With help from Daniel Lippman
PI REALITY TV CORNER: Former “Bachelor” lead Colton Underwood was on the Hill today not to hand out roses, but to press lawmakers on behalf of his nonprofit to boost access to youth mental health resources. The NFL player-turned-reality star launched the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation in 2015 to support people with cystic fibrosis, after a family member was diagnosed with the disease, and now “we are also expanding our focus to include mental health advocacy, focusing primarily on children and adolescents,” he told PI in a statement.
— The foundation has enlisted Annabell McWherter, Chris Gillott and Katie Wise of Invariant to help push the issue in Washington, according to a disclosure filed this week. Underwood, who has been open about his past mental health struggles, is meeting with members and senior staff from health care committees on the Hill, along with “those who have been active on issues related to student athlete mental health and suicide prevention,” issues he said “are meaningful to me personally.”
— One such meeting was with Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), a former college volleyball player and member of the Energy & Commerce Committee’s health panel and the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force.
— Underwood pointed to a spate of headlines about college athletes dying by suicide in recent years, and the pandemic in particular has sparked a renewed focus on access to mental health care, especially for kids and teenagers, in Washington.
— In particular Underwood said he is advocating for easing “regulatory hurdles that impact patients’ ability to see their preferred providers virtually, and solutions for addressing high rates of anxiety and depression among student athletes,” along with legislation that would promote school-based programs to address those issues, and programs to educate athletic staffers and coaches “on the unique mental health challenges student-athletes face so they can better support students as they navigate school and athletics.”
FLY-IN SZN (CONTINUED):Autos Drive America, which represents the U.S. operations of international auto manufacturers, held its second fly-in of the year today. The group’s president and CEO Jennifer Safavian, along with U.S. executives from BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo, met with Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) to discuss workforce development issues, EVs, trade and supply chains, and ensuring the U.S. auto industry’s competitive edge, the group said.
— The truckstop and travel plaza industry was on the Hill on Wednesday to huddle with lawmakers about major new investments coming in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, among other topics.
— Members from NATSO, which represents the industry, met with members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure, Senate Environment and Public Works and Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees to discuss ways that truck stops, travel centers, and fuel retailers “can profitably invest in electric vehicle charging stations and sell electricity” as DOT begins to dole out grants for EV charging infrastructure, according to the trade group.
— NATSO members also brought up complaints about what they see as a lack of parity between biodiesel tax credits and those for sustainable aviation fuel included in Democrats’ reconciliation bill, and urged lawmakers to support legislation aimed at increasing competition among credit card companies.
ICYMI — DEMS, AUTO INDUSTRY TURN A CORNER: POLITICO’s West Wing Playbook on Wednesday examined a potential thaw in the long and complicated relationship between the auto industry and Democratic party, as domestic automakers, which previously led the opposition to new environmental standards for the industry, now jockey to become global leaders in the EV wave.
— Your host found that the growing alliance, evidenced in President Joe Biden’s trip to the Detroit Auto Show to tout the new reconciliation bill, is seen in campaign donation figures, too. Ford and General Motors — the only two major domestic manufacturers with PACs — have historically directed more of their political contributions toward Republicans, according to data from OpenSecrets. Ford has continued that trend over the past decade.
— But in 2020, 58 percent of the General Motors PAC’s spending went to Democrats, according to OpenSecrets — up from 43 percent during the 2018 cycle and 40 percent during the 2016 cycle. So far this cycle, through the end of July, 52 percent of GM’s PAC money has flowed to Democrats.
— Toyota, whose U.S. subsidiary formed its PAC ahead of the 2014 midterms, has also given more to Democrats over the past two cycles after giving slightly more to Republicans previously, though the partisan spending gap has hovered between a few percentage points recently.
HOW 4 PRIVATE HEALTH ORGS STEERED GLOBAL COVID RESPONSE:POLITICO and German newspaper WELT have a major investigation out today detailing “a steady, almost inexorable shift in power from the overwhelmed governments” from the onset of Covid “to a group of non-governmental organizations” helmed by Bill Gates and his partners.
— “Armed with expertise, bolstered by contacts at the highest levels of Western nations and empowered by well-grooved relationships with drug makers, the four organizations took on roles often played by governments — but without the accountability of governments,” Erin Banco, Ashleigh Furlong and Lennart Pfahler write in the lengthy, but must-read piece.
