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Breakin’ Up?

Lobbyists from the tech and electronics sectors are buzzing about an expected demise of the Electronic Industries Alliance later this summer. [IMGCAP(1)]

While the alliance’s board has not yet made a final decision, insiders said, it is expected to take a vote next month that will determine the EIA’s “future.” And just like any good divorce story, there’s a big chunk of property involved: to the tune of $40 million.

Rumblings started earlier this year after former Rep. Dave McCurdy (D-Okla.) left the EIA to run the Auto Alliance. Sources familiar with the EIA said the group, whose members have long been concerned about the overabundance of similar high-tech-related associations, is debating whether to hire a McCurdy replacement or, more likely, splinter off.

Kevin Schweers, the EIA’s spokesman, said the group’s executive committee has agreed to re-evaluate the alliance’s structure. “The goal is to ensure that the resources and capabilities at EIA most effectively advance the mission of the alliance. … The internal review should be completed this summer and the executive committee will consider the findings soon thereafter,” he said.

The EIA itself is a combination of a handful of associations including the Telecommunications Industry Association. Each of the individual associations would split the proceeds of the sale of the EIA building in Arlington.

“There’s a big building, with a big sign that says EIA, but you don’t know where it is,” said one well-placed source familiar with the EIA’s workings. “If it were more centrally located, maybe Hill staffers would know where it is.”

Even if the alliance’s board decides to stay intact, sources familiar with the group expect it will sell the building and invest the money in more advantageous ways, such as hiring more lobbyists.

The source familiar with the EIA, who requested anonymity, said the alliance’s work, including its lobbying, continues and that no employees have been let go.

Should the alliance implode, as many expect, its member associations might cash in their stakes in the sale of the building. They could then combine and partner with other EIA members or other groups such as the Information Technology Industry Council or the American Electronics Association.

The EIA had tapped recruiting firm Korn/Ferry to find a replacement for McCurdy, but sources said that search has been essentially suspended.

“It’s too early in the discussion to know how that will work out,” said a source familiar with the EIA’s board. “It’s all in a real state of flux.”

King of the Road. Just in time for the summer travel season, the good lobbyists at Ford Motor Co. have very helpfully dispatched to Capitol Hill a list of tips to save fuel.

No, the automaker does not recommend using public transportation.

The tips include driving more slowly, traveling light (“avoid piling luggage on the roof rack”), checking tire pressure and using high-quality oil.

Oh, and keep the air conditioning and heat to a minimum.

The tips went to Members along with a letter from Ford Vice President of Government Relations Bruce Andrews, a Democrat who joined the company earlier this year from Quinn Gillespie & Associates.

Andrews said the tip cards, part of a nation-wide “EcoDriving” campaign, have long been used but this is the first time Ford has sent them directly to Members.

“A lot of Members do newsletters and they can incorporate the tips,” Andrews said. “Whenever you do any public service campaign, you try to think about ways of getting your message out, and this is another way of educating the public.”

Cuban Client Crisis. DLA Piper lawyer-lobbyist Ignacio Sanchez has found himself in the eye of a storm over a client’s alleged work in Cuba.

Sanchez, himself a Cuban American who has long advocated for a democratic government on the island, represents the French company Bouygues Travaux Publics, which was accused by a fellow activist of violating the Helms-Burton Act by trafficking in confiscated property in Cuba. According to a report in the Miami Herald, a Bouygues Travaux Publics affiliate had built luxury hotels on the island.

Nicolas Gutierrez, a lawyer and Cuban activist, sent a letter to Sanchez saying his client had violated the law. Sanchez said he looked into the matter and discovered his client did not have any business in Cuba — but that an affiliate of the client may have.

And last week, Sanchez resigned from the Cuban Liberty Council, an organization he helped to create.

In his resignation letter, Sanchez wrote Bouygues Travaux Publics “never conducted any business whatsoever in Cuba ” and allegations that his client had “trafficked in confiscated property in Cuba” were “100% false.”

He added, “as a lawyer, I have a duty of loyalty to my client.”

He resigned, Sanchez said, “to avoid any appearance that the position taken by the CLC on this issue is influenced in any way by my position on the board.”

In an interview, Sanchez said “the reaction I’ve gotten from colleagues and people who follow this issue is that I have enormous credibility on the issue because I call it the way it is from a legal and policy perspective.”

He declined to discuss specific clients. But Sanchez is registered to lobby on behalf of clients such as General Cigar, a Dominican company that makes cigars and that does not support lifting the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba until a free-market economy is established on the island.

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