With Daniel Lippman
DOUG COLLINS REGISTERS TO LOBBY: Former congressman and GOP Senate candidate Doug Collins has registered to lobby on criminal justice issues. The Georgia Republican left office in 2021 after mounting an unsuccessful challenge to then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who lost in a runoff to Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).
— Before that, Collins was one of former President Donald Trump’s fiercest defenders in Congress, where he was the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and helped shepherd the First Step Act to Trump’s desk. Newly filed lobbying disclosures show Collins began lobbying on Dec. 5 on behalf of the Justice Action Network, a bipartisan nonprofit advocating for criminal justice reform.
— “I am excited to be working with Justice Action Network to continue the work that I started in Congress to advocate for strong conservative criminal justice reform, like the First Step Act which I helped author,” Collins told PI in an email. “This partnership allows me to continue that focus not only in Washington but across the country.”
— Collins has been lobbying for “bipartisan criminal justice reforms that make our criminal justice system smarter, fairer, more efficient, and more effective,” including the EQUAL Act, which would eliminate sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine offenses.
— The disparity was reduced as part of the First Step Act, but criminal justice advocates on both sides of the aisle have pushed for its elimination altogether, arguing the stiffer penalties for crack cocaine disproportionately affect Black people.
— A version of the EQUAL Act was under discussion for inclusion in lawmakers’ year-end spending package last year, but Justice Action Network accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of blocking its inclusion despite passing the House with ease and securing a filibuster-proof level of support in the Senate, calling the omission “a searing indictment of a broken Beltway.” (Some Republicans blamed a surprise move by Attorney General Merrick Garland for blowing up the bipartisan talks.)
FUGEES RAPPER WANTS OBAMA, TRUMP TO TESTIFY: “The Fugees’ Pras Michel is seeking to force two former presidents — Donald Trump and Barack Obama — to testify at his looming trial on campaign-finance, foreign-agent and witness tampering charges,” our Josh Gerstein reports.
— “‘We’re planning on calling former President Trump and former President Obama,’ defense lawyer David Kenner said during a hearing held by videoconference at U.S. District Court in Washington. ‘These subpoenas are going out for service today.’”
— “Kenner did not elaborate on what testimony Trump or Obama could offer about the effort, but said the value of their accounts should be evident to prosecutors. ‘I believe it’s all relevant,’ Kenner said.”
— A Justice Department lawyer said that while the government doesn’t intend to call any former presidents to testify at the trial expected to begin in March, it “does plan to call two high level officials from the Trump White House: former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and one of his deputies, Ricky Waddell,” neither of whom are expected to resist testifying.
FIRST IN PI — TECHNET NAMES NEW LEADERSHIP: TechNet, a coalition of tech CEOs and senior executives, has named two new heads of the group’s executive council. Ed Knight, the executive vice chairman of Nasdaq will chair the council while Aparna Bawa, the COO at Zoom, will become vice chair.
— The personnel moves come amid major growth for the trade group in recent years, as indicated by the expanded role for Zoom’s Bawa, whose now-ubiquitous platform many may not have even heard of prior to the onset of the Covid pandemic and joined TechNet in 2020.
— TechNet has added more than four dozen new members since 2020, and dramatically boosted its advocacy footprint. The organization spent more than $1.8 million on federal lobbying last year, compared with just $270,000 in 2020. Last year’s lobbying expenditures were the group’s highest since 2005, when TechNet dropped $1.9 million.
— Those investments appear to have paid off. Several bills supported by TechNet — including the CHIPS and Science Act, the bipartisan infrastructure package and Democratic reconciliation bill, same-sex marriage protections and the INFORM Consumers Act — all made it to President Joe Biden’s desk. Other bills aimed at clamping down on major tech companies’ market dominance failed, while lawmakers made strides on federal data privacy legislation backed by TechNet even if it didn’t ultimately pass.
