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Reforms Gain Speed Just when K Street dared to believe it might have heard the last of lobby reform, the issue — spurred on by grass-roots and public-interest organizations — makes an unexpected return to the legislative agenda this week. Craig Holman, a legislative representative for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog group, says that while he does not know the exact nature of the bill, he’s hopeful it will include language regulating lobbyists engaged in grass-roots activities, as well as provisions requiring lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they bundle for members of Congress. In fact, no one in the lobby reform community is quite sure what will be in the new bill. That includes Fred Wertheimer, the issue’s most ardent champion and president of Democracy 21. While Wertheimer continues to make rounds on Capitol Hill, he says that there will be no hearings on the measure — it’s slated to go directly to the House Judiciary Committee for a markup. The Democratic leadership has told him there will be a floor vote in mid-May. “The bundling provision is a critical test for us to determine whether they are serious about lobby reform,” Wertheimer says. In other sunshine news, the Justice Department, long chastised for dragging its feet in putting the Foreign Agents Registration Act database online, is finally preparing to do just that. Well, sometime in the next several months anyway. Dean Boyd, a Justice spokesman, declined to disclose specifics, saying only that Justice is trying to get it online as soon as possible. According to a recent news report from The Hill, Justice will likely have the entire database, which lists lobbyists representing foreign governments and politicians, online in three to four months. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) has been pushing the department for more public disclosure of its records, which can only be viewed by visiting the department’s reading room. Barry Bennett, Schmidt’s chief of staff, says his boss became interested in the issue early last year when the House was working to put lobbying disclosure forms online. She became alerted to the FARA situation by reporters and soon demanded that FARA go online, too. If the database is not online by June, Schmidt is expected to reintroduce legislation that would force Justice to take action. In January, Schmidt introduced such legislation but pulled it after receiving assurances from the department that it would take care of the matter, Bennett says. — Joe Crea
Power Outage Dutko Worldwide lost part of its stable of energy clients earlier this year, including Dominion Resources and National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. Those losses follow the departure of the American Chemistry Council at the end of 2006. Mark Irion, chief executive officer of Dutko, says that most of the terminations are “cleanup” and not clients rushing for the exit — though the firm recently lost energy lobbyist Stephen Brown. The firm had lobbied for the past couple of years on behalf of the ACC, working to overturn 25-year-old restrictions on offshore drilling in portions of the Gulf of Mexico. Lisa Harrison, vice president of communications for the ACC, says the firm was hired for a short period of time and that the ACC would work with Dutko again as the council wants to explore opening other regions for oil drilling. As far as Dominion and the NPRA leaving, Irion says those were clients that joined Dutko because of two lobbyists who no longer work at the firm — Brown and Robert Watson, who handled Virginia political work for Dominion and not energy matters. Irion maintains that the firm’s energy practice is still sound. He notes that Dutko has six energy lobbyists and recently hired Howard Berman, a former Environmental Protection Agency official, and Andy Wright, a longtime chief of staff to Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. — Joe Crea
Republican K Street? With Democrats in control of the House and Senate, isn’t now the perfect time for Republican partisans to start new lobbying operations? Irony aside, that’s what many are doing. Fresh out of the gate is Michael Jimenez, a Republican lobbyist who has left Strategic Impact, a firm he co-founded with his Democratic counterpart, Pat Mitchell, to go out on his own. “Is this a tough or rough time to start a new venture? I don’t think it truly is,” Jimenez says. “Clearly, there’s an opportunity with the administration still being Republican and the rules and regulations that clients need help with.” Jimenez has taken two clients with him: Mohave Electric Cooperative and Pinnacle West Capital Corp. Jimenez’s new venture is named GMD and Associates, after his children Gregory, Mark, and Daniel. “I’ve been spending money on them my whole life,” he jokes. Jimenez is not the only Republican lobbyist testing out solo opportunities. In March, James Hirni left Cassidy & Associates to start his own shop with fellow GOP chum Mike Haywood, a former in-house lobbyist for Duke Energy. Hirni declined to discuss the work he’s doing for his new venture, LTD Group. In other Cassidy-related news, the firm is still looking to replace the vacancy in its Brussels office created by Andreas Geiger, who left Cassidy & Associates Europe at the end of March to set up his own shop, Alber & Geiger. Cassidy’s European branch employed six lawyers, all of whom moved with Geiger. A Cassidy spokesman, Tom Alexander, says that the search to replace Geiger is ongoing. He declined to say if they would promote someone in-house. — Joe Crea
Growing the Shop With hot-button issues like patent reform front and center in Congress, Foley & Lardner is bulking up its lobbying operations to prepare for an anticipated increase in companies seeking help on both sides of the legislative divide. That’s why the firm recently hired a former general counsel of the House Judiciary Committee, Phillip Kiko, who left Capitol Hill this month after serving for nearly three decades there. “Our clients will enjoy the benefits of Phil’s bipartisan relationships and unique insight into public policy and key issues, particularly in the areas of patent reform, bankruptcy reform, immigration reform, and class action reform,” says Rick Weiss, managing partner of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. Kiko worked closely with the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), and had a hand in legislation such as class action reform and immigration reform. Kiko, who joins as counsel, is expected to bolster the firm’s white-collar defense and corporate compliance capabilities on congressional investigations. — Osita Iroegbu
• HEARD ON THE STREET • • “We’re taking longer than anyone expected. . . . But the more important thing is to have a good outcome and not something cosmetic.” — Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), on the struggle to craft lobbying reform with so many special interests weighing in (CQ Today) • “As I said at the White House, we can’t pass a bill over the president’s veto, and the president can’t pass a bill without our support. So we need to talk.” — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), on finding a compromise on the supplemental funding bill for the Iraq War (Roll Call) • “This partisan show trial is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.” — House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), denouncing the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subpoenaing the testimony of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, and e-mails White House officials composed on RNC accounts (The Hill)

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