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New Republican lawmakers are hiring lobbyists, despite campaign rhetoric; Stutzman Hires Harris December 13, 2010

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2010 Mid-term Election & Candidates, Uncategorized.
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Editor’s Note:  Some of our new members of the Indiana Congressional delegation are also following this national trend of hiring lobbyists.  Marlin Stutzman has hired Tim Harris according to the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette. Following this update is an article from the Washington Post reporting on this trend that points out that Dan Coats who was elected to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate is a former lobbyist himself. Last, there is an article from the Campaign Legal Center that outlines a course of action to address such potential conflicts. This is a three-part blog post. Be sure to read to the end to see recommendations on how to address this national trend. Laura Ann Arnold
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Published: December 2, 2010 3:00 a.m.

Stutzman hires chief of staff

Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette

WASHINGTON – Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said Wednesday he hired a federal energy lobbyist and former Statehouse colleague to be his top lieutenant.

Tim Harris, executive director of the Indiana Utility Shareholders Association, will be Stutzman’s chief of staff in Washington. Harris was Stutzman’s seatmate in the Indiana House before Harris was defeated in 2008. He represented the Marion area.

The trade association, made up of stockholders of investor-owned gas and electric utilities in Indiana including American Electric Power, Duke Energy, NiSource and Vectren, registered Harris to lobby Congress last year and this year on cap-and-trade legislation, carbon emission rules and dividend and capital gains taxes. Harris lobbied Congress only for the Indiana group.

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New Republican lawmakers are hiring lobbyists, despite campaign rhetoric

By Dan Eggen

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 8, 2010; 10:52 PM

During his campaign to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate, GOP nominee Ron Johnson accused Democratic incumbent Russell Feingold (D) of being “on the side of special interests and lobbyists.”

“After promising voters that he would reform the culture of lobbying in Washington, instead Senator Feingold embraced lobbyists and declared himself to be on their side,” a Johnson spokeswoman said at the time.

But after defeating Feingold, Johnson himself has turned to K Street for help – hiring homeland security lobbyist Donald H. Kent Jr. as his chief of staff.

Johnson is not alone: Many incoming GOP lawmakers have hired registered lobbyists as senior aides. Several of the candidates won with strong support from the anti-establishment tea party movement.

These cases illustrate the endurance of Washington’s traditional power structure, even in the wake of an election dominated by insurgent rhetoric. In addition to hiring lobbyists, many newly elected House Republicans have begun holding big-dollar fundraisers in Washington to pay off debts and begin preparing for 2012.

In addition to Johnson, Sen.-elect Mike Lee (Utah) has announced that energy lobbyist Spencer Stokes will be his chief of staff. Tea party favorite Rand Paul (Ky.) has hired anti-union lobbyist Douglas Stafford as his top senatorial aide.

In the House, Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (N.H.) has named food industry lobbyist John W. Billings as his chief of staff. Billings was a senior aide to Bass during an earlier stint on Capitol Hill.

Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack (Minn.) has hired former U.S. senator and former lobbyist Rod Grams as his interim chief of staff, though aides have said the posting is probably not permanent. Grams’s lobbying clients from 2002 to 2006 included 3M, Norfolk Southern and the Financial Services Roundtable, records show.

Other incoming GOP lawmakers who have recruited staff from K Street include Robert Dold (Ill.), Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Jeff Denham (Calif.). John Goodwin of the National Rifle Association, one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying groups, has signed on as chief of staff for Rep.-elect Raul Labrador (Idaho).

Voters in Indiana chose a former lobbyist, Dan Coats, to represent them for a second time in the Senate. But Coats, also a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, has hired a non-lobbyist as his chief of staff.

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for the Public Citizen watchdog group, said hiring senior aides from K Street gives their former corporate clients an unfair advantage.

“Lobbyists for the most part are hired guns that represent corporations and other special interests that pay for them,” Holman said. “Those lobbyists now have direct access to the political agenda of these lawmakers.”

But aides to several GOP lawmakers disagreed, saying these staffers were hired for their expertise and will not grant any special favors to former clients.

“Congressman Bass demands all staff adhere to all House rules and ethics guidelines,” said Bass spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne. He added that Billings, who has lobbied for the Food Marketing Institute since 2006, “will lead by example.”

Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign manager, said that Stafford “is not a lobbyist in the sense that people think,” because he worked for a conservative advocacy group, the National Right to Work Committee. His stint included guiding the group’s campaign against “card check” legislation favored by unions, Benton said.

“Senator Paul wants principled people on his staff that actually care about the ideas that he’s going to fight for in the U.S. Senate, and that’s what Doug has done,” Benton said.

