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K Street Files: Cashing In on Conservatives

Former presidential contender Mitt Romney may not officially be running for office, but the one-time Massachusetts governor is certainly raising money for his leadership political action committee like a candidate.

[IMGCAP(1)]Romney is one of several Republicans looking to cash in on the influx of GOPers this month coming to Washington, D.C., for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Several lobbyists and GOP insiders are hosting a “Stars and Strikes: Bowling With Mitt” event on Feb. 17 at Lucky Strike Lanes at Gallery Place.

Romney’s K Street hosts include Navigators Global’s Phil Anderson, Jim Pitts and Cesar Conda; Drew Maloney of Ogilvy Government Relations; Joe Wall of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America; and Patton Boggs’ Ben Ginsberg. At $150 for attendees, the event is targeting lower-dollar donors. The hosts agreed to raise or give $1,000, and co-hosts are expected to give or raise $500, according to the invitation.

CPAC keynoter Marco Rubio is also getting in on the action. The Florida Republican Senate candidate will be holding court 7:30 to 9 p.m. Feb. 17 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House near the Washington Convention Center. Co-hosts include Republican lobbyists Brett Loper of AdvaMed, Maloney of Ogilvy Government Relations and Republican strategist Matt Schlapp.

United for Brown. The anti-abortion group, Americans United for Life, appears willing to overlook newly elected Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) support for abortion rights because he is being credited with halting the passage of a health care reform bill they dislike.

“Scott Brown’s unexpected victory in Massachusetts was a shot heard around the world for life,” the group wrote in a release e-mailed shortly before Brown was sworn in last week. The group was thrilled that Brown has vowed to oppose the Senate Democratic health care reform bill that abortion opponents came out against because they say it would provide federal subsidies for health policies that cover abortions.

However, the group’s support for Brown also raises questions because the lawmaker has publicly stated that he supports abortion rights.

When asked in a television interview by Barbara Walters whether he supported abortion rights, Brown replied, “Yes, because I feel this issue is best handled between a woman and her doctor and her family.”

Americans United for Life spokesman Matthew Faraci suggested there was nothing inconsistent about the group’s support for Brown, saying he opposed federal funding for abortion — which is the issue in the health care reform bill.

“I think when we look at his track record, there is common ground,” said Faraci, who also noted that Brown has supported bans on late-term abortions.

But Americans United for Life later sent out an amended release on Brown that acknowledged that his support for Roe v. Wade had been “widely reported” but also noted his opposition to federal funding for abortion and other restrictions.

Taking Up the Cause. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may no longer have hired guns to do their bidding on Capitol Hill, but that hasn’t stopped the financial services industry from weighing in on the government-sponsored enterprises’ future. National Association of Federal Credit Unions President Fred Becker sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner calling for safeguards when reforming the current GSE system.

“The GSEs, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, provide credit unions the vital liquidity necessary to enable them to serve their member-owners’ mortgage needs through active participation in the secondary market,” Becker wrote.

Fannie and Freddie stopped lobbying after they went into government conservatorship last year. Freddie had one lone lobbying report in 2009: Bob Moss of Bob Moss Associates filed a first-quarter lobbying report for $30,000. He was lobbying the Senate and House on “legislative issues dealing with the regulation” of GSEs, according to Senate records.

Farmers Rally. The National Black Farmers Association is calling out Congress for not acting fast enough to fulfill President Barack Obama’s call in May 2009 to put $1.15 billion in the 2010 budget to compensate black farmers for discrimination by the Agriculture Department.

NBFA President John Boyd is calling for regional rallies across the country in such places as Montgomery, Ala.; Columbus, Ga.; and Richmond, Va., culminating in a rally Feb. 15 in front of the Agriculture Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“Congress has not acted, and time is running out,” Boyd wrote in an e-mail announcing the rallies. “Tell Congress it’s time for justice.”

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