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According to an urban myth, washed-up racehorses are shipped to the slaughterhouse and hacked into hot dogs.

Not true.

But a pair of U.S. slaughterhouses do process horses to be eaten in other countries, such as France, Belgium and Japan.

Now a wealthy American horse lover is trying to ban the practice.

John Hettinger, a longtime horse breeder and owner of Akindale Farms, is bankrolling an effort on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that would ban the slaughter of horses in the United States for foreign consumption.

As part of the effort, Hettinger has hired Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, the powerful GOP lobbying shop headed by former Republican National Committee Chairman and current Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour.

The cause also has created a lobbying alliance, the National Horse Protection Coalition, and signed up Hunter Bates, a former top aide to Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who failed in his own bid to become Kentucky’s lieutenant governor.

Together, the horse lovers are pushing legislation introduced by Rep. John Sweeney

(R-N.Y.) that would shut down two Dallas-area slaughterhouses that process horse meat.

But the effort is facing resistance from the House Agriculture Committee in the form of Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and ranking member Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas).

According to sources familiar with the campaign, the National Horse Protection Coalition plans to run ads inside the Beltway and in key districts to draw attention to the effort.

Hartley Making an Impact. Gregg Hartley has not been on K Street long, but he has already inked deals with some of the biggest corporations in Washington.

Hartley, a former chief of staff to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) now with Cassidy & Associates, has agreed to help the four major television networks support a Federal Communications Commission plan to relax media ownership regulations.

A bipartisan group of Senators is working to overturn the new FCC rules, which would allow the networks to own local stations reaching up to 45 percent of the nation’s television audience, up from 35 percent now.

Hartley also has signed up local phone giants SBC Communications, BellSouth and Verizon, for whom he will work on telecommunications issues before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Finally, Hartley inked a deal to represent Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance giant that is facing increased scrutiny on Capitol Hill after an accounting scandal earlier this year.

Hartley was hired by Cassidy & Associates to create a communications and media practice at the firm.

To help him with that effort, Hartley recently hired another former aide to the House Majority Whip: Jared Craighead, who most recently worked for SBC, before coming over to the firm.

Buse Signs Up Another Client. Mark Buse, a former top aide to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), has signed up to lobby for Southern Co., the enormous Southeastern utility that has successfully battled back electricity restructuring for years.

Southern hopes to work its magic again this fall as Republicans in the House and Senate prepare final language on electricity that will be added to a comprehensive energy bill.

Banking on Credit. The newly created Partnership to Protect Consumer Credit is throwing a lot of money around Capitol Hill these days in hopes of getting Congress to extend a pre-emption of state privacy laws as part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act reauthorization.

After the House acted earlier this month, the group has shifted its focus to Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a well-known privacy hawk, the Center for Responsive Politics reports.

“Members of the Partnership and the Financial Services Coordinating Council (FSCC), just two of the many coalitions supporting the bill, have given Shelby, now up for re-election, more than $171,000 in the 2004 election cycle so far,” the watchdog group states on its Web site.

“In addition to their contributions to Shelby, the partnership and FSCC members have given the committee’s other Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, more than $300,000 so far this cycle,” CRP reported.

The partnership includes such industry behemoths as Citigroup, Fannie Mae and MBNA. The FSCC is made up of major trade groups including the American Bankers Association, the American Insurance Association and the Securities Industry Association.

Beryl’s Boon. A few months after starting his own lobbying shop, former Rep. Beryl Anthony (D-Ark.) has signed up his first few clients.

Anthony will be spending his time working for Lockheed Martin, the Long Term Pharmacy Alliance and Beverly Enterprises, among other clients.

MLB Comes to Washington. Major League Baseball Charities has signed up the Duke Group to help with its activities in the nation’s capital.

The Duke Group will help the charitable organization implement a curriculum for youngsters that is designed to keep youths off drugs and free of alcohol, according to lobbying filings.

The league is already represented on Capitol Hill by lobbyist Lucy Calautti, the wife of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

MCI Dials Up for More Help. Embattled long-distance phone company MCI is making yet another call to its lobbying bullpen.

This time, MCI has signed up the lobbying firm Hill & Knowlton to help the company’s efforts in Washington as it struggles to emerge from bankruptcy.

In the past few months, MCI has brought on a host of new lobbyists. Its current team is anchored by longtime lobbyists at Patton Boggs and the Wexler Walker Group.

Nextel Phones In. Wireless phone company Nextel has turned to one of Washington’s most successful lobbying shops for help on legislation dealing with the wireless spectrum.

According to new lobbying reports, the

Reston-based company has hired Fierce & Isakowitz, an all-Republican firm that has strong ties on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

Holland and Knight Partnership. Holland and Knight LLP has launched an advocacy group, combining lawyers, lobbyists, economists and communications professionals to “help the firm better recognize and respond to the changing needs of clients.”

The initiative, dubbed the Public Policy and Practice Group, will focus its efforts on federal, state and local government relations for clients.

Swaps Gets Digs. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has become the latest industry to open a Washington office.

The 600-member organization announced last week that John Anderson, a former top aide to Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), will head the office along with a handful of other lobbyists.

The group also hired Daniela Marilungo, Julian Day and Johanna Schwab to fill key roles.

The association represents companies that rely on over-the-counter derivatives to manage economic risk.

Nicole Duran contributed to this report.

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