Getting Warmer

Posted April 4, 2008 at 6:04pm

Could springtime spell a thaw for the National Association of Home Builders’ frozen political action committee? The trade group abruptly cut off its dole to federal candidates back in February out of frustration with Congressional inaction on the housing crisis.

[IMGCAP(1)]But the Senate housing bill, teed up for a vote this week, is stuffed with goodies for the home building industry. Primarily, the measure offers home builders $6 billion in tax relief. It also includes an expansion of tax-free bonds for local housing authorities, a homebuyer tax credit and a streamlining of the Federal Housing Administration, all industry priorities.

Jerry Howard, NAHB’s executive vice president and CEO, described the group as “very pleased” with the package.

Howard said the PAC’s board is set to discuss the status of the account during the home builders’ spring meeting at the end of the month. “I don’t know what they’ll do,” he said. But, he added, “the fact that this bill is so broad-based, and addressing so many priorities, is something they’ve got to take into account.”

Consolation Prize. Jittery lobbyists take heart: A federal investigation might change your business plan, but it need not send you to the poorhouse. That’s the lesson laid out in year-end disclosure reports from the two firms that emerged from the split-up of Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White. In June 2006, with that shop’s Republican partners facing scrutiny in the bribery probe of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), firm Democrats James Copeland and Lynnette Jacquez bolted. Their new outfit, called CJ Strategies, pulled in a respectable $1.83 million last year, their first full one in business. Republican partners William Lowery, Letitia White and Jean Denton — who reconstituted as Innovative Federal Strategies — didn’t do too badly either. They notched $4.29 million on the year, according to a tally by CQ MoneyLine. By collectively pulling down a shade more than $6 million, the firms have taken their medicine: Their haul in 2005 was $7.56 million. Still, in lean times and with feds circling, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Mountain of Lobbyists. The environmental group Sierra Club is sending in about 100 lobbying troops this week to generate support for HR 2169, the Clean Water Protection Act. “We are coming to Washington as citizen lobbyists,” said Kathy Selvage, who is from Wise, Va.

The group wants to put a stop to mountain mining practices that, Selvage says, end up polluting steams and watersheds.

“Our communities are under siege from mountain-top removal,” she said. “What the bill would do for us — if they were not able to dump that waste into the valleys and stream beds — we hope it would put an end to mountain-top mining. It pollutes the water. Sometimes the stream beds and watersheds are buried in all this rubble.”

So far the activities plan meetings in the offices of Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

K Street Moves. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has named Ileane Rosenthal as its senior managing director for strategic development. Rosenthal most recently was president of the International Biomedical Research Alliance. Before that, she was president of Churchill Partners, an independent consulting firm whose clients included the National Association of Manufacturers.

• John Ford, formerly a top Democratic health counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has joined the law and lobbying firm Sidley Austin as a counsel in the public policy, food and drug and health care practices. On the Hill, Ford served as the lead health care counsel to the committee’s chairman, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.).

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