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No Splitting the Baby

Former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas), the founder of the law and lobbying firm Loeffler Tuggey Pauerstein Rosenthal LLP, would rather have no client than half of one.

The four-term Congressman walked away from a contract with a longtime client, the city of San Antonio, when the city council decided to split the work between his firm and Holland and Knight. [IMGCAP(1)]

Five days after the city council’s vote, Loeffler withdrew its proposal to continue representing the city on appropriations issues, the San Antonio Express-News reported last month.

“I am of the very firm opinion that the city of San Antonio will be served best if it is represented in Washington, D.C., by a single law firm,” Loeffler wrote in a Feb. 22 letter.

So now the city will be splitting its federal lobbying work between Holland and Knight and Patton Boggs. Each firm signed a one-year contract paying $12,000 a month.

A lobbyist close to the deal said the city was unhappy with Loeffler’s performance for some time and had been trying to find a politically acceptable way to shift its federal representation.

But the the lobbyist added that Loeffler was furious at the notion of sharing the work, and stormed out of a meeting with city councilmen when they announced their intentions.

Julian Read, a spokesman for Loeffler, declined to elaborate on Loeffler’s reasons for walking away from the work, but he said the firm will “continue to support the city in any way they can otherwise.”

“When you have long-term representation of a client, it’s like a marriage,” said the lobbyist close to the deal. “After a while, you’ve got to work at it, or you start to take each other for granted.”

Patton Boggs, for its part, was happy to have the new business. Stuart Pape, the firm’s managing partner, said his colleagues were looking forward “to working closely with the city’s leadership and our co-counsel.”

Cut, It’s OK. Given the president’s frugal budget, just about every lobbyist in town is pushing for more — or at least the same level of — federal funding.

But not the International Dairy Foods Association.

Along with a collection of other commodities and small government advocates, the dairy group is pushing Congress to eliminate a proposed increase to the Milk Income Loss Contract program.

“We applaud the president’s approach to cutting the budget,” said Connie Tipton, president and chief executive of the dairy association. “However, we are disappointed that the budget contains a proposed extension of the costly and divisive MILC program.”

President Bush’s budget calls for a two-year extension of the program, which was created by the 2002 Farm Bill to aid dairy farmers. Extending it upholds a 2004 campaign pledge that Bush made in Wisconsin, a hard-fought battleground state that the president ultimately lost to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

After the Democratic National Committee ran ads attacking Bush for not supporting MILC strongly enough, the president pledged that, if re-elected, he would support the program.

Tipton’s group said MILC encourages small farmers to produce milk when the market doesn’t need it, thus disrupting the milk markets for Tipton’s member companies, which include Edy’s Grand Ice Cream Inc. and Yoplait-Colombo.

Tipton added that continuing the MILC program “when everyone else has to take a cut doesn’t make sense.”

While her side might have a good shot at keeping the extension out of the final version of the budget, MILC’s supporters have a backup plan in legislation introduced by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). That bill would also extend the program for the next two years, keeping it on track with the the Farm Bill.

Steve Etka, a solo lobbyist who represents the Midwest Dairy Coalition, said that his client “is looking for any and all opportunities to get this program extended for two years to get dairy on the same time frame as the rest of the Farm Bill.”

The National Milk Producers Federation, which represents dairy cooperatives nation-wide, is sitting out this debate, according to a spokesman, because its members are divided.

Family Business. Amy Mehlman, the wife of lobbyist Bruce Mehlman and sister-in-law of Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, has started her own lobbying firm, Mehlman Capitol Strategies.

She is hardly a newcomer to the advocacy business, though. For five years, Amy Mehlman was a partner in Capitol Coalitions, a small lobbying shop. That firm will continue with her fellow principal, Brett Scott.

Mehlman’s book of business includes Intelsat, Nextel Communications, Mobile Satellite Ventures and Florida Crystals, a sugar company that is lobbying against the current iteration of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Mehlman decided to start her own company, she said, because she had a solid base of clients and “I had an interest in being a woman owning my own business.

“The BlackBerry and cellphone has made it quite pleasant for a working mother,” added Mehlman, who has three children.

Mehlman said she and her husband bounce ideas off each other.

“He does a lot of technology, and I do a lot of satellite” work, said Mehlman whose husband’s firm also represents Nextel. “I try not to get on the opposite side of anything he’s working on.”

Take Two. The Motion Picture Association of America — a group that needs all the friends it can get on the GOP side of the aisle — has tapped Barbara Comstock of the law and lobbying firm Blank Rome as an outside consultant.

Comstock, who polished her Republican credentials as director of public affairs at the Justice Department under then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, is handling media outreach and advocacy efforts related to the recent Supreme Court case involving file-sharing service Grokster.

Comstock also represents the Recording Industry Association of America, which takes the same side as the MPAA on intellectual property issues. In addition to Comstock, Blank Rome’s Heather Feinstein is also helping MPAA.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in MGM Studios Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. on March 29. “This case is about the massive stealing of copyrighted work on these file-sharing services,” said Comstock, a former chief counsel on the House Government Reform Committee. “The government was on our side.”

K Street Moves. Tom Herrity, a former president of Direct Impact, a grass-roots firm owned by PR firm Burson-Marsteller, has started his own shop called OnPoint Advoacy.

Among his first clients is the Coalition to Modernize and Protect America’s Social Security, or CoMPASS — a business coalition that supports President Bush’s proposals for overhauling the Social Security system.

Herrity, who left Direct Impact two years ago, also serves as chief executive of Democracy Data and Communications, an Internet advocacy firm. He says he wants to blend field services and grass-roots mobilization with Internet recruitment.

“You take those two things and combine them and you’ve got something very, very special,” said Herrity whose OnPoint company is based in the same Alexandria, Va., building as Direct Impact.

Other Moves: John Duncan is leaving his job as assistant secretary of the Treasury for legislative affairs to become a managing director of the lobbying firm Wexler and Walker.

In his post at Treasury, Duncan worked with Senate and House leadership on passing President Bush’s tax cuts, the USA PATRIOT Act and terrorism-risk insurance.

He came to the Treasury Department in 2001, following 16 years as legislative director and chief of staff to then-Sen. Bill Roth (R-Del.).

Also: The National Association of Realtors has hired Sam Whitfield as a lobbyist. Whitfield comes from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq as a press officer and spent five years as an aide to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

Lucia Wyman has left her job as managing director of Public Strategies Inc., a Texas-based public affairs firm, to form her own shop, Wyman Consulting. The new firm will focus on providing strategic advice on legislative and regulatory issues and coalition-building. Wyman is a veteran of the Clinton administration, where she served as a special assistant to the president for Congressional affairs.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide has added two White House staffers to its Washington office as account directors: Randy DeCleene, former deputy press secretary to Vice President Cheney, and Elizabeth Straub, former speechwriter to first lady Laura Bush.

CORRECTION: The April 4 K Street Files column incorrectly reported that former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas), now a lobbyist with Loeffler Tuggey Pauerstein Rosenthal LLP, left a meeting with San Antonio city officials after they announced their intention to add another lobbying firm to their team of Washington representatives. Loeffler did not attend the meeting.

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