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International Coup

Cassidy & Associates is going global. The firm is launching a new global affairs and trade consultancy group and is bringing on Robin Raphel, who spent three years as U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, to help get the practice off the ground. [IMGCAP(1)]

Most recently, Raphel was deputy inspector general in the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which oversees more than $20 billion in U.S. reconstruction aid for Iraq.

A 30-year State Department veteran, she was assistant secretary of State for South Asian affairs from 1993 to 1997 before becoming ambassador to Tunisia.

Raphel’s long career in government service also includes a stint with the CIA, where she was an economic analyst.

Cassidy’s vice chairman and chief operating officer, Gregg Hartley, said that although the firm has long done work for foreign governments and corporate clients with international legislative concerns, this practice will focus less on lobbying and more on business consulting.

“We’re making a fairly substantial change in a major part of our overall firm,” Hartley said. “What we’re going to do is start a separate section of Cassidy that will have multiple teams or multiple practices all focused on consulting on international work.”

Raphel, Hartley added, will help clients understand the nuances of “foreign policy, the friction points in between the various players.”

Added Raphel in a statement: “I’m looking forward to using my experience to help guide clients through the intimidating Washington maze of policy and decisions.”

Car Talk, Congressional Style. The lobbyists over at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers have shifted their

fight against certain fuel-efficiency proposals into a higher gear. This week, the group set up a Web site that breaks out the popularity of light trucks versus passenger cars in each Congressional district.

“In 304 of the 435 Congressional districts, consumers purchase more light trucks than passenger cars,” Auto Alliance spokesman Charles Territo said. “We think it’s important that Members of Congress are able to see the types of vehicles that their constituents are purchasing.”

More than that, the Auto Alliance — whose members include Ford, Toyota and BMW —wants to quash the Senate’s fuel-economy proposal as well as one set forth by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

Instead, the automakers favor a bill sponsored by Reps. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.). The Hill-Terry measure allows for separate fuel-economy standards for cars and for light trucks, which almost always get worse gas mileage. It is considered a less ambitious target, but one that automakers nonetheless say will be a challenge to meet.

“We believe that the Senate energy proposal and Mr. Markey’s H.R. 1506 would have negative impacts on the types of the vehicles available to consumers,” Territo said.

The group’s Web site, whose statistics are based on all the new vehicle registrations for 2006, sets out to show that consumers want to buy light trucks despite rising gas prices and concerns over global warming.

Some Congressional districts, though, do favor the more fuel-efficient passenger cars, in particular Markey’s and that of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

In conjunction with the Web site, the Auto Alliance also is launching an ad campaign in several Beltway publications, including Roll Call. “We think the Hill-Terry proposal is the legislation that would preserve vehicle choice and the types of vehicles that consumers are demanding while increasing fuel economy and while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” Territo said.

The effort, including the Web site and ads, comes with about a $100,000 price tag.

Private Equity Hedges Its Bets. The summer provided fresh proof that bad news for private capital means good news for K Street. As tax-writers in Congress continued to weigh steeper levies on gains by private equity firms and hedge funds, the groups opened their famously fat wallets and continued to staff up on lobbyists.

Kevin Joseph, a Democratic former senior counsel on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, earned $85,000 in June alone representing private equity giant Madison Dearborn Capital Partners on the tax issue and others, according to Senate filings.

But on a different scale altogether, the team at Ogilvy Government Relations posted the biggest payday from a single client when the firm reported earning $3.74 million in six months helping The Blackstone Group throw cold water on a pair of tax proposals.

The firm added to its work on that front in July by inking a deal to represent the Alternative Investment Management Association, a trade association for hedge funds, managed future and managed securities. Also that month, Citadel Investment Group, a hedge fund, hired the heavy hitters at Capitol Tax Partners to fight the higher taxes, Senate filings show.

With tax panels on both sides of the Capitol still considering legislation to raise rates on the groups, look for their downtown hiring spree to continue.

A New Shade of Purple. Ogilvy Government Relations may trace its roots to the all-Republican shop the Federalist Group, but it’s the firm’s Democratic roster that’s growing now. Ogilvy has hired James Williams, a one-time senior policy adviser to Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who will join Monday from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, where he was vice president of federal government affairs.

Stewart Hall, managing director of Ogilvy, said the new hire is part of the firm’s evolution into a “full bipartisan firm. While he’s got good relations in both the House and Senate side, we like his Senate background and we think that’s some place he’ll help us dramatically.”

K Street Moves. Covington & Burling has added Ellen Eliasoph, formerly with Warner Bros. Entertainment, to its international and government affairs groups. Warner Bros. will be a client of Eliasoph at Covington.

• Lobbyist Ian Butterfield, president of Butterfield Carter and Associates, has affiliated with the The Livingston Group, where he will serve as a consultant. Butterfield worked for a dozen years for then-Sen. William Roth (R-Del.).

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