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A Lobbying Beef Podesta Group is suing a former client, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef of Arkansas City, Kansas, for breach of contract, accusing the company of failing to pay more than $175,000 in bills for lobbying and public relations services. The complaint, filed last month in D.C. Superior Court, says that Creekstone hired Podesta Group in April 2006 and agreed to pay a monthly retainer of $35,000. That agreement expired in September 2006, but Podesta says the firm kept working for Creekstone through March 2007 handling communications strategy and lobbying Congress, among other things. The firm is asking the court to award it $175,867.40 in unpaid bills and expenses, and interest charges that totaled $13,458.07 through the end of August, according to Podesta’s court filing. Podesta says they’ve billed Creekstone for the work, but haven’t gotten paid. A spokeswoman for Creekstone says she can’t comment on the suit. Creekstone’s Web site says they produce beef, including some premium Black Angus products, and sell them to customers both in the U.S. and abroad. Creekstone sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year, alleging that USDA was refusing to allow the company to voluntarily test its beef for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, otherwise known as mad cow disease. The case is still pending in court. In a press release issued when Creekstone filed the BSE lawsuit, the company’s then-CEO said Creekstone customers want beef that has been tested for BSE. In lobbying disclosure documents filed with the Senate, Podesta reports lobbying Congress on Creekstone’s behalf over voluntary testing for BSE. Podesta also reported lobbying Congress over appropriations bills, congressional oversight of USDA, and trade issues tied to BSE testing. Podesta Group filed a termination report for Creekstone in August, and said the termination took effect in March. Podesta Group referred questions to its attorney, Peter Kadzik of Dickstein Shapiro, who says Creekstone “just [hasn't] paid.” Lobbying registrations show that The William Miller Group registered Creekstone as a client in June, and that the firm plans to lobby on issues related to doing voluntary testing for BSE. — Carrie Levine
Kitchen Help Aaron Mullins, a newly registered lobbyist for the nonprofit D.C. Central Kitchen, won’t be working pro bono. “But it’s pretty close,” says Mullins, a former legislative assistant handling poverty and hunger issues for Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.). He’s just launched his own lobbying firm, Mullins Federal Relations, which counts two North Carolina medical businesses as its other clients. Part of his work for the combined kitchen and job skills training program for the homeless will be public relations, and promoting the D.C. Kitchen concept in other communities around the country. The organization’s president, Robert Egger, says he wanted to get more involved with legislation, but had a hard time negotiating Capitol Hill on his own. The current legislation at the top of the D.C. Central Kitchen’s menu is the FOOD Act, a bill providing seed money for “food rescue” organizations similar to D.C. Central Kitchen outside the District. One lobbying tactic, Mullins says, is getting former colleagues from the Hill to chip in a few hours at the Kitchen. He hopes to motivate some members of Congress to come and help serve as well. “It’s a special place, and once you’re down there, you understand that,” he says. — Jeff Horwitz
Dow Has Gains Dow Lohnes Government Strategies, the 6-month-old lobbying offshoot of the law firm, has hired two more staffers, including a former aide to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the assistant majority leader. The young firm represents Web retailer Overstock.com and St. Louis University, among others. Firm president Rick Kessler, a former chief of staff to Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), says the firm wants politically experienced staffers and “people who actually have expertise in areas.” Besides hiring Jessica Lenard, who worked on energy, environmental, and technology issues for Durbin, the firm also hired Bernie Schroeder, a longtime utilities lobbist and onetime chief of staff for former Rep. Bob Carr (D-Mich.), who is of counsel with Dow Lohnes. Chairman Ken Salomon — who is also a partner at the law firm — said the lobbying group’s growth will continue “as business warrants, and as we find people who will add to our balance and expertise and bipartisanship.” — Carrie Levine

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