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Kerry Adds Help From K Street

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is getting some new help from K Street as he ramps up for a battle with President Bush.

Massachusetts native and longtime Kerry supporter David Castagnetti plans to leave Bergner, Bockorny, Castagnetti & Hawkins to handle Congressional relations for the campaign.

Meanwhile, Ivan Schlager of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is planning to take on a more active role for Kerry, though he plans to stay on K Street for now.

Both Castagnetti and Schlager have longstanding ties to Kerry and have spent the past year working among a team of Washington lobbyists who have helped raise money and craft policy positions for the Democratic presidential candidate.

Schlager, a one-time chief counsel on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, volunteered his law offices to host regular meetings of Kerry’s K Street supporters.

Meanwhile, Castagnetti has been a Kerry fan since working for Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey in the 1980s. Castagnetti also is the brother-in-law of Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill.

Among some of their lobbyists who have played key roles in Kerry’s fundraising and policy operations are:

Les Goldman of Skadden Arps; David Leiter of ML Strategies; John Merrigan of Piper Rudnick; Roger Ballentine of Green Strategies; Thomas Wheeler and Chris Putala, both formerly of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association; former Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) and Hunter Johnston of Johnston & Associates; and Anne Wexler of Wexler-Walker.

Bush’s Washington Fundraisers. It’s no surprise that K Street lobbyists and other insiders have been strong financial supporters of President Bush’s re-election campaign.

Now a new study by Public Citizen shows just how good.

Lobbyists helped raise more money for the president’s campaign than any other profession short of those who work in the financial services industry, according to the study.

In all, 26 Washington lobbyists served as fundraising “Pioneers” or “Rangers” for Bush, helping to haul up to $200,000 or more for the campaign.

The list includes trade association heads like Jack Gerard of the National Mining Association and Tom Kuhn of the Edison Electric Institute, as well as in-house lobbyists such as Les Brorsen of Washington Council Ernst & Young and David Pringle of AFLAC.

Another set of hired guns also chipped in, including Kirk Blalock of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock; Charlie Black of BHSH & Associates; and Lanny Griffith of Barbour Griffith & Rogers.

Including the Washington lobbyists, a total of 32 of the Rangers and Pioneers live in the Washington area — raising more than $3.8 million for the president’s re-election effort, according to Public Citizen.

To thank the top fundraisers who helped Bush raise $172 million for his campaign coffers, the Bush-Cheney campaign sponsored a trip to an exclusive Georgia plantation over the weekend for a few days of relaxation, golfing and dining.

The event was held at the Reynolds Plantation, the resort built by the campaign’s chief fundraiser, Mercer Reynolds.

Abramoff Goes on the Offensive. Former Greenberg Traurig lobbyist Jack Abramoff has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate alleged leaks by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his office about a Senate probe of Abramoff’s contracts with several American Indian tribes.

Abramoff, through his lawyer Abbe Lowell, charged that a Washington Post story last week about the investigation was based on a letter from McCain to Abramoff that Senate staff gave to the newspaper before it was sent to the lobbyist.

The newspaper article alleged that Abramoff was paid $10 million for recommending that several tribes hire his business partner Mike Scanlon to organize grassroots political campaigns for the tribes.

“The only problem is that the reporter had the letter before either Mr. Abramoff or I received it or even knew about it,” Lowell wrote to Sens. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who run the Ethics panel.

Lowell charged that “improper investigative process, including leaks to and improper collaboration with the media, violates appropriate Senate behavior.”

PhRMA Policy Aide Joins Kimbell. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s director of policy has left the drug association’s downtown D.C. headquarters for a quaint row house on the border of Georgetown and Glover Park.

Samantha Ventimiglia has jumped to Jeffrey J. Kimbell & Associates, where she is now vice president of policy and government affairs. At PhRMA, Ventimiglia worked on issues like Medicaid and prescription drugs.

Ventimiglia joins Jodie Low, who has been promoted from manager of Kimball’s government affairs to director of public affairs.

Securities Adds Security. The Securities Industry Association has named Jonathan Traub, a former aide to Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), as the vice president of its tax legislation division.

Traub joins Richard Hunt, another McCrery aide who has since joined the SIA.

Hunton & Williams Adds Lobbyist. Bob Huey has left the Washington office of Arent Fox to join Hunton & Williams.

Huey has more than three decades of experience working on international trade issues.

He’s No Has-Bean. Jefferson Consulting Group LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based government relations and business consulting firm, has hired Bob Bean as a vice president.

Bean spent 22 years working for the federal government, most recently as Democratic staff director for the House Administration Committee.

Prior to that, he served in the Clinton Treasury Department.

Michael E. Grass contributed to this report.

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