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Trading Up

Trading Up. In case you missed the memo, May is world trade month. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the Bush administration, is marking the occasion — first recognized by President Franklin Roosevelt — with a fresh lobbying heave-ho to push for languishing free-trade agreements on Capitol Hill.

[IMGCAP(1)]As part of a multimillion-dollar effort, the chamber this week is launching an ad campaign on Google, with advertisements set to appear alongside Internet news and opinion stories that mention free-trade agreements, especially a pending pact with Colombia.

On Tuesday, the chamber is flying in more than 100 small-business members to lobby and to take part in a White House event with President Bush.

“We’re going to be blitzing the Hill,” said the chamber’s top trade lobbyist, Christopher Wenk. “We’ll have our buttons, our handouts. … It continues to get lost that the United States is still the leading exporter in the world.”

To drive home that message, the White House event will feature big-ticket U.S. goods from chamber member companies, items that get exported to countries such as Colombia, Panama and South Korea, all of which have pending trade agreements.

Expect to see Cannondale bicycles and possibly other items such as Caterpillar earth movers and possibly Harley-Davidson motorcycles on the White House’s South Lawn.

“We’ve encouraged the president to ride out on a Cannondale,” Wenk said. “We need to keep the momentum going, keep the pressure on. Some people are expecting the business community to just give up, but we are not. We are continuing and redoubling our efforts.”

After the White House event on Tuesday, Wenk added that the chamber would host its own product show and reception at its headquarters a block away.

“It is so, so important for Americans to understand that there are millions of jobs that depend on exports,” he said. “These products are exported overseas, and we could export a lot more of them if we could get these FTAs through Congress.”

Hot Ticket. Everyone knows the real fun at the upcoming political fests in Denver and the Twin Cities will happen far from the main stage of the convention floor. For the first time, the Grammy Foundation is getting in on the sideshow scene by hosting intimate musical-themed events in both cities.

While the organization, which is connected with the Recording Academy, still has not nailed down its big-name performers, it has selected venues in each town. In Denver, the Grammy Foundation will host its soiree at the Church, a gothic-style night club that takes its name from the building’s former incarnation as a house of worship.

The Twin Cities’ more buttoned-up venue, the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center, features a granite-covered exterior with star-shaped glass fissures, according to the center’s Web site.

“This is the first time the Grammy Foundation will have its own presence at the conventions,” said Daryl Friedman, the Recording Academy’s VP for advocacy and government relations. “These are bipartisan, nonpolitical events to raise awareness about music education issues to the leaders of both parties.”

Both events, called “Grammys Rock the Conventions,” will feature an acoustic set by artists who will talk about the importance of music education in their lives, Friedman added. “People will really have a sense of being close to the artists,” he said. “We’re very close to some very cool names, but nothing I can announce yet.”

Stay tuned.

Hot Ticket, Part II. When most lobbying firms mark their anniversary or welcome a new colleague, party-goers can expect the typical white wine, shrimp cocktail fete, with everyone home by 10 p.m.

But that’s not how lobbyist Jeffrey Kimbell celebrates. Kimbell’s health-care-focused Jeffrey J. Kimbell & Associates is turning 10, and he plans to start his June 14, Saturday night party at 10 p.m.

The event, according to Kimbell’s invites, will feature “high balls filled to the brim and moon walking to the tremendous tunes of Burnt Sienna and Kevin Ogilby & the Fornicators.”

Perhaps as a nod to those highballs, the invite also jokingly (we think!) advises that guests wear “Strong Cocktail Attire.”

Kimbell didn’t return a call seeking comment, so we’re left to speculate on what might constitute strong cocktail attire. That’s “a new one for me, and I thought I had heard them all,” wrote etiquette maven Letitia Baldrige in an e-mail.

If any of you Hill types are worried about attending such a shindig for reasons other than concern over what to wear, the invite assures: “This will be a very ‘widely attended & deeply educational event to discuss life science issues of the day.’” Phew.

K Street Moves. Eric Thompson, who spent 10 years as vice president for federal affairs at The Hartford insurance company, has joined the GOP staff of the House Financial Services Committee. He will focus on insurance matters, but work on other areas as well. “I’m just here to help the team,” he said, loosely quoting a line from the baseball movie “Bull Durham.”

Before joining Hartford, Thompson served on the Hill as chief of staff for then-Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.). Between his tenure at Hartford and his return to Capitol Hill, Thompson owned his own financial consulting business.

• John O’Neill, most recently the policy director and counsel in the Senate Whip operation under then-Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), has joined the law firm Venable as a partner in the legislative practice group. Before he joined Lott’s operation, O’Neill was the tax and pension counsel at the Senate Finance Committee under then-Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

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