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K Street Files: Wyden on Hot Streak?

Online gambling advocates are cheering an amendment to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) health care bill. Put forward by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the amendment would increase low-income health care subsidies by taxing Internet gaming. Wyden’s amendment would increase the subsidies to 400 percent of the federal poverty level and lower cost-sharing.

[IMGCAP(1)]While it’s unlikely Baucus is going to open the online gambling battle in the midst of health care reform, proponents of the measure, including the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, are hoping it does just that.

“There aren’t many other industries asking to be regulated and taxed,— said Michael Waxman, a spokesman for the group. “We’re hoping that the committee gives full consideration to the amendment … and has an honest conversation about why it makes sense to finally end a failed prohibition.—

Coincidentally, the group is in the middle of an online ad buy pushing for the repeal of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) proposed legislation earlier this year that would set up a regulatory framework for online gambling in the U.S.

Edwina Rogers Is No Housewife. Republican lobbyist Edwina Rogers’ name has been circulating as a possible contender for Bravo’s the “Real Housewives of D.C.— since the TV show’s producers last year began scoping out potential women to feature on the show.

Rogers, executive director of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, is no newbie to Washington, D.C., media. Her turn on a pilot episode of “PowerHouse,— a show focused on rich and powerful Washingtonians, where she wrapped small gifts with rolls of money from the U.S. Treasury, made the rounds as a YouTube sensation.

But it appears Rogers won’t be taking a second dance on TV as a D.C. housewife, according to Roll Call sources.

So far Rogers is staying mum. She did not respond to e-mail and telephone calls, but a spokesman from BGR Group, the lobbying firm of her husband, Ed Rogers, threw cold water on the idea, saying he’d been told Edwina Rogers would not appear on the show.

Ensign Bleeds Staff. Embattled Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) is losing more staff following his admission earlier this year that he had an affair with a former staffer.

Jason Mulvihill and Brooke Allmon are the latest Ensign aides set to leave.

Mulvihill, Ensign’s legislative director, is leaving to “pursue a career in the private sector,— according to Ensign spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher.

Allmon, the deputy chief of staff, is relocating to Omaha, Neb., to join her fiance, Fisher said.

“Both staffers are loyal public servants, and Sen. Ensign wishes them the best of luck in their future endeavors,— Fisher said.

The most recent departures come after longtime Chief of Staff John Lopez and Communications Director Tory Mazzola departed. Lopez joined the Nevada-based lobby shop R&R Partners earlier this month. Mazzola joined the National Republican Congressional Committee in July.

It’s unclear whether further departures are coming.

Ensign did get one boost to his staff. Pam Thiessen, who worked for him at the Republican Policy Committee before Ensign had to give up that post, is returning to his personal office as legislative director.

“I think every one has a different circumstance for leaving,— said a source familiar with the departures. “I can just say, he’s losing a lot of talented people regardless of this whole mess he’s in.—

Hangers On. Nearly four months after the automaker pledged to fire all of its hired help, a quartet of lobbying firms continue to represent taxpayer-owned General Motors Co. According to Senate records, the Washington Tax Group, Ricchetti Inc., Bob Moss Associates and Baker & McKenzie all have yet to file termination reports after disclosing this summer that they were continuing to be paid by GM.

The automaker on June 2 announced it was firing all its outside consultants, letting go the Duberstein Group, Greenberg Traurig, the Nickles Group and other firms that raked in hefty fees from GM in the past year. But the firm’s arrangement with contract firms grew uncomfortable on June 1, when GM announced in a bankruptcy court that it had a new owner: the U.S. government, Canadian authorities and GM’s bondholders.

The Washington Tax Group’s Greg Nickerson said GM is not paying any of its contract lobbyists, while a GM spokesman declined to comment on the issue. The three remaining firms either declined to speak about their relationships with the company or did not return telephone calls Tuesday.

Lobby Day. Salvadoran-American leaders will begin a Capitol Hill lobbying effort today to discuss the 2010 Census and immigration reform. The two-day campaign will target 80 Members who have large constituencies of Salvadorans, a Hispanic immigrant bloc that the group claims is the nation’s third largest. This week’s happenings, dubbed the Salvadoran-American Leadership Summit, will kick off this morning at the Service Employees International Union’s Dupont Circle headquarters.

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