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Following Fred Fred Thompson says he’s looking to run a presidential campaign based on a groundswell of grass-roots support. But in a crowded GOP race, Thompson’s already counting on his Washington ties, which go back to his days as co-chief counsel for the Senate’s Watergate investigation and his time as a lawmaker, to build his campaign’s brain trust and fund-raising operation. So far, Thompson, whose lobbying career started in 1975 and included a stint at Arent Fox, has lined up a cadre of Washington support, starting with his chief operating officer, Thomas Collamore. Collamore, former assistant secretary of the Commerce Department, is better known inside the halls of Congress as Big Tobacco’s go-to lobbyist since 1992. On the policy side, Thompson’s counting on former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.), now of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, to help formulate domestic policy. Mary Matalin, former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, is also serving as an adviser. Mark Corallo, a former aide to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, is his spokesman. And while it may be late in the game to try to round up the remaining Bush Pioneers and Rangers, Thompson’s also got K Street backers, coming largely from his days in Congress. They include Michael Madigan, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Eric Ueland of the Duberstein Group; and Thomas Daffron of the Jefferson Consulting Group. Thompson got to know Madigan when he served as Thompson’s chief counsel during the campaign finance investigation before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Daffron, who consults for clients like LexisNexis and Unisys, is a former Thompson chief of staff. And although Thompson has shied away from putting into place the campaign apparatus of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), he has found friends among loyal Frist aides such as former Frist chief of staff Ueland. He’s also counting on congressional support from Republican Reps. Don Manzullo (Ill.) and Steve Buyer (Ind.). Despite the organizing, Thompson hasn’t made a fund-raising push in Washington. So far, GOP lobbyists say their inboxes have remained remarkably free of Thompson fund-raising invitations. But they say it’s only a matter of time, with Thompson expected to officially enter the race over the July 4 recess. “This is not necessarily going to be a traditional campaign. Support out of Washington is no doubt important, but not overly important,” says Ueland. — Anna Palmer
Expanding Coverage Legislation extending insurance coverage for acts of terrorism is making some insurance companies nervous. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act of 2007, introduced by House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) last week, calls for private insurers to cover domestic and international nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological terrorist attacks for the next 10 years. But groups like the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, which lobbied on the terrorism insurance legislation last year, is concerned that the bill could potentially lead to grave financial challenges for small- and medium-sized private insurers who do not provide coverage for the types of terrorism named in the legislation. The association hired Valis & Keelen lobbyists Matthew Keelen, a former Republican fund-raising and political consultant, Michael Falencki, former deputy chief of staff to Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Aimee Nichols, former legislative assistant at the Investment Company Institute, the trade association for the mutual fund industry, and Eric Dell, who previously served as the chief of staff and counsel to Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), according to Senate lobbying records released earlier this month. “At the outset, insurers would need to quickly raise large amounts of capital to cover an utterly unpredictable risk whose potential loss costs are staggeringly high and variable — somewhere between $27.3 billion and $778.1 billion,” said a letter the National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos. sent last month to the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees. — Osita Iroegbu
Power Play The reason why some major corporations don’t often seek out black lobbyists is because they don’t know how to find them, at least that’s what some at the Washington Government Relations Group often hear. To remedy that, the nonprofit organization of black lobbyists and government relations professionals is working on a directory of African-American lobbyists, which should be ready by the end of July. Anticipating a growth in the power of the Congressional Black Caucus after the Democratic sweep last fall, Richard Mattox, name partner at Mattox Woolfolk, initiated the idea. “We came out with more experience than many of our white counterparts but aren’t afforded the same opportunity,” says Mattox, a past president of the WGRG who served as legislative director to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). “When most folk write or talk about power players, we’re never mentioned. With the rise of the CBC, our value is much greater. Lobbying is a billion-dollar industry, and we want to make it known that we exist.” The WGRG has a current database of about 300 black lobbyists. The group plans to post the directory on its Web site and circulate it among other government relations groups, companies, and the media. — Osita Iroegbu

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