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K Street Files: Name Change

The firm Tongour Simpson Holsclaw & Cooney has added its only full-time Democratic lobbyist and has changed its name to the TCH Group.

TCH’s newest hire is Carl Gist Jr., who was mostly recently a legislative assistant to Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.).

Barrow serves on the House Energy and Commerce panel and the Agriculture Committee, and he is also a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate, fiscal-minded Democrats who are viewed as pro-business.

“Carl is well regarded on the Hill and has worked closely with a number of House Democratic Members and their staff, particularly Blue Dog and [Congressional Black Caucus] offices,” TCH founder Mike Tongour said.

Before heading to Capitol Hill, Gist was special assistant to the Democratic National Committee’s political director.

The name change to TCH refers to the initials of firm partners Tongour, Manus Cooney and Brad Holsclaw. Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) is no longer a lobbyist with the firm.

TCH’s client lists includes the American Gaming Association, Credit Suisse, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association and Tobacco Free Kids, among others.

Harvest Time. Now that the August recess and quadrennial political conventions have yielded to a flurry of September Congressional activity, lobbying groups like the National Farmers Union are gearing back up.

The farmers group is planning a fly-in lobbying day beginning today. It will

include more than 150 family farmers and ranchers who will descend on Capitol Hill to try to focus lawmakers’ attention on climate change and policies that would increase the use of biofuels, trade agreements, health care issues and Congressional oversight of the Agriculture Department’s implementation of this year’s farm bill.

“There is nothing more effective than sharing a personal story, face to face, with policymakers,” National Farmers Union President Tom Buis said. “Walking the halls of Congress gives our members a chance to communicate with their representatives and influence policy in Congress.”

Buis said his group plans to focus squarely on the recent food-vs.-fuel debate — in which groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers of America have blamed increasing food costs on the use of food products like corn for fuels.

“Skyrocketing energy costs have a much more significant impact on the price of food than the price of corn, or any other raw commodity,” Buis said.

The agrarian advocates will also press Congress on a subject that is not typical “red meat” for the group: health care legislation to help those in rural areas buy insurance and have access to generic drugs.

Serious Business. John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, told reporters last week that health care and energy are among his members’ top priorities for the remaining days of the 110th Congress.

In another example of the bottom line determining the top priorities, Castellani said his members, all CEOs of the top U.S. companies, are concerned about creating “the right cost structure” in order to be competitive globally.

Castellani said the cost of health care has long been “consistently the No. 1 [cost] pressure” for his members. Asked whether legislators could afford to wait well into the next administration, he said no.

“From our perspective, it cannot wait until 2010,” he said, adding that what the group doesn’t want to do is to return to the attitude that has been prevalent since 1994, the year of the Clinton health care debacle.

During those 14 years, he said, “we have so scared off everybody that everybody returns to their second choice, which is do nothing.”

Energy has recently become a top priority for CEOs, Castellani said, as oil still tops more than $100 a barrel. The group sent Members of Congress a letter urging them to support President Bush in allowing drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and to seek ways to reduce energy demands.

K Street Moves. Liz Brinkerhoff, most recently the deputy director in the Washington lobbying office of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D), is joining Duane Morris Government Affairs as an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

Before serving as Corzine’s advocate in the nation’s capital, Brinkerhoff was a legislative assistant for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), where she focused on defense, veterans, transportation, homeland security and appropriations.

• The National Foreign Trade Council has added Susan Frank, who had been deputy general counsel at SAIC in McLean, Va., as the new director of its affiliate USA Engage. Before her time at SAIC, Frank was a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

USA Engage’s former director Jake Colvin was also promoted as NFTC vice president for global trade issues. USA Engage is a coalition of businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations that advocates for trade throughout the globe.

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