In Utah, Lee’s new chief of staff is the owner of Stokes Strategies, a Salt Lake City-based lobbying and communications firm. Lee spokesman Boyd Matheson said Stokes’s lobbying background was “not a concern” because most of his work was done in Utah rather than Washington, and because the incoming senator has declared his opposition to earmarks.

Kent, Johnson’s new chief of staff, is a former Republican legislative aide and Department of Homeland Security official who went on to head the homeland security practice at Navigators Global. Kent’s lobbying clients have included Tyco International, AT&T, UPS, CSX and LCS Corrections Services, among others, disclosure records show.

Neither Kent’s nor Johnson’s office responded to requests for comment.

Lobbying for lobbyists

What the beleaguered lobbying profession needs, one group has decided, is a good lobbyist.

The American League of Lobbyists, a small professional group, unveiled a public relations campaign this month aimed at defending the decency and necessity of the much-maligned profession. The effort includes a video that bills lobbying, from grass-roots organizers to paid advocates on K Street, as “your constitutional right.”

“Lobbying is an essential part of our political process,” the ad’s narrator says. “It gives people a voice and helps average Americans navigate the complex waters of the legislative and regulatory process.”

The lobbying league’s effort is aimed in part at pushing back against a tide of restrictions on lobbying implemented by the Obama administration, which has made criticizing K Street and other “special interests” a key part of its political message over the past two years.

The Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group, responded with its own “mashup” version of the ad, replete with statistics about the growing influence of K Street in Washington.

The video concludes: “Now that corporations, unions, and individuals can spend unlimited sums of money on influencing politics, we need real transparency on the activities of lobbyists more than ever.”

Original story http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/08/AR2010120806221.html?hpid=topnews

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Dec 8, 2010

The Hill: GOP freshman class draws K Street talent

 
By: Kevin Bogardus
 

Lobbyists are being lured back to Capitol Hill as the huge class of freshman lawmakers searches for experienced hands to help it transition into Congress. 

At least nine federally registered lobbyists have accepted offers to become chiefs of staff to newly elected Republican House members and senators, according to a review of press releases and media reports as well as interviews by The Hill. 

The migration from K Street to Capitol Hill shows that at least some of the newly elected lawmakers are establishing strong ties to the Washington establishment, despite claims that the next Congress — and its class of Tea Party-affiliated outsiders — will shun the old ways of doing business. 

Rep.-elect Robert Dold (R) of Illinois, for example, has hired Eric Burgeson, a vice president at BGR Group, to be his chief of staff. BGR is a prominent Republican-leaning lobby shop that was co-founded by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R). 

Burgeson, formerly a Bush White House aide and Energy Department chief of staff, is an Illinois native who knows Dold’s congressional district well. The lobbyist called Dold a “longtime friend” and said they first met doing advance work for then-Sen. Bob Dole’s (R-Kan.) 1996 presidential campaign.

Burgeson will not be the only lobbyist joining Capitol Hill’s ranks next year. 

John Goodwin of the National Rifle Association will be chief of staff to Rep.-elect Raul Labrador (R-Idaho.); Don Kent of Navigators Global will lead Sen.-elect Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) office; John Billings with the Food Marketing Institute will be chief of staff to Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (R-N.H.); and Todd Willens, who has lobbied at Vitello Consulting, will be chief of staff to Rep.-elect Steve Pearce (R-N.M.). 

Despite the prospect of less pay and longer hours, several lobbyists told The Hill that working in the new Congress was too exciting a chance to miss.

Jason Larrabee, founder of Jason Larrabee Ventures, said he couldn’t pass up a job as chief of staff to Rep.-elect Jeff Denham (R-Calif.). The lobbyist said public service still interested him, which is why he decided to return to Capitol Hill (he’d worked previously for former California Republican Reps. John Doolitte and Doug Ose).

“The reason I came back is I still believe in serving the people. Chief of staff is one of the positions that I can do that, and I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity with Mr. Denham,” Larrabee said. 

Larrabee lobbied for several local California water agencies and an energy research and development company this year, according to lobbying disclosure records. 

Like Larrabee, Spencer Stokes, president of Stokes Strategies, said he wanted to get into government to help change how Washington works. He will be the chief of staff for Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-Utah). 

“I have always been a grassroots guy. I have a great amount of heartburn over the size of government, the fact that the federal government has gotten out of control,” Stokes said. “Although it is a cut in pay, I can survive and I can live. In life, there are only a few opportunities that present themselves where you really can make a difference.”

There is nothing in law or congressional ethics rules that specifically prevents former lobbyists from interacting with their ex-clients while employed on Capitol Hill. The 2007 ethics law mandates only a “cooling-off” period for congressional aides who head to K Street; that law bans former aides from lobbying their colleagues for a period of time. 