— TechNet also expanded its state advocacy network, and the group says it engaged on more than 600 bills in 44 states last year, with a success rate of 92 percent. Still, Silicon Valley has found itself at the forefront of economic headwinds as tech giants like Amazon, Meta, Lyft, Snap Inc. and Salesforce — all TechNet members — have laid off or announced plans to lay off tens of thousands of workers collectively.
CRYPTO NEARS ITS WATERSHED MOMENT: “Following the collapse of FTX, the one-time darling of the since-battered $1 trillion market, the SEC has found new footing to rein in crypto,” POLITICO’s Declan Harty reports, following the agency’s decision last week to charge a pair of digital asset giants with selling unregistered products to individual investors.
— “Calls for stricter enforcement are growing louder across Washington and Wall Street. Congress just gave the agency a bigger budget. And a late 2022 court victory has reaffirmed the SEC’s view that crypto tokens can be securities — and subject to strict regulation — even without being sold to the public through initial coin offerings.“
— “The SEC’s campaign for compliance could cement the regulator’s authority over crypto — ushering in a new age of policing in a market that [SEC Chair Gary] Gensler has called the ‘Wild West.’ It would also assuage concerns from progressive advocates and lawmakers who want the agency to move faster and more aggressively to protect consumers and investors. But crypto companies are poised to resist SEC supervision, setting up one of the most consequential battles of the Gensler era.”
— Over on the Hill, meanwhile, POLITICO’s Ally Mutnick and Nicholas Wu report that after “crypto-funded super PACs flooded the midterms with millions of dollars in campaign spending … some of their preferred candidates could play a crucial role in setting policy that will determine the future of the industry” — a prospect that’s causing hand-wringing among Democrats.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: Industry leaders are banding together to launch the Institute for the Building Envelope, a new trade group aimed at shaping public policy related to building envelopes, or the insulation in commercial and residential buildings designed to keep weather out and heat in.
— Douglas Brady of Huntsman Building Solutions and Ian Hughes of Meritage Homes will lead IBE, which will advocate for “innovative, multifunctional building materials that can increase energy efficiency” as well as better withstand natural disasters. That will include efforts to amend building codes in the states, promoting insulations like spray foam. The group also aims to serve as a resource for consumers, builders, designers and policymakers on improving the building envelope.
GATES FOUNDATION DEBATES ITS OWN POWER: “Does The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have too much power and influence? It’s a question the foundation’s CEO Mark Suzman raised in its annual letter released Tuesday that outlines the organization’s priorities and announces its budget for the coming year,” The Associated Press’ Thalia Beaty reports.
— “With $8.3 billion to give away in 2023, the Gates Foundation is the largest private philanthropic donor. And with an endowment of more than $70 billion, its spending power is likely to continue for many decades. When asked in an interview with The Associated Press what he thought the answer to that question was, Suzman said, ‘No.’”
— “Others disagree, including researchers who have followed the foundation’s funding for education in the U.S., its weight in international global health organizations and its approach toward the agriculture of small-holder farmers around the world. The foundation works on a wide range of issues and employs 1,700 staff members, who are experts in those areas, and espouses a dream-big ethos of setting ambitious goals.”
WHOOPS: “The Atlantic Council‘s chief executive officer, Fred Kempe, this month lavished praise on the ‘resource-rich, renewables-generating’ United Arab Emirates in a Jan. 14 op-ed for CNBC praising the oil-rich Gulf nation’s ‘utopian’ plan to fight climate change,” The Washington Free Beacon’s Chuck Ross writes. “What he failed to mention were the Middle Eastern monarchy’s sizable donations—which have in some years topped $1 million—to the Atlantic Council.”
— “In the piece, Kempe celebrated the United Nations’ decision to hold its annual climate change summit in Abu Dhabi and praised the UAE’s selection of Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, an Emirati government minister and the head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to oversee the global summit.”
— “After the Washington Free Beacon contacted the Atlantic Council for comment, CNBC attached a lengthy editor’s note to the article noting that ‘the obvious conflict of interest’ was ‘not disclosed’ and that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is a major sponsor of the Atlantic Council’s annual energy conference.”