— Collectively, the investigation reveals that the groups — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gavi, a global vaccine organization that Gates helped to found to inoculate people in low-income nations; the Wellcome Trust, a British research foundation with a multibillion dollar endowment that had worked with the Gates Foundation previously; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an international vaccine research and development group that Gates and Wellcome both helped to create in 2017 — “have spent nearly $10 billion since 2020 — the same amount as the leading U.S. agency charged with fighting Covid abroad.”
COINBASE COMES OUT AS BACKER OF CRYPTO 501(C)4: The crypto exchange Coinbase revealed yesterday that it is one of the companies backing a new advocacy group that is urging lawmakers to support industry-friendly policies — and calling out ones who don’t. PI reported last week that the Crypto Action Network has launched a nearly six-figure campaign to promote cryptocurrency on the heels of a market crash earlier this year.
— The group, which is not required to reveal its donors and declined to provide details last week, also launched a report card to grade lawmakers on their favorability to the industry. In a series of tweets Wednesday, Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s co-founder and chief executive, touted the new scoring system as “a new tool for the crypto community to learn about their elected officials,” part of a push to integrate the exchange’s “crypto policy efforts right into our app.”
— Along with allowing users to see where lawmakers land on crypto policy, Armstrong said Coinbase is unveiling tools to help users register to vote and “find out about local town hall events,” a potentially significant new effort to mobilize crypto backers leading up to the midterms.
CHIP GROUP EXPANDS: The American Semiconductor Innovation Coalition, a broad collection of semiconductor stakeholders that formed earlier this year to shape U.S. chips policy, has added three new members. NVIDIA, DuPont and GlobalFoundries are joining the group, which now says its members represent “all stages of the chipmaking supply chain” as the coalition prepares to fine-tune its vision for a new National Semiconductor Technology Center that will be created thanks to new funding in the CHIPS and Science Act.
— The coalition already included companies like IBM, Microsoft and Micron as well as universities like MIT, Howard University and the University of Michigan and is pushing for the Commerce Department to select it to help stand up new semiconductor research and development hubs.
— Natalie Armijo is now a strategist with Federal Street Strategies. She most recently was a senior adviser to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
— Cecilia Narrett is now a development associate at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She most recently was a humane educator at Farm Sanctuary.
— Jessica Medeiros Garrison has been named president of the Land Betterment Exchange and LBX Carbon Offsets. She most recently was vice president of government affairs at Clearview AI and is the former executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association.
— Joni Lupovitz has joined NCTA — TheInternet & Television Association as vice president and associate general counsel. She was most recently senior director of public policy at NPR and is an FTC alum.
— Nathan Fisher is now government affairs PAC manager at Amgen. He previously was senior manager of public policy and APAC at the American Society of Association Executives.
— John Fisher has joined Trident DMG as an account manager. He was most recently an account executive at ROKK Solutions.
— The Consumer Bankers Association has elected Ryan Bailey as chair of its board of directors. Bailey is head of retail banking at USAA.
— Deborah Connor has joined Morrison & Foerster as a partner in the litigation department focusing on anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act matters. She was most recently chief of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section at DOJ.
— Prologue has added Jonathan Coaxum as a senior associate and Evan Wagner as an associate in the D.C. office and promoted Johnathan Mills to director of research in the L.A. office. Coaxum was previously a program analyst at Pinnacle Federal Advisory, and Wagner previously managed data analytics for Yakera.
— Bobby Panzenbeck is now a director at MikeWorldWide. He most recently was a director at DCI Group.
Franken Victory Fund (Michael Franken for Iowa, Inc, Iowa Democratic Party)
Ohio Senate Victory 2022 (Rep. Tim Ryan, DSCC)
Service and Honor (Rep. Jake Ellzey, 31 Days PAC)
Vicente Gonzalez Victory Fund (Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, Texas Democratic Party)
Friends of Longevity PAC (PAC)
GRANITE LEADERSHIP PAC (Leadership PAC: Robert Burns)
Lehigh Valley for All (PAC)
OCEAN STATE PAC (Super PAC)
Value Our Democracy (Super PAC)
Capitol Decisions, Inc.: The Voices Project
Cfm Strategic Communications (Conkling Fiskum & Mccormick): Peace Health
Hanka Advisor LLC: Mannik & Smith Group On Behalf Of The Road Commission For Oakland County
Husch Blackwell Strategies: Grayrobinson (On Behalf Of Brevard County, Fl)
Husch Blackwell Strategies: Grayrobinson (On Behalf Of Escambia County, Fl)
Invariant LLC: Dean & Associates On Behalf Of Memphis Area Transit Authority
Laura Wood Peterson Consulting, Inc.: Inari Agriculture, Inc.
Tonio Burgos & Associates, Inc.: Clean Path New York LLC