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K Street Files: Melvin Hangs Shingle

Correction Appended

Harriet Melvin, a longtime lobbyist at Quinn Gillespie & Associates, has launched her own operation, the Capitol Group. Melvin had been with QGA almost since its inception in 2000. Prior to Quinn Gillespie, Melvin headed the Circuit City/CarMax Washington, D.C., office and spent five years at the National Federation of Independent Business.

[IMGCAP(1)]She took one client — the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers — with her. Melvin said the decision to start her firm was twofold: She wanted more flexibility to spend time with her 6-year-old and also wanted to start her own business. In addition to ASCAP, Melvin said she has two non-Lobbying Disclosure Act clients, which she declined to name.

Melvin’s departure follows several other recent exits at Quinn Gillespie, including Stacey Morton Bowlin and Allison Giles. Bowlin left for the communications firm FD, and Giles is now a lobbyist with the Cook Group. Associate Stephanie Sutton also left to become deputy director of outreach at Third Way this fall. Those departures follow Jeff Connaughton’s and Chris McCannell’s return to Capitol Hill. Connaughton is now chief of staff to Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) and McCannell serves as chief of staff to New York Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon.

Quinn Gillespie co-founder Jack Quinn said in an e-mail the partings were amicable and that he expects the firm’s head count to be up in 2010.

Additionally, Quinn said, “We are planning changes that will broaden our capabilities.—

Johnson Lands at Kratos. Public relations guru Paul Johnson is launching a new venture, Kratos. The former vice chairman of Fleishman-Hillard will be CEO at the strategic communications and business consulting firm. Kratos will not do lobbying, leaving government affairs work to its sister company National Strategies.

“It’s definitely a different turn on an old game,— Johnson said. “We’ll be positioning ourselves more as a business partner.—

The firm, which is part of the Interpoint Group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with seven regional offices. So far Johnson is staying mum about who else will be joining him at the firm, saying Kratos will make a personnel announcement next month.

The firm will focus on helping companies and CEOs be on the offensive in Washington, according to Johnson.

Luntz Lunges Left? Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who famously encouraged early skepticism of climate change bills, is now teaming up with the liberal-leaning, pro-climate-change-legislation Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. The odd bedfellows are coming together Thursday morning at the National Press Club to discuss climate change, cap-and-trade legislation and new research findings.

“His new research could have an equally significant impact on the next stage of the climate debate,— an Environmental Defense Fund press release said.

AIA Loses Members. USAA and insurance company ACE USA have dropped out of the American Insurance Association. The decision, which was made last fall, became official at the beginning of this year. The departures mean a loss in membership dues of a little more than $3 million, according to industry sources.

So far, AIA doesn’t appear to be sweating the loss.

“AIA has benefited from both companies’ membership but remains the preeminent trade association where the issues facing the property-casualty industry will be decided,— AIA spokesman Blaine Rethmeier said.

Political Intel. A couple years ago, computer-chip maker Intel pledged to beef up its Washington, D.C., operation to have a greater say on such issues as patent and immigration reform.

Now it appears the California-based firm is putting its money where its mouth was. The company spent $3.89 million on lobbying in 2009 — about $1.7 million more than the previous year, according to its lobbying disclosure filings with the Senate.

Intel reported it had spent $1 million on lobbying in the last three months of 2009. The company spent $590,000 on lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Among the issues the company spent resources on were climate change and energy legislation and immigration reform. The company also relied on a dozen outside firms to help with the lobbying including Cassidy & Associates and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti.

Intel officials said the numbers reflect their lobbying push.

“It has been a notable effort in creating a D.C. presence,— Intel spokeswoman Lisa Malloy said. She said the company hired two new lobbyists for its D.C. office: Ryan Triplette, who had worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Peter Muller, who had worked for Genentech. Malloy said the company had been active in the debate over health care legislation, particularly involving the use of technology.

While Intel dramatically increased its lobbying budget last year, it spent more on lobbying earlier in the last decade. In 2003, the company spent almost $7 million.

K Street Moves. Paul Kangas is heading to insurance company Assurant in February. Kangas, who has been assistant vice president at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America since 2006, joins as vice president for federal policy and government relations. Kangas previous worked for then-Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) on the House Financial Services Committee.

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Correction: Jan. 19, 2010

The article misstated Paul Johnson’s former title with Fleishman-Hillard. He was vice chairman.

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