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The Fox Factor

For anyone who thought the ongoing flap over Congressional junkets has chastened corporate sponsors, the good folks at News Corp. offer evidence to the contrary.

The media giant took the opportunity offered by the Memorial Day recess to ferry staffers to the Left Coast for three days of tours, briefings and top-notch eating. [IMGCAP(1)]

After landing Tuesday morning in L.A., the group was scheduled to get a two-hour tour of the DIRECTV broadcast center, according to a schedule of events for the trip obtained by Roll Call. They were then to head to the Park Hyatt Hotel to check in, then out again for dinner at Chinois. (For the tragically unhip: It’s a Wolfgang Puck eatery.)

The next day was to bring overviews of Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Sports, the National Geographic Channel and a tour of the Fox HD Facility before dinner at Dolce. (Yes, you again: It’s Ashton Kutcher’s restaurant.)

And on Thursday, the surely beleaguered passel of staffers were slated to eat breakfast at the 20th Century Fox Studio lot while being given an overview of the company, followed by overviews of standards and practices at the FX network and Fox Sports.

Then, a tour of Fox Studios followed by a meal at Spago. (Yup, another Puck spot.) Friday took them back to dreary old D.C. If only every day could be a recess day.

A News Corp. spokesman did not return a call for comment.

Friend or Foe? Over the past two decades, the Cato Institute has nurtured the development of Social Security privatization from academic theory to the centerpiece of the Bush administration’s domestic agenda. But the think tank’s alliance with the White House goes only so far.

As President Bush travels the country to champion Cato’s brainchild, the libertarian think tank has released a report that slams the administration’s alleged failings on fiscal restraint.

In a recent policy analysis, “The Grand Old Spending Party: How Republicans Became Big Spenders,” Stephen Slivinski, Cato’s director of budget studies, argues that President Bush and the Republican Congress have rolled out the red carpet for a new era of bloated government and loose spending.

The study found that despite GOP rhetoric, government spending increased by 33 percent during Bush’s first term. “President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson,” Slivinski said in his report.

Slivinski said that no one at the CATO institute expressed any reservations to him about releasing the study at a time when Social Security privatization is finally getting its day on the public agenda.

“We released a similar study last year

during the election, when it arguably could have been worse for the president,” Slivinski said.

Although the White House generally attributes the increased spending to expenditures on homeland security and efforts to fight terrorism, the study found that non-defense spending is also on the rise.

“Republicans tend to use the rhetoric of fiscal restraint, even though their actions don’t indicate any,” Slivinski said.

In and Out. Roger Levy has been named the new head of Genworth Financial’s Washington office.

Levy, the one-time senior vice president and director of federal government relations for Citigroup, most recently came from DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary. He said his new company has a host of legislative priorities that involve retirement security beyond just the Social Security debate.

“Part of the overall effort here is to help give Genworth its independent brand identity with world-class government relations,” Levy said.

Part of Genworth’s business is selling annuities, or retirement insurance plans. And the company supports legislation, including a bill introduced by Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), that would encourage annuities by offering tax breaks for portions of annuity income. “This is much, much bigger than Social Security,” he said.

Levy, a 35-year veteran of Washington, said the company’s D.C. office is looking to hire another lobbyist to boost the small outpost it already has in place.

In the meantime, Levy’s arrival prompts the question: What happened to the company’s former top lobbyist, Kate Carey, who joined the General Electric spinoff last fall? Apparently, she’s back at Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., where she spent 14 years before departing for Genworth. Carey, who runs MetLife’s D.C. office, did not return a call for comment.

K Street Moves. Holland & Knight’s lobbying and regulatory practice has added Mary Ann Gilleece as a partner. She will focus on government contracts and procurement. Most recently, Gilleece was a partner at Van Scoyoc Kelly, a firm co-owned by H. Stewart Van Scoyoc, who is also the founder of Van Scoyoc Associates.

Sue Nelson, most recently a deputy director and senior Medicare analyst on the Senate Budget Committee, is joining the American Heart Association as a vice president for advocacy. … She’s not to be confused with Susan Nelson, who is leaving the Federalist Group to join the Loeffler Group as the firm’s lead Republican. Before her lobbying days, this Nelson served as finance director for the Republican Governors Association and as an aide to then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas). The firm has also added Barbara Merola, who worked in the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy. … Bill McCann has left his post as chief of staff to Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) to join SMI as program manager. … Grant Aldonas, a former Commerce Department undersecretary for international trade, has joined the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a partner in its international trade practice.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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