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Former Rep. Phil Crane (R-Ill.) has joined the Gilman Group, a lobbying firm founded by former Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.) that focuses on international affairs, trade and technology matters. [IMGCAP(1)]

Crane, who spent 35 years in Congress before being defeated last year by Democrat Melissa Bean, is a former chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee on trade. He inked a deal with the Gilman Group last week.

Gilman is a one-time chairman of the House International Relations Committee who left Congress in 2003. Gilman “asked me, and I said I’d be happy to join because I want to stay involved in trade issues,” said Crane, who will work at the firm part-time.

Among other recent projects, the firm has turned its attention to help raise money and awareness for victims of the December tsunami in Asia and Africa, said Adam Falkoff, vice president of government affairs at the Gilman Group.

Falkoff participated in a $30,000-a-person golf tournament with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush in Florida last week. The event raised $1.2 million.

The Senator’s Wife. Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), is joining Washington public relations firm Hill and Knowlton as a senior counselor in the health and pharmaceuticals practice.

She had most recently been working the speaking circuit, where she addressed audiences on women’s health, politics and her personal history. She has previously worked for APCO Associates, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Hoffman-La Roche, and hospitals in Connecticut and Israel.

The firm is also adding former CNN health reporter Jeffrey Levine as senior vice president of health care media relations.

Privatization Pains. A day after labor union pressure forced a third group to quit the business coalition backing President Bush’s Social Security overhaul, the AFL-CIO announced that it would intensify its campaign to drive a wedge between the president and the business lobby.

On March 31, the labor giant will sponsor a National Day of Action in which activists will protest and convene town hall meetings in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. The mobilization will target several financial-services entities including Charles Schwab, an investment house that was an early advocate of the president’s plan to create personal accounts in the federal retirement program.

The National Day of Action announcement comes one day after the labor group disclosed that it had knocked a third group, the Financial Services Forum, out of the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America’s Social Security — the lead business alliance backing the president’s push.

The forum, which includes such financial services heavyweights as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, is led by former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.). It was a co-founder of CoMPASS, but dropped out when its membership couldn’t agree on an approach to Social Security reform.

Meanwhile, CoMPASS is fighting back after the defection with the release today of a poll that, according to a news release, will raise “serious questions” about the senior lobby AARP’s position on Social Security.

The survey of 800 voters 55 and older was conducted by Republican pollster Whit Ayres. It found that three-fifths believe offering personal retirement accounts is a good idea, as long as their own benefits are untouched, with AARP members slightly more likely to agree.

The survey further shows 65 percent of AARP members — and 66 percent of non-AARP members — believe “significant changes are needed to ensure their children and grandchildren will get the Social Security benefits they have been promised.”

Patriot Power. A group of mostly conservative organizations is forming a new coalition to pressure Congress to review what it calls “the most intrusive, unchecked provisions” of the PATRIOT Act. It will also call on President Bush to reconsider his endorsement of the act.

Former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) is chairing the group, called Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances. Other conservative heavyweights in the group include Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation. Another member is Laura Murphy, a top lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The group will make its debut with a press conference next week. In the meantime, a spokeswoman for the group said it is still recruiting members.

New GOPers on the Block. In the latest addition to the stable of all-Republican lobbying shops, Capitol Hill veterans Jeff Walter, Brad Edwards and Scott Barnhart are forming a new public affairs firm called the Jenkins Hill Group.

The firm, formerly known as the Walter/Edwards Group, is adding Barnhart, a former Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbyist who most recently worked as campaign manager for Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.).

Barnhart’s partners had already brought strong GOP bona fides to the table. Walter served as political director for then-Sen. Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.), and Edwards was a legislative assistant to then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) before working for the United States Telecom Association and the American Council of Life Insurers.

This year, the firm has already signed up Lyondell Chemical, Advanced Optical Systems and DME Corp.

Lone Star Lane. Lane Luskey, former deputy national finance director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has joined the Loeffler Group as partner.

Luskey, a native Texan, brings Lone Star credentials to a firm with deep roots in the state. Prior to the DCCC, he worked on the campaigns of Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk and then-Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas).

The Loeffler Group, founded by former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas), has offices in Washington, Austin and San Antonio.

In Other Moves: Maria Cardona, formerly a senior vice president of the New Democrat Network, joins the Dewey Square Group as a principal. Cardona will help the public affairs firm expand its reach with Latino organizations and media.

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