— “The UAE embassy in 2021 gave more than $1 million to the Atlantic Council, while the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation gave between $100,000 and $250,000, according to donor records.” A spokesperson for the think tank called the omission an oversight, telling the Free Beacon it “regret[s] that proper disclosures were not made.”
— Michael Kennedy is joining Intuit as its vice president of global corporate affairs. He was most recently senior vice president for global government relations and public policy at VMware.
— Mike Hamilton is now a senior director on the federal government affairs team at the American Chemistry Council. He previously served as chief of staff for former Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.).
— Ryan O’Connor has joined Capital One as its PAC administrator. O’Connor previously was a manager of government relations at the Smiths Group.
— Rex Wackerle is stepping down as the head of Prudential’s Washington office after more than two decades. He previously held the same role with Bank of America and is a Bob Dole and Northrop Grumman alum. David Burns will take over as head of federal affairs at Prudential.
— Jordan Canter has joined Allstate as its new head and director of federal affairs. She spent the past eight years on The Hartford’s government affairs teamand is a Bank Policy Institute alum.
— Embraer has hired Daniel J. Hickey as vice president of government relations for North America. He most recently served as director of government affairs at 3M.
— Kate Bennett has joined Invariant as a senior adviser. She previously was a White House correspondent for CNN.
— Brenton Temple has joined MAD Global Strategy’s Columbus, Ohio, office as a managing director. He most recently served as campaign manager for Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R-Ohio) successful reelection campaign.
— The American Land Title Association has promoted Emily Tryon to vice president of government affairs, overseeing ALTA’s federal advocacy. She was previously the senior director of public policy and government affairs at the trade group.
— Ben Pearlman joined the National Association of Chain Drug Stores as director of state government affairs. Most recently, he served as senior director of government and public affairs for Shipt, Inc.
— Strategic Elements has added Hillary Maxwell Beightel as senior communications director and Kyle Jones as senior communications associate. Beightel was most recently director of public affairs at Dell Technologies and Jones was most recently a manager at PLUS Communications and FP1 Strategies.
— George P. Bush is joining Michael Best Strategies as a partner. He previously was Texas land commissioner.
— Ben Krauss has started a stint as a senior adviser to clean energy czar John Podesta at the White House. Krauss, who is taking a leave of absence as CEO of Fenway Strategies, is an alum of the Biden and Hillary Clinton campaigns and the Obama White House.
— Mike Amato is leaving the Department of Agriculture, where he’s currently communications director, to return to independent strategic communications consulting, Morning Agriculture reports.
— John Morton is now managing director, head of global advisory for climate change investment firm Pollination Group. He most recently was climate counselor to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
— Ronja Abel is joining Left Hook as vice president of public affairs. She most recently was deputy director of campaign comms for EMILY’s List and is a Steve Bullock alum.
— Michael Esposito is joining the American Conservation Coalition as chief of staff. He previously was a project manager at STRONG Manufacturers.
— Kenneth Mika is launching Politicoin, a political fundraising firm, where he will be CEO. He previously was director of email marketing for the RNC and is a Trump campaign alum.
— Cristina Martin Firvida is now investor advocate at the SEC. She previously was vice president of financial security and livable communities for government affairs at AARP.
— Justice Action Network has added Jenna Bottler as president and executive director and Diana Rademacher as communications director. Bottler was previously deputy director at JAN. Rademacher was previously policy director with Americans for Prosperity.
Defend the Vote Leadership Fund (Reps. Hakeem Jeffries,Katherine Clark,Pete Aguilar, Defend the Vote)
Messaging for the Majority (Reps. Lauren Underwood,Dean Phillips,Veronica Escobar,Joe Neguse)
Sara Jacobs House Victory Fund (Rep.Sara Jacobs, PAC For Good, DCCC)
Foundations Based on Integrity Political Action Committee (FBIPAC) (Leadership PAC: Michael Maher)
Platform for America PAC (Super PAC)
Remarkable Leadership Political Action Committee (Hybrid PAC)
Dentons US LLP: Cport Credit Union
Dentons US LLP: Percy Rockdale LLC
Dentons US LLP: The Leona Tate Foundation For Change
Dentons US LLP: Yelp, Inc.