President Obama did sign an executive order early in his term that slowed the revolving door by stopping political appointments of lobbyists in his administration, though a waiver process was put in place to allow exceptions. That order, however, has no effect on Congress.

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, said “there is good news and bad news” when hiring lobbyists as Capitol Hill aides. One positive aspect is lawmakers are “hiring someone who is savvy in the ways of Washington.”

“As we can see from many ethics cases, the chief of staff really sets the tone for what goes on in that office. … That is probably the most critical hire,” McGehee said. 

But for a new lawmaker, hiring a lobbyist as an aide can also raise the potential for a conflict of interest between his or her former clients and the lawmaker’s agenda.

“As a chief of staff to a new member of Congress, you could do something to really help them,” McGehee said. “You have to be very careful not to do private bidding in public office.”

The ethics watchdog recommends that new congressional offices establish a written policy whereby former lobbyists share their client lists with lawmakers. McGeehe also says former lobbyists should recuse themselves from any issues involving those clients. 

Some of the congressional hires already seem to be following McGehee’s advice. 

Burgeson said that as Dold’s chief of staff, he would abstain from working on “matters of substance” involving former clients.

“Regarding working with former clients, it will be policy that staffers (including myself) may not work on matters of substance with former clients, and all substantive inquiries from former clients must be referred to a non-affiliated staff member for consideration,” Burgeson said in an e-mail to The Hill.

According to lobbying disclosure records, Burgeson’s lobbying clients included the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China, Southern Company Services and the enriched-uranium supplier USEC, among others. 

Tim Harris, the future chief of staff to Rep.-elect Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), said he was “comfortable” in not being allowed to communicate with his former client. 

“There is a lot of conversations with the congressman that we will have,” Harris said. “So if that’s a policy we feel we need to put into place, I’m comfortable with that.”

Harris and Stutzman served together in the Indiana state legislature. Harris will give up his job as executive director of the Indiana Utility Shareholders Association to join Stutzman’s team. 

Harris does not consider himself at risk of a conflict of interest due to the nature of his trade group. 

“I lobbied for one small association. We didn’t have a PAC. Our style of lobbying has been pretty laid-back,” Harris said. 

Stokes said Lee’s position on pet projects will make it easy for him to avoid any conflicts of interest while working in the Senate. His federal lobbying work was finding federal funds for a Utah state university and a county government. 

“Our stated policy is we are not going to be asking for earmarks, so that makes it pretty clear-cut on how I am going to deal with former clients,” Stokes said.

 

Dec 8, 2010 — The Hill: GOP freshman class draws K Street talent

By: Kevin Bogardus, Campaign Legal Center
 

Lobbyists are being lured back to Capitol Hill as the huge class of freshman lawmakers searches for experienced hands to help it transition into Congress. 

At least nine federally registered lobbyists have accepted offers to become chiefs of staff to newly elected Republican House members and senators, according to a review of press releases and media reports as well as interviews by The Hill. 

The migration from K Street to Capitol Hill shows that at least some of the newly elected lawmakers are establishing strong ties to the Washington establishment, despite claims that the next Congress — and its class of Tea Party-affiliated outsiders — will shun the old ways of doing business. 

Rep.-elect Robert Dold (R) of Illinois, for example, has hired Eric Burgeson, a vice president at BGR Group, to be his chief of staff. BGR is a prominent Republican-leaning lobby shop that was co-founded by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R). 

Burgeson, formerly a Bush White House aide and Energy Department chief of staff, is an Illinois native who knows Dold’s congressional district well. The lobbyist called Dold a “longtime friend” and said they first met doing advance work for then-Sen. Bob Dole’s (R-Kan.) 1996 presidential campaign.

Burgeson will not be the only lobbyist joining Capitol Hill’s ranks next year. 

John Goodwin of the National Rifle Association will be chief of staff to Rep.-elect Raul Labrador (R-Idaho.); Don Kent of Navigators Global will lead Sen.-elect Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) office; John Billings with the Food Marketing Institute will be chief of staff to Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (R-N.H.); and Todd Willens, who has lobbied at Vitello Consulting, will be chief of staff to Rep.-elect Steve Pearce (R-N.M.). 

Despite the prospect of less pay and longer hours, several lobbyists told The Hill that working in the new Congress was too exciting a chance to miss.

Jason Larrabee, founder of Jason Larrabee Ventures, said he couldn’t pass up a job as chief of staff to Rep.-elect Jeff Denham (R-Calif.). The lobbyist said public service still interested him, which is why he decided to return to Capitol Hill (he’d worked previously for former California Republican Reps. John Doolitte and Doug Ose).

