K Street Files: On a Mission

Posted September 26, 2008 at 6:28pm

Remember that speech President Bush gave to the nation last week to press for passage of his bailout plan and to reassure the country that the money in federally insured banks is absolutely safe?

[IMGCAP(1)] Dan Mica sure does.

Mica, president and chief executive officer of the Credit Union National Association, is on the lobbying equivalent of a rampage.

That’s because Bush, despite Mica’s intense efforts, neglected to say that credit unions are just as safe a place to stash your cash.

In his remarks, Bush said accounts insured under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are guaranteed up to $100,000. Mica, a former Democratic Congressman from Florida, is trying to get the word out that credit unions, while not insured under the FDIC, have a parallel, federally backed insurance system that is also good up to $100,000 per account. Credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

“We had an indication at the staff level that it would be included” in Bush’s Wednesday speech, Mica said last week. After it wasn’t included, Mica added, “we had feedback saying it was an oversight.”

Mica’s not backing down. He said he has penned a letter to Bush and is reaching out to administration officials tasked with the bailout. He is also beating down the doors of Members of Congress.

“We’re working on some ads,” Mica said. “We don’t know what the size of the campaign will be. … We have been in contact with all the government agencies that are talking on this.”

So far, Mica said, credit unions haven’t noticed a run on their organizations, but he said some account-holders have inquired about moving their money into an FDIC insured bank.

“Obviously you’re causing some concern and anxiety to people if they’re interested in taking their money out,” he said. “It’s not massive, but we’re trying to make sure it doesn’t get that way. We’re all trying to calm the waters.”

Infused With Energy. In recent days, it’s been hard for lobbyists outside of the financial services sector to get any attention from Capitol Hill. But try they will.

A recently formed group, Consumers United for Energy Solutions, is working hard to make sure Members keep energy at the forefront of the agenda. As such, CUES released a poll showing that most voters want Congress to address high energy prices by enacting a comprehensive energy policy.

“The poll is the latest to show energy is the No. 1 issue for voters,” the group said in a statement, showing 43 percent said it was the most important issue that they would consider when heading to the polls in November.

CUES, which formed this summer, bills itself as a coalition of large and small energy consumers that want urgent Congressional action on policies that would spur energy efficiency and conservation, more renewable and alternative sources of energy and increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas.

“We can’t wait for the political page to turn next year before taking meaningful action,” said the group’s chairman, Peter Molinaro.

Blog This. If you don’t have enough to read already, there’s a new blog on the street — KStreetCafe.com — on which a group of lobbyists and other public affairs types will post about ways that technology and social media help shape public policy.

“K Street used to be synonymous with the old school of lobbying, where guys in dark suits met behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms,” wrote Jeff Mascott, a blog contributor and managing director of the Adfero Group. “Thanks to technology, the power of ideas is replacing the power brokers, and K Street Café is where those ideas flourish.”

Other contributors include: Alan Rosenblatt of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Carie Lewis of the Humane Society of the United States, FreedomWorks’ Chris Kinnan, Verizon’s John Czwartacki and Kathy Goldschmidt of the Congressional Management Foundation, among others.

K Street Moves. The Podesta Group, the lobbying firm of Democrat Tony Podesta, will add a new principal from House leadership staff in November.

Jaime Harrison, 32, who is currently director of floor operations and counsel for Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), is decamping for downtown.

“I interviewed with a few places, and narrowed it down to two,” Harrison said. “I met Tony a few years ago, but we got a chance to talk during a staff trip to Australia on Australia-American dialogue in August 2007. I got to Melbourne, and there’s Tony and Heather,” he said, referring to Podesta’s wife, Heather Podesta, who has her own lobby firm.

“I’ll be the fifth African-American over there, and that’s important. It definitely told me where he was,” Harrison said.

In a press statement, Podesta said Harrison’s “knowledge of the legislative process and the leaders who make it work will be a real asset to our firm and its clients.”

Before Harrison joined the Whip’s office, he was executive director of the House Democratic Caucus.

A South Carolinian, Harrison interned for Clyburn 11 years ago while in school at Yale University.

• F/S Capitol Consulting has lost its second employee to the office of Rep. Don Cazayoux (D-La.). Cazayoux’s chief of staff, Katie Nee, a former F/S associate, has hired Nadia Egziabher to serve as the Congressman’s legislative correspondent. The lobbying firm has added Elizabeth Gray, a former intern with Clyburn, and Tom Papa, a one-time lobbyist for the Rhode Island Association of Firefighters.

• Kevin Herglotz, most recently senior vice president for public relations and government affairs at Safeway Inc., has launched a government affairs and public relations outfit called HPA Strategies Inc.

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