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K Street Files: About That Sale

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs a House subcommittee tasked with overseeing elections, recently expressed “serious concerns— with the sale of an electronic voting machine company to another manufacturer.

[IMGCAP(1)]The chairwoman for the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections wrote a letter on Friday to Aldo Tesi, president of Elections Systems & Software. Tesi’s firm is finalizing an acquisition of Premier Election Solutions, the voting machine division of ATM-maker Diebold Inc.

Since its announcement, the sale has drawn criticism from Democratic lawmakers such as Lofgren, who asked the company in her letter to answer 11 questions about possible layoffs and the “anticompetitive impact— of the sale.

Lofgren also said she is worried how the Help America Vote Act “may be stunted— by the consolidation.

“The voting system industry in the United States is highly concentrated with only a few companies providing voting equipment and services to election officials,— Lofgren wrote. “ES&S and Diebold’s Premier Election Solutions are the two largest voting system companies. The acquisition of Diebold’s Premier Election Solutions by ES&S will give ES&S more than a majority of the market share and could greatly affect the ability of other companies to compete and new ones to enter the market.—

According to Senate records, Election Systems & Software does not employ a lobbyist, while Diebold retains Crowell & Moring. Senate records show that Diebold has spent less than $5,000 on lobbying activities so far this year.

Green Machine. Utilities companies and retail giant Gap Inc. launched a new environmental coalition on Wednesday that will pressure lawmakers to adopt more stringent environmental regulations.

“We are businesses from a broad cross-section of American industry that support Congressional action to enact clean energy and climate legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now is the time to act,— members of the new American Businesses for Clean Energy said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.

The group’s roster includes 22 companies, including DB Climate Change Advisors, National Grid, New York Power Authority and the Colorado resort Aspen/Snowmass.

But what’s exactly in store for the new organization remains to be seen. The coalition is attempting to enlist more member companies, which can sign up on the group’s Web site. But it’s unknown whether it will make a substantial lobbying push or pool its resources to purchase issue advertising.

“Membership in the American Businesses for Clean Energy is open to any business, business federation or association that supports meaningful Congressional action to enact climate and energy legislation requiring significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,— the group states on its Web site.

Scrubbing In for Debate. The American College of Surgeons went on record Wednesday against Senate health care reform proposals.

The college, along with 20 surgical groups, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) saying it is prepared to mobilize opposition to the Senate bill if the chamber’s package does not include several measures, including a permanent fix to the physician payment system under Medicare.

The group said it supports health care reforms generally. But “we cannot support legislation that puts at risk both quality of care and patient access,— said A. Brent Eastman, chairman of the American College of Surgeons board of regents, in a press statement. “Our system is badly in need of reform but if the legislation does not address these concerns, it will do little to fix its underlying problems and may make it worse.—

Other groups that signed the letter include the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the Society for Vascular Surgery, among others.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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