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Paper Gains, Losses Last year’s lobbying and ethics reform bill has been widely predicted to take a bit of the glitz out of how lobbyists ply their trade, creating rules for how they bill parties and the type of hors d’oeuvres served at them. But could the changes also affect the yearly revenue numbers they post? Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Kenneth Gross, one of the most visible campaign and lobbying regulation attorneys, believes they just might. In advance of this year’s Feb. 14 deadline for year-end lobbying disclosures — the last before the new filing rules take effect in April — Gross has been averaging around five speaking engagements a week. “I think that people are now focused on dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s,” Gross says. At his presentations, he’s often asked as much about what old lobbying and ethics laws require as he is about last year’s changes. For many corporate filers, he suggests, the extra diligence may uncover hidden lobbying expenses. Given that lobbying is often looked at negatively by those outside Washington, Gross says many businesses may find themselves uncomfortable reporting the true number of zeroes they’re spending to influence the government. An opposite effect could occur at some lobbying firms, he suggests, if they’ve been sneaking grass-roots or PR revenue into the lobbying column in order to “look like they’ll make more money and be on some special list.” Others who follow lobbying disclosure aren’t quite as sure the new rules will mean noticeable changes in the revenues filed. “In terms of actual dollar amounts, there’s still potential for these numbers to be a little squishy,” says the Center for Public Integrity’s Massie Ritsch. Still, he’s a fan of the quarterly deadlines. “Having this information reported more frequently, so that the public can know what’s happening in the moment, or at least a few months from the moment, is a great improvement,” he says. — Jeff Horwitz
Stimulating One might expect the announcement of a $100 billion-plus government giveaway to be the bell opening a 12-round boxing match on K Street. But the economic stimulus package approved by the House last week has escaped that fate — so far. “Everyone’s got concerns about the economy,” says Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy for the National Association of Manufacturers. “I suspect it will all shake out and there will be a package that the entire business community will come behind.” That doesn’t mean that particular interests are staying outside the fray. Some of the organizations backing the current stimulus plan have pitched other economic remedies, as well. Bill Rys, tax counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, concedes that some of the items on his organization’s wish list, like a tax deduction for home offices, would be far more useful to his small-business members than they would be to others. But by and large, he says, the NFIB will be pleased with any package that involves tax write-offs for equipment purchases or depreciation. With so much at stake, he says, the federation and its fellow associations are taking care not to fight one another too much. “These investment incentives largely seem to have support all around,” he says. — Jeff Horwitz
Speak Softly It didn’t take much for the Fritts Group to expand its lobbying team by 25 percent: The firm picked up one lobbyist. Ken Inouye, former senior government affairs director of the Entertainment Software Association, will join the small but potent firm in mid-February. Inouye, the son of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), will be the only member of the team who didn’t work under Eddie Fritts during the lobbyist’s 23-year reign as head of the National Association of Broadcasters. Since setting out on his own in 2006, Fritts has built a roster of nine high-dollar clients in the communications field, all with a retainer of at least $320,000 a year. The boutique hasn’t been shouting about its success — or its new hire. “We didn’t send out a release or anything,” says Fritts Group lobbyist Kathleen Ramsey of Inouye. “This is a small town — people will figure it out.” — Jeff Horwitz

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