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K Street Files: Iranian Americans Feel the Love

The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans may be just a year old, but it didn’t take long for the group to learn the ways of Washington, D.C. In a move to secure cash for campaign contributions, the organization merged earlier this month with the Iranian American Political Action Committee. The marriage means that PAAIA now has about $35,000 next election cycle to promote its mission of community, influence and image building.

[IMGCAP(1)]“Having two groups was creating confusion on the Hill,” said Babak Hoghooghi, executive director of PAAIA. “All along our intention was to have a connected PAC, and with the missions being very much in alignment, we felt it was important for the two organizations to merge.”

For now, the groups expects to focus on immigration, civil liberties and securing a minority business status that would allow Iranian Americans to apply for a special government designation based on ethnicity.

“We feel there is a lot more that can be done and will be done … particularly in educating our own community to become involved in this process,” Hoghooghi said.

Last Chance? A group of never-give-up business lobbyists, still holding out hope for stalled free-trade agreements with Panama and Colombia, are trading the swampy environs of the nation’s capital for the tropical temps of Panama.

The 13 lobbyists, traveling under the auspices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led Latin America Trade Coalition, will be in Panama on Friday and Saturday to meet with the country’s president, vice president, trade minister and business leaders.

“The focus of the trip is to reinforce our support for the Panama free-trade agreement,” said the chamber’s trade lobbyist, Christopher Wenk, who is missing the Panama trip to travel with another delegation to Geneva to lobby for a jump-start of the Doha round of trade talks.

The Panama FTA has been held up largely because the head of Panama’s National Assembly, Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, has been indicted in a U.S. court for killing an American soldier. Wenk said Gonzalez is expected to step down from that post, potentially easing the path forward for the FTA.

But, Wenk added, “The pathway forward to Panama leads through Colombia. Our eye is still on the ball, which is getting a vote on Colombia by the end of the year. Only then could we move forward on the other ones.” There’s also a pending FTA with South Korea.

Lobbyists participating in this week’s Panama trip include Doug Goudie of the National Association of Manufacturers; Selina Jackson of UPS; Caterpillar’s Bill Lane; Nicole Venable, the chamber’s director for international trade and global competitiveness; and Monisha Primlani of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, among others.

Fishman Stays Put. Patton Boggs COO Ira Fishman looked to be on his way out of the law business earlier this month, but it appears he has had a change of heart. Managing Partner Stuart Pape confirmed that Fishman decided for “personal reasons” to stay. Fishman did not return calls.

K Street Moves. Anne Marie Finley, who ran her own firm, Biotech Policy Group, and previously worked at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has joined Celgene Corp. as its vice president of government affairs. Her résumé also includes a stint with the Food and Drug Administration.

• NSI, a Washington, D.C.-based government and business consulting firm, has brought on board Robert Beck, a former budget director for the state of Florida under Gov. Charlie Crist (R), as a vice president. Beck will focus on Flordia state government affairs work.

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