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K Street Files: Burn Rate

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee recently lost two key legislative aides, reinforcing the Texas Democrat’s reputation for churning through staff.

[IMGCAP(1)]Jackson Lee’s office confirmed last week that former Legislative Director Arthur Sidney and Legislative Assistant Christina McWilson both left in late May, but said both departures were amicable.

Sidney did not return a message left at his office, and McWilson declined to comment.

Sidney is now Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-Ga.) chief of staff, and McWilson now works for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Of their departures, Jackson Lee’s chief of staff, Leon Buck, would say only that “they left to pursue other career opportunities.—

The Congresswoman, Buck said, “is a hardworking and dedicated public servant who demands a lot for her staff as well as from her self.—

A lobbyist who spoke with K Street Files took it a bit further. The source called the Congresswoman “brilliant— but “extremely driven,— saying the lawmaker “wants to be involved in every aspect of being a member of Congress,— including legislation, press operations and working with groups off the Hill.

“It’s very difficult for staff,— the lobbyist said. “People just aren’t able to keep up with her pace.—

The lobbyist also added that high turnover is “not unique to her,— noting that Democratic Reps. Brian Baird (Wash.) and Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) are also well-known for burning through staffers. Spokesmen for both Baird’s and Weiner’s offices declined to comment.

“If you talk to many offices on the Hill, they would tell you that their bosses have different personalities in regard to how they treat them versus how they treat outside folks,— the lobbyist said.

Ryan Draws Crowd. With lobbyists barred from attending the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee joint fundraiser Thursday because President Barack Obama was headlining it, many a Democratic power broker opted to fete Citigroup lobbyist turned Elmendorf Strategies lobbyist Jimmy Ryan.

In addition to wishing Ryan their best, more than a few used the opportunity to commiserate on their pariah status.

“Since almost all of us were banned’ from attending the supposed marquee event of the night, it was great to get together with good friends in Washington, D.C., to celebrate Jimmy’s new position and to catch up with each other,— said one Democratic lobbyist in attendance. “I hope they had a good time. We did.—

Among the many lobbyists who toasted Ryan, in addition to his new boss, Steve Elmendorf, were former Citi colleagues Nick Calio and Paul Thornell. Also in attendance were Duberstein Group’s Brian Griffin, John Buscher of Holland & Knight, Patrick Murphy of mCapitol Management, AT&T’s Lyndon Boozer, Tommy Quinn of Venable, and Heather Podesta of Heather Podesta Associates.

Allstate All Over Teens. Concerned with teen driving statistics, Allstate Insurance Co. is ramping up its efforts to get a law passed that would increase the driving age and put limits on teen drivers nationally.

The company is driving home its point with a billboard campaign that will be unveiled Tuesday afternoon in the Gallery Place-Chinatown atrium, displaying nearly 5,000 key chains. The key chains represent the nearly 5,000 teen driving deaths that occur annually.

“It’s part of our broader campaign to raise awareness,— Allstate spokesman Adam Shores said.

Allstate is part of a larger coalition Safe Roads 4 Teens, which is pushing the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act.

Radio Real Estate. The National Association of Realtors has hit the airwaves. But this isn’t an advertising campaign.

The organization has launched its own radio program, “Real Estate Today,— that runs on WMAL in Washington, D.C., and on SIRIUS/XM satellite as well as several local stations across the country.

The host is longtime radio personality Gil Gross; guests have so far included Members, such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

“We feel that since NAR is the chief advocate for housing policy and homeownership, it was up to us to take the initiative here to get the information out to people about the housing market and home ownership,— said Lucien Salvant, head of public affairs for the association. “We do explain government policy and bills before Congress and how they will affect consumers.—

Salvant said the broadcasts, which began earlier this year, include straight news, commentary and analysis. Some of the segments give tips on interior decorating or how to give your home better curb appeal through landscaping.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there,— Salvant added. “People were hearing scare stories about various markets, and not all of them were wrong.— But, he said, the markets between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians were not as affected by the boom, and so weren’t as affected by the bust. “Housing is still a good long-term investment.—

Salvant declined to say what the NAR’s budget is for the show and said that the program is too new to have any ratings data.

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