Dogwood Strategies Inc: Justice Action Network
Federal Hall Policy Advisors, LLC: Moody’s Corporation
Fgs Global (US) LLC (Fka Fgh Holdings LLC): Catalyst4, Inc. (On Behalf Of Wastewaterscan)
Horizons Global Solutions LLC: Lovell Government Services
International Motor Vehicle Trade Association: International Motor Vehicle Trade Association
J.A. Green And Company: Deepsig Inc.
J.A. Green And Company: Magrathea Metals
J.A. Green And Company: Southstar Battery Metals
J.A. Green And Company: True Anomaly
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP: American Wire Producers Association
Manatos & Manatos: American Network Solutions
Manatos & Manatos: Resolute Building Intelligence
Mindset Advocacy, LLC (Fka Cypress Advocacy, LLC): The Capital Group Companies, Inc. & Its Affiliates
Mission Strategies LLC: Advance American Democracy, Inc.
Monument Advocacy: Fix Our House
Polsinelli Pc: Medical Group Care, LLC
R&R Partners, Inc.: Arevia Power
Smith & Associates: Thoragenix
1607 Strategies, LLC: Aca International
1607 Strategies, LLC: Artis Technonogies
535 Group, LLC: Boutique Air
Arentfox Schiff LLP: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited
Arentfox Schiff LLP: Drug Policy Alliance
Arentfox Schiff LLP: Fos Feminista
Big Fire Law & Policy Group, LLP: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Bluepoint Dc: U.S. Travel Association
Cassidy & Associates, Inc.: US Well Services
Cassidy & Associates, Inc.: Western Environmental Law Center
Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates, L.L.C.: The Academy For Radiology And Biomedical Imaging Research
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Capewell Aerial Systems
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Gm Defense, LLC
Covington & Burling LLP: The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Dentons US LLP: Pmi Global Services Inc.
Diroma Eck & Co. LLP: Castellum.Ai
Fgs Global (US) LLC (Fka Fgh Holdings LLC): Color Health (Fka Color Genomics)
Fgs Global (US) LLC (Fka Fgh Holdings LLC): Saleen Motors International
Foley Hoag LLP: Horizon Therapeutics USa (Formerly Horizon Pharma)
Forbes-Tate: Kenneth B. Morgan Pc On Behalf Of Kwell Laboratories
Hogan Lovells US LLP: Delta Offshore Energy Pte Ltd
Hogan Lovells US LLP: Nova Southeastern University
Jda Frontline Partners, LLC: Grid Market Research Inc.
Katherine Tremont: Razom, Inc.
K&L Gates, LLP: Xo Energy, LLC
Leavitt Partners, LLC: Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals, LLC
Leavitt Partners, LLC: Zero To Three: National Center For Infants Toddlers And Families
Mindset Advocacy, LLC (Fka Cypress Advocacy, LLC): Poulton Associates, LLC
Mindset Advocacy, LLC (Fka Cypress Advocacy, LLC): Red Rock Biofuels, LLC
Mj Capitol Consulting, LLC: Michigan Health & Hospital Association
Ncha, Inc.: Ncha, Inc.
Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman & Matz, Pc: Didion Milling
Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman & Matz, Pc: Intermountain Forest Association
Potomac Consulting LLC: Association Of Fish And Wildlife Agencies
Sanders International Group, LLC: Qtc Global Enterprises (On Behalf Of Defense Systems Redeployment Group)
Squire Patton Boggs: Shimmick Construction
Strategic Services, Inc.: Tarrytown Music Hall
Waxman Strategies: Immigration Voice
Waxman Strategies: Tioga Fund