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No Place Like Home

We all prefer to think of our homes as sanctuaries of safety and comfort. But the Home Safety Council and its lobbyists have set aside June (aka Home Safety Month) to remind us that “unintentional home injuries,” such as falls, burns and drownings, account for more deaths in the United States than any other cause for people ages one to 44. [IMGCAP(1)]

Keeping such cheery statistics in mind, the group is sponsoring a luncheon at 12:30 p.m. today in Room 419 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building for all Senate employees, from Members to janitors.

The goal: to educate and encourage safer practices at home.

“It’s a forum for them to learn about tips they should be employing in their own homes,” such as putting non-slip mats in showers, said Michael Fulton,

a lobbyist with Golin/Harris International, who represents the council. “This group is trying to shine the light on how people can take low-cost, easy steps to make their home safer. A lot of people get electrocuted when they’re doing electrical work in their home or [sustain] injuries around gardening and doing things out in the yard.”

The Home Safety Council, which originally started as a foundation of the big-box retailer Lowe’s Home Improvement, is now an independent nonprofit with a strong public policy agenda.

At the federal level, Fulton said, the group is pushing for the Elder Fall Prevention Act, which passed the Senate last year but has not been introduced this Congress.

The group also conducts a regular study of home safety — or, one might say, home peril — that helps it draw up its advocacy efforts.

“We can go to Congress and state legislatures and local leaders and say, ‘If you made this mandatory in all new houses … there would be [fewer] people dying of fires or burns in their homes,’” Fulton said. The group, he said, wants “to point out areas where we can change policy or practices.”

Putting It in Overdrive. The lobbying and consulting firm run by former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) has signed up a diverse roster of clients, including NASCAR.

“We’re plugging along,” said Watts, who served as the House Republican Conference chairman and now heads the J.C. Watts Cos. “We think we’re building a pretty strong and diverse company that reflects me and my team’s skills and priorities.”

Watts said that diversity is a key to his business model.

For the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based auto racing NASCAR, for example, Watts’ firm is helping lure a more demographically diverse fan base. One perk of the job, he said: “I’ve gotten to see two NASCAR events.”

When it comes to corporate diversity, Watts said he uses the same line he uses about the Republican Party’s need to reach out to black and other minority voters.

“If we don’t do better tapping into those nontraditional constituencies, we are going to be in a very, very tough situation,” he said. “It’s not about black and white, to me, it’s about business. It’s about market share.”

The firm has also signed up the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians from Tahlequah, Okla.; the U.S. Virgin Islands Military Museum and Veterans Memorial Complex; John Deere and Co.; and the historically black Grambling State University in Louisiana.

Watts’ firm also has worked on behalf of the government of Senegal. According to recent filings with the Justice Department, the firm collected $100,000 for six months of work ending Feb. 28.

Watts and his associates helped the country’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, set up meetings with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Watts added that his firm — whose lobbyists already include Jon Vandenheuvel, Steve Pruitt and Elroy Sailor — is adding a new staffer this month, but remained mum on who it is. Stay tuned.

Vertical Takeoff. The Navigators LLC, an all-Republican lobby shop, has signed up AgustaWestland North America Inc., a subsidiary of the second-largest helicopter manufacturer in the world.

The company hired the firm to “expand [its] profile and strengthen relationships with key policymakers on Capitol Hill and in the Bush administration,” firm principal Cesar Conda said.

The Marshall Plan. The government of the Marshall Islands has retained James Beirne, a longtime chief counsel on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who is now a part-time consultant.

The islands, a quasi-U.S. territory, can benefit from some domestic programs as if it were a state, Beirne said. But the government often needs help navigating Washington, D.C., and Beirne expects his assignment for the Marshall Islands to range across a variety of issues.

“I’m giving mainly advice to the embassy when they want advice on how to approach” the U.S. government, Beirne said.

Beirne, who spent three decades working in the Senate, practices his trade far from K Street, in Bethesda, Md.

New Business. Kirk Van Tine, a former deputy secretary of Transportation, along with fellow Baker Botts lobbyists Susan McColley and John Cassidy have signed up Halliburton on issues related to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a part of the Transportation Department. The firm did not respond to a call seeking comment.

K Street Moves. Stuart Holliday, most recently the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for special political affairs, is heading to Quinn Gillespie and Associates to lead the firm’s international practice. … The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that works with state legislators, is adding three people to its ranks. Christie Raniszewski, who served as director of public affairs for the James Madison Institute, will direct the group’s health and human services task force; Daniel Simmons, formerly a research fellow at the Mercatus Center, joins ALEC as director of the natural resources task force; and Andrew Schauder, an assistant to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, joins as director of federal affairs.

Microsoft has hired Scott Corley, previously a government relations manager for the Information Technology Industry Council, to work in the software giant’s Washington, D.C., office. … Naomi Camper, most recently the banking and tax aide to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), has joined the Washington, D.C., office of JPMorgan Chase as co-head of federal government relations. … And Brad Close, a longtime lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business, has been promoted to lead the small business lobby’s efforts in the House.

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