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Mississippi Turning Since taking office in 2004, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has been frequently questioned about ongoing ties to his former lobbying firm, heavyweight Barbour Griffith & Rogers. Barbour claims he has totally severed his relationship with the firm, but that doesn’t mean the K Street powerhouse doesn’t have clients in the Magnolia state. In fact, it has established a little noticed Virginia-based entity that doesn’t have Barbour’s name on the door to handle clients that get funding from the state of Mississippi. In an e-mail, Loren Monroe, chief operating officer for the firm, says that “this was done out of the abundance of caution to avoid even the slightest appearance of any impropriety.” The doppelganger, Griffith & Rogers, was incorporated in February 2004, shortly after Barbour won the 2003 gubernatorial election. Lobbying disclosure records show that Griffith & Rogers now has three clients: the University of Mississippi, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and JRL Enterprises Inc., an educational software company based in New Orleans. Monroe is registered to lobby on their behalf, together with firm partners Ed Rogers and Lanny Griffith and appropriations expert Bill Viney. Griffith & Rogers lists the same mailing address and telephone number as Barbour Griffith & Rogers. Monroe says the company “shares the work of a limited number of BGR personnel.” Ole Miss and the University of Mississippi Medical Center had been BG&R clients since 1999, well before Barbour’s election as governor. JRL Enterprises had been a client of the firm since 2004, but registered with Griffith & Rogers this year. Griffith & Rogers reported $140,000 in lobbying revenue from the three clients at the midyear point. After winning the election, Barbour pledged to cut his ties to the firm and place his personal assets in a blind trust. But his last name still adorns BG&R’s letterhead, and various reports have questioned whether his trust is truly blind. A September story by The New Republic claimed that documents received from an anonymous source showed Barbour still has financial ties to the firm. Bloomberg News reported Barbour as saying his only firm income is a retirement payout unconnected to firm performance. Questions about Barbour’s connection to the firm prompted Lanny Griffith to release a statement this month saying that Barbour “is not an employee or officer of the firm and neither he nor his blind trust has an ownership interest in the firm.” � Carrie Levine
Sutherland’s Detour When Lisa Sutherland, longtime aide to Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, left Capitol Hill in March, she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that she intended to work for her boss’ 2008 re-election campaign. The plan was to return the powerful staffer to her roots: Her career in politics began in 1972, campaigning on Stevens’ behalf as a member of the Teenage Republicans. In the months since leaving the Hill, however, Sutherland seems to have become heavily engaged in matters far afield of Stevens’ re-election. She earned $20,000 lobbying for the National Business Aviation Association earlier this year, and lobby registrations posted this month show she’s since snagged the National Association of Broadcasters, the U.S. Telecom Association, Motorola, and the Discover America Partnership. She first listed her own name on the registration before crossing it out for “Creative Government Solutions.” One thing all the clients have in common is possible business in front of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where she was formerly the top staffer and her boss remains the highest-ranking Republican. Neither Sutherland nor Stevens’ campaign could be reached for comment about her new job, or any work she may be doing for the Stevens for Senate Committee. � Jeff Horwitz
Blobbyists Lobbyists at Cassidy & Associates are learning to press the digital flesh. The firm has revived a blog used by firm founder Gerald Cassidy earlier this year to respond to a series of articles about the firm in The Washington Post. The blog was dormant from mid-April to September. Cassidy Chief Operating Officer Gregg Hartley says the firm has repurposed the blog � now named Capitol Journal � to reach out to clients. “We started this blog as a defensive mechanism” to deal with the Post series, Hartley says. “Based on what we saw there…it was worth making our Web site more interactive by introducing a permanent ongoing blog effort and expanding it from Gerry’s voice to one that is more the voice of the firm.” Hartley says the firm is still trying to encourage employees to post, and has begun publishing daily analyses of politics and other issues, though the material isn’t archived. The firm is also planning to introduce online chats. � Carrie Levine

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