“The reason I came back is I still believe in serving the people. Chief of staff is one of the positions that I can do that, and I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity with Mr. Denham,” Larrabee said. 

Larrabee lobbied for several local California water agencies and an energy research and development company this year, according to lobbying disclosure records. 

Like Larrabee, Spencer Stokes, president of Stokes Strategies, said he wanted to get into government to help change how Washington works. He will be the chief of staff for Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-Utah). 

“I have always been a grassroots guy. I have a great amount of heartburn over the size of government, the fact that the federal government has gotten out of control,” Stokes said. “Although it is a cut in pay, I can survive and I can live. In life, there are only a few opportunities that present themselves where you really can make a difference.”

There is nothing in law or congressional ethics rules that specifically prevents former lobbyists from interacting with their ex-clients while employed on Capitol Hill. The 2007 ethics law mandates only a “cooling-off” period for congressional aides who head to K Street; that law bans former aides from lobbying their colleagues for a period of time. 

President Obama did sign an executive order early in his term that slowed the revolving door by stopping political appointments of lobbyists in his administration, though a waiver process was put in place to allow exceptions. That order, however, has no effect on Congress.

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, said “there is good news and bad news” when hiring lobbyists as Capitol Hill aides. One positive aspect is lawmakers are “hiring someone who is savvy in the ways of Washington.”

“As we can see from many ethics cases, the chief of staff really sets the tone for what goes on in that office. … That is probably the most critical hire,” McGehee said. 

But for a new lawmaker, hiring a lobbyist as an aide can also raise the potential for a conflict of interest between his or her former clients and the lawmaker’s agenda.

“As a chief of staff to a new member of Congress, you could do something to really help them,” McGehee said. “You have to be very careful not to do private bidding in public office.”

The ethics watchdog recommends that new congressional offices establish a written policy whereby former lobbyists share their client lists with lawmakers. McGeehe also says former lobbyists should recuse themselves from any issues involving those clients. 

Some of the congressional hires already seem to be following McGehee’s advice. 

Burgeson said that as Dold’s chief of staff, he would abstain from working on “matters of substance” involving former clients.

“Regarding working with former clients, it will be policy that staffers (including myself) may not work on matters of substance with former clients, and all substantive inquiries from former clients must be referred to a non-affiliated staff member for consideration,” Burgeson said in an e-mail to The Hill.

According to lobbying disclosure records, Burgeson’s lobbying clients included the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China, Southern Company Services and the enriched-uranium supplier USEC, among others. 

Tim Harris, the future chief of staff to Rep.-elect Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), said he was “comfortable” in not being allowed to communicate with his former client. 

“There is a lot of conversations with the congressman that we will have,” Harris said. “So if that’s a policy we feel we need to put into place, I’m comfortable with that.”

Harris and Stutzman served together in the Indiana state legislature. Harris will give up his job as executive director of the Indiana Utility Shareholders Association to join Stutzman’s team. 

Harris does not consider himself at risk of a conflict of interest due to the nature of his trade group. 

“I lobbied for one small association. We didn’t have a PAC. Our style of lobbying has been pretty laid-back,” Harris said. 

Stokes said Lee’s position on pet projects will make it easy for him to avoid any conflicts of interest while working in the Senate. His federal lobbying work was finding federal funds for a Utah state university and a county government. 

“Our stated policy is we are not going to be asking for earmarks, so that makes it pretty clear-cut on how I am going to deal with former clients,” Stokes said.

 Original article http://www.campaignlegalcenter.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1216:the-hill-gop-freshman-class-draws-k-street-talent-12-8-2010&catid=64&Itemid=62

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Comments»

1. K. L. - December 13, 2010

As detailed as your stories are, I am assuming you did a background check on Tim Harris, Marlin Stutzman’s chief of staff. If so, you know Tim Harris served on the Indiana Family
Institute Board for many years. He also served as a State Representative and was one of the champions for strong Pro-Life, Pro-Family legislation with Marlin at the State House. He attended Indiana Wesleyan University, has run a small business for many years, and is a Godly
Christian. He has served as an assistant Mayor, a County Republican Chairman, and is well-respected in his community. He has been working for
Indiana energy companies for only a short time in comparison. It’s this kind of unbalanced reporting that gives the wrong impression of people. I am not one of Marlin’s staff or ever have been. Neither am I a relative. I am merely a supporter who voted with him and stand with him, knowing the full story.

2. TWiE Episode 55. Temperature Check | This Week in Energy (TWiEpodcast) - April 4, 2012

[…] New Republican lawmakers are hiring lobbyists, despite campaign rhetoric; Stutzman Hires Harris […]


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