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Ciao, Carmen The Carmen Group has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against New York-based businessman Raffaello Follieri, a glamorous young Italian with a Hollywood girlfriend, whose business dealings have lately brought him a new kind of publicity. The suit, filed last month in D.C. Superior Court, alleges that Follieri hired the firm in May to provide media and public relations services and agreed to pay a $25,000-a-month retainer for one year. The account summary filed with the lawsuit shows a single $25,000 payment in June and more than $8,600 in unpaid expenses. The Carmen Group is asking the court to award more than $300,000 in unpaid fees, expenses, interest, and attorney fees. Richard Masterson, marketing director at the Carmen Group, confirms that the company is seeking payment and says, “We’re hoping to have the matter resolved.” Follieri and his company, the Follieri Group, are also facing a suit from the Los Angeles-based Yucaipa Cos. over whether Follieri misappropriated more than $1 million of Yucaipa’s investment in a plan to buy and redevelop properties owned by the Catholic Church. The Yucaipa lawsuit accuses Follieri of using the money to finance his own lavish lifestyle, according to a front-page story that appeared in The Wall Street Journal last month. The Journal story about the Yucaipa lawsuit noted that former President Bill Clinton, an adviser to Yucaipa, was involved in the deal, and raised questions about Follieri’s r�sum�. It also said that Follieri’s connection to the Clintons opened doors for him, garnering him meetings with potential investors. The Carmen Group’s contract with Follieri, filed as part of its lawsuit, suggests that Follieri sought out the firm’s counsel in part because of the falling-out with Yucaipa. The contract calls for the Carmen Group to provide media and public relations services, ranging from letters to the editor to vetting interview opportunities and acting as company spokesperson when appropriate. But it also notes that escalation of the Yucaipa dispute could influence the amount of work required from the Carmen Group. Follieri could not be reached for comment, and he has not yet responded to the court filing. He frequently appears in gossip magazines and photographs with his girlfriend, actress Anne Hathaway, star of movies such as “The Princess Diaries” and “The Devil Wears Prada.” Lately, though, the spotlight has been more on his business dealings than on the red carpet. — Carrie Levine
Smooth Ride Shirlington Limousine, which gained notoriety during the Randy “Duke” Cunningham lobbying scandal, now has lobbyists of its own. The Arlington-based transportation company, which allegedly ferried prostitutes to defense contractor Brent Wilkes’ poker soirees, has hired Davis Wright Tremaine in what appears to be an effort to help it regain $25 million in Homeland Security Department transportation contracts that it lost after the scandal. (The lobbying issue listed on the firms’ disclosure form is “HUBZone program policy,” which is the minority-owned and disadvantaged-business program under which Shirlington obtained its contracts in the first place.) While Shirlington owner Christopher Baker has a lengthy criminal rap sheet — Harper’s Magazine and Fox News both clocked it at 62 pages — the DWT attorneys and lobbyists his company has hired have sterling credentials. Among them are senior partner Weldon Latham and partner Michael Hatcher, who have practices blending lobbying, government contracting, and diversity law. DWT began work on Sept. 14, and things already appear to be looking up for Shirlington: The head of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), has suggested that cancelling Shirlington’s contract may be illegal, and other members have questioned its competitors’ credentials. Neither Shirlington nor DWT responded to calls for comment. — Jeff Horwitz
Taylor Made Former White House political director Sara Taylor is now the part-time D.C.-based executive director of corporate affairs for the Renewable Energy Group and has registered to lobby for the company. She confirms that she is also a partner at D.C.-based DMM Media, a Republican political consulting firm, and will concentrate on its new issue advocacy group. Taylor, a former senior aide who worked for President George W. Bush from early in his presidential bid until resigning in May, was intimately involved with the administration’s political strategy. She said she plans to do little lobbying but will be involved in shaping Renewable’s legislative agenda. The group, based in Taylor’s home state of Iowa, constructs and runs biodiesel facilities. “For me, this is about my home state, and this industry has done a tremendous amount of good things for the people of Iowa,” she says. Taylor says her work with DMM, which she joined in July, plays to her strengths in advertising and message development. — Carrie Levine

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