When thinking of the nation’s centers of high technology and telecommunications, Silicon Valley might come to mind before Bozeman, Mont.
But a long-distance learning center in Big Sky Country named in honor of Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) is proving that Bozeman can be a major player.
Roger Fleming, a former in-house lobbyist for Denver-based Qwest Communications and the former majority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, is now representing the interests of the Burns Telecommunications Center at Montana State University.
Fleming, who is now counsel for the Detco Group, is lobbying independently for the Burns Center. He is trying to shake loose money for the center from the federal purse strings, which just so happen to be controlled by the Senate and House Appropriations panels.
Burns is a senior member of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He is chairman of the Commerce subcommittee on
communications, as well as co-chairman of the Senate Internet Caucus.
The center was founded in 1997 with an aim to develop and use long-distance learning and other telecommunications applications together at one facility.
While Burns himself is the honorary chairman of the center’s advisory board, Fleming said neither the Senator nor his office is involved in day-to-day matters regarding the center’s appropriations.
Fleming, who left Capitol Hill in 1996, said he is “trying to keep them abreast of what is going on.”
The center’s advisory board is comprised of representatives from many large corporations, including Lockheed Martin, GTE, Gateway, Microsoft and AOL Time Warner.
According to the center’s list of advisory council members, notable names on the board include Lisa Nelson, the vice president for external relations at AOL Time Warner. Nelson is in charge of the media giant’s political action committee and was a staffer for then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).
Charlie Shipp, vice president of AT&T’s Congressional affairs department, is also on the advisory council.
South Dakota-based Gateway Inc. is also represented at the Burns Center. Its chief Washington lobbyist, Donald McClellan, is on the board. McClellan served as communications counsel on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the 103rd and 105th Congresses. McClellan helped sweep the 1996 Telecommunications Act through the Senate.
Additionally, Microsoft’s Jack Krumholtz, the company’s director of federal government affairs, is on the center’s board. He is vice chairman of Microsoft’s PAC and also serves on the advisory council to the Congressional Internet Caucus.
During the administration of former President George H.W. Bush, Fleming served as counsel to the Federal Maritime Commission.
Fleming said that after working on bringing the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996 through Congress, it is gratifying to see that the Burns Center is a living testament to the goals of the legislation.
A Lott of Lobbying. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is no longer the Majority Leader, but some of his key confidants are still snapping up big clients on K Street.
Gary Sisco, who was appointed Secretary of the Senate by Lott, and Sisco Consulting LLC have signed on Smart Data Strategies Inc. of Franklin, Tenn., a data-assessment and parcel-mapping service, according to Sisco’s official filing registered with his own former office and the Clerk of the House.
Alison McSlarrow, Lott’s former deputy chief of staff, is now lobbying on behalf of Eagan, Minn.,-based Northwest Airlines. McSlarrow and her firm, McSlarrow Consulting, intend to lobby on general aviation issues and aviation reauthorization legislation, according to the group’s official filing.
Lott is chairman of the Commerce subcommittee on aviation in addition to serving as chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee.
Linda Daschle, wife of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) already lobbies for Northwest.
McSlarrow, whose husband, Kyle, is deputy secretary at the Energy Department, has some other big-name clients, including Qwest Communications, Microsoft, Fannie Mae and the American Trucking Association. Kyle McSlarrow is also being pegged as a potential GOP challenger to embattled Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
Don’t Mess With Texas Courts. Most lobbying efforts in Washington are designed to prod Congress or the administration to approve this bill or block that regulation.
But not always. The National Association of Manufacturers recently hired the well- connected law firm Kirkland & Ellis to lobby the Bush administration to launch a vigorous appeal of a Texas court decision that threatens the nation’s manufacturers.
The Washington trade group wants the Supreme Court to throw out a Texas decision that could require manufacturers to comply with both federal and state laws on labeling and packaging pesticides and herbicides.
NAM believes that federal law on the topic carries more weight than state laws. However, the Texas Supreme Court disagreed when it asserted the supremacy of Texas law on the matter.
Now the manufacturing industry wants the Justice Department to appeal the decision to the highest court in the land.
“NAM asked us to tell anyone who would listen that the administration should get back to the Supreme Court, and argue in favor of upholding the supremacy of federal authority on the topic,” said Robert Gasaway, a partner with Kirkland & Ellis.
Breaking From Britain? The year 1282 is one the Welsh people don’t look fondly upon. Their prince, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed in battle defending their homeland against the English, who were set on making the land subject to King Edward I. The prince’s head was brought to London in triumph and the Welsh people were brought under the power of the English sovereign, whose first in line to the throne from then on would be the ceremonial ruler of the land.
More than 700 years later, another Gruffudd is leading the charge — which includes a lobbying effort in Washington — to make Wales a free state.
An individual by the name of Willow ferch Gruffudd is at the front of the push. He’s in charge of the Wales Union, an organization aimed at promoting Welsh-American cultural ties and education in an eventual effort for a free Welsh state.
Attempts to contact the Wales Union, which lists an Ohio phone number and a North Canton business address, were unsuccessful. According to its official filing registered with the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House, Gruffudd is the union’s governor. Other individuals listed to lobby on the Hill are Nicholas Taylor, the union’s deputy governor; Arthur Keith, executive secretary; and Wyn Morgan, finance secretary.
Officials from the British Embassy in Washington and the Wales International Center in New York were unaware of the Wales Union’s existence or of any serious attempts to gain support for Welsh independence on this side of the Atlantic.
Here are some other recent lobbying filings, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.com.
Brownstein Hyatt & Faber has signed on Ticketmaster to represent the company on legislation affecting the ticketing industry.
Clear Channel Inc., the nation’s largest owner of radio stations, has recently hired an outside lobbying firm despite expanding its in-house operations over the past few months. Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker is representing the interests of the San Antonio-based company on legislation and oversight regarding radio ownership. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is pushing for reform in legislation governing radio station ownership. Clear Channel has said Feingold’s proposal is unnecessary and that the current regulations promote healthy industry practices.
Late last year, Clear Channel brought on Brendan Kelsay, formerly of Rep. John Dingell’s (D-Mich.) office and Robert Fisher, who served as an aide to Commerce Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The radio and concert giant’s Washington office is led by Andy Levin, a former top aide to Dingell, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Fierce & Isakowitz has signed on Internet giant Yahoo Inc. to represent the company on spam issues and Internet taxation and privacy concerns. Yahoo has also solicited the services of Ryan Phillips Utrecht & MacKennon to lobby on related issues.
The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a nonprofit organization aiming at building public support for a national missile defense system, has registered to lobby on issues related to the testing, development and deployment of such a system.
Courson Nickel of Baton Rouge, La., has signed on the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, to represent the NRA’s lobbying arm on manufacturer lawsuit reform.
Metabolife International Inc. of San Diego has officially brought on two independent lobbyists to represent the dietary supplement producer on regulatory affairs.
Filings show that Blanton Moore and Garry Mauro are representing Metabolife, which manufactures ephedra, a dietary supplement that boots metabolism but has been suspected in causing the deaths of several athletes.
Mauro, who lost to George W. Bush in the 1998 Texas governor’s race, has been lobbying for Metabolife for years but did not officially register until mid-March.
Brody Mullins contributed to this report.