaries such as Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal from processing payments for online-gambling companies. The law makes it illegal for American companies to accept proceeds from online gambling. The alliance, which paid lobbying firm Ogilvy Government Relations $540,000 last year to fight its losing battle, also recently hired Park Strategies lobbyists, including Bradley Blakeman, Armand D’Amato, and Alfonse D’Amato, who once served as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. — Osita Iroegbu
Off the Radar Just three years into building its Washington presence, Internet telephone company Vonage isn’t looking to its lobbyists to help bail it out of a predicament that threatens its very existence. The company was ordered to pay $58 million to Verizon March 23 after U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ruled that Vonage had infringed on three patents held by Verizon. Vonage was also ordered to stop using the Verizon technology. Vonage is trying to develop a way to work around utilizing the disputed patents. Just days before that ruling, Vonage’s chief executive officer, Mike Snyder, hailed a separate court decision supporting a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission, an agency long lobbied by Vonage. The FCC exempted Internet telephone companies like Vonage from rate regulation and from being required to seek certification prior to offering service. “We’re not doing any lobbying at all at this point” regarding the current litigation, says Kate Hahn, Vonage’s public relations director. “We may identify opportunities to lobby Congress as we move forward” in the appeals process. Frank Cavaliere, vice president of federal regulatory affairs at Vonage, works as the company’s in-house counsel. Any additional lobbying regarding the Verizon lawsuit this year could pile onto the $1.3 million the company spent in 2006 lobbying the House, Senate, and the FCC on legislation like the Advanced Internet Communications Services Act and Consumer Choice and Broadband Deployment Act. Dutko Worldwide, Nickles Group, Fritts Group, Gage, and Winning Strategies were hired to work their magic for Vonage on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies. The company terminated its work with Haake & Associates during 2006. Lobbyists Timothy Haake and Nathan Olsen had been hired in 2004 to lobby telecommunications issues on behalf of the company. — Osita Iroegbu
• HEARD ON THE STREET • • “The message is, build on the current farm bill. By and large, it’s working well.” — Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, on farmers’ views on the upcoming farm bill (Fargo Forum) • “Nobody has ever asked [the Iraqi] government, duly elected, to vote. . . . If they want the United States in their country, it immediately gives a degree of legitimacy.” — Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, Republican presidential candidate, on how he would lead the U.S. war effort (Dallas Morning News) • “We all pretty much have an idea what the range of options is, and we’re getting down to the point where we are going to have to start choosing.” — Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), about the upcoming immigration reform debate (Houston Chronicle)

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