K Street Files: Hey, Big Spenders

Posted July 21, 2009 at 6:22pm

Correction Appended

The nation’s big business groups, oil companies and the health care sector were among the biggest spenders on federal lobbying in the second quarter of the year, according to recently filed disclosure reports.

[IMGCAP(1)]The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported spending $7.4 million, down from $7.9 million during the same period last year, but the most of any other entity as of press time. The reports were due by midnight Monday.

General Electric, whose units operate in such heavily regulated industries as defense and broadcasting, reported spending $7.2 million for the quarter, up from $5.4 million in the second quarter of 2008.

“The issues under discussion on Capitol Hill — whether it’s clean energy and climate change, health care and financial services reform or defense — these are issues of great importance to our businesses and our employees,— GE spokesman Peter O’Toole said. “We’ve had to ask our employees to do a lot more this year, and especially this quarter.—

Health care reform legislation has helped fuel much of the top spenders. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $6.2 million, while its member company Pfizer Inc. reported spending $5.6 million. The seniors’ lobby AARP doled out $5.3 million, while the American Medical Association came in at $4 million.

AARP, a key stakeholder in the health care reform debate, did report spending less in the second quarter of this year than in the same period in 2008, when it reported $6.5 million. An AARP spokesman, however, said that the change in spending was due to overreporting in 2008 and that the group’s percentage of lobbying spending dedicated to health care reform has increased in 2009.

Oil companies Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP America also were among the top spenders, as climate change legislation has been a top Congressional priority. Chevron reported spending $6.1 million for the second quarter, up from $3.2 million in the same reporting period last year. BP’s spending nearly doubled, from $2.6 million in the second quarter of 2008 to $4.1 million in 2009’s second quarter. Exxon Mobil reported $4.3 million for 2009’s second quarter, down from $5.1 million in the second quarter of 2008.

Game Boy. Entertainment industry lobbyist Erik Huey, a partner at Kilpatrick Stockton, is becoming the top lobbyist for the video game trade association. Beginning next month, Huey will be senior vice president for government affairs at the Entertainment Software Association, where he will oversee the group’s federal and state lobbying efforts.

“As game technologies and gamer demographics continue to evolve, the entertainment software industry will rely on Erik and his team to help foster a beneficial environment for our industry’s innovation and creativity,— Michael Gallagher, the group’s CEO, said in a statement to Roll Call.

Huey has also worked at the law and lobbying firm Venable with former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.). In 2007, the Hollywood Reporter named Huey one of its 100 most influential media and entertainment lawyers.

Second Act. James Kemp, son of conservative icon Jack Kemp, is mulling over what will become of Kemp Partners, the firm he started with his father and the onetime GOP Member’s former chief of staff.

“Cleary, Kemp Partners without my dad is much different than it used to be,— James Kemp said this week. “Kemp Partners is a vehicle I’m figuring out what to do with, frankly. I’m still representing a few clients that have been with us for a long time. … I’m still in the middle of making clear how we’re going to operate.—

Jack Kemp, who was a professional football player before entering politics, died in May. After nearly two decades in Congress, Kemp ran for president in 1988 and later became President George H.W. Bush’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Along with his son, Jack Kemp started his firm in 2002 with J.T. Taylor, who left two weeks ago to work at the investment firm DeMatteo Monness, a move all parties described as amicable.

“We’re expanding DeMatteo Monness’ policy capabilities and generating new research products,— he said.

Treading Strongly. A coalition of tire importers that are feuding with the United Steelworkers in an International Trade Commission case wants a meeting with the U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

The American Coalition for Free Trade in Tires sent a letter on Tuesday to Kirk asking for a sit-down after reports indicated he had met with USW already. “The Americans working in the tire distribution and retail sectors would appreciate the same opportunity to discuss how placing a tax on tire imports would severely damage our industry,— wrote Dennis King, president of Dunlap & Kyle Co. Inc., who serves as the coalition’s chairman. “For every job saved’ by this protection, up to 25 jobs will be lost.—

The coalition was formed this spring in response to a petition that USW filed at the ITC seeking to limit tire imports.

The firm Jochum Shore & Trossevin represents the coalition, which includes such members as Del-Nat Tire Corp., Orteck Global Supply & Distribution Co., Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. and Foreign Tire Sales Inc. The ITC has recommended that President Barack Obama side with the United Steelworkers.

“The administration needs to hear first-hand the devastating impact this tariff will have on small and medium-sized American businesses,— partner Jim Jochum said.

K Street Moves. The lobbying practice at Polsinelli Shughart has nabbed Susan McAvoy, most recently chief of staff for Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), as a legislative director, working with Martin Frost, a former Democratic Congressman from Texas who is also at the firm.

McAvoy actually started her career working for Frost, a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

She also previously worked as press secretary for then-Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who now runs the Motion Picture Association of America. “It’s great to be working with Martin again,— she said in a statement.

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Correction: July 22, 2009

The article misidentified Erik Huey’s work history. Huey worked with former Sen. Birch Bayh at the law firm Venable, not for him on Capitol Hill.