K Street Files: Ricchetti Eyes Obama Gig as ALL Examines Terminations

Posted April 16, 2010 at 5:19pm

The American League of Lobbyists is looking into whether the requirements for registering to lobby need to be changed after slews of K Streeters, including Steve Ricchetti, have opted to deregister.

[IMGCAP(1)]Ricchetti, who returned to lobbying after a stint as White House deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, stopped lobbying before the fourth quarter of 2008.

Ricchetti’s clients have included the American Council of Life Insurers, the Association of American Railroads and AT&T.

“For me it was certainly wanting to at least have the potential to engage in public service in the administration,” Ricchetti said of his decision to stop lobbying. He still works as a consultant at the firm, and brother Jeff Ricchetti continues to lobby for clients.

ALL’s President Dave Wenhold says his group surveyed its members on what changes should be made to the lobbying rules. Many lobbyists deregistered after the Obama administration banned anyone who lobbied for the past two years from joining the administration.

ALL is focused on the calculation lobbyists make of whether they spend 20 percent of their time for a particular client on lobbying activities. “It’s pretty clear most of our members want a change,” Wenhold said.

But just because they want a change doesn’t mean they are supporting legislation that Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) has put forward. It would create new definitions for lobbyists and stricter rules for meetings with Members of Congress.

Wenhold described the proposal as “simply insane” but said he hopes to meet with the Member to discuss lobbying reforms.

Looking Out for the Middle Guy. New business coalition Mid-Tier Advocacy, which wants the government to recognize middle-sized companies when awarding contracts, is ramping up its activities on Capitol Hill.

“There are a number of proposals that are being discussed on the Hill,” explained Tonya Speed, a principal with Washington

Premier Consulting, who serves as the coalition’s acting director. “In government contracting, there’s small and then there’s other-than-small, which means you can find some of these mid-tier companies competing against SAIC, Northrop Grumman, Boeing — companies that are billion-dollar corporations.”

The new coalition’s member companies have annual revenues of $10 million to about $250 million. The group is lobbying to give middle-sized companies their own area in which to compete against similar-sized firms for government contracts

“There’s a major problem because even within the government, there are numerous definitions of what is and what isn’t small,” said Alfred Elliott, vice president of defense contractor JB&A Inc., which does $57 million annual and has 190 employees.

Elliott, whose company is a charter member of Mid-Tier Advocacy, said the group wants the government to update the North American Industry Classification System codes, which help the government decide which companies can qualify for small-business contracts.

“Right now, you go from being a small business to a situation where you are too large to be considered small, but you’re really too small to compete head-on-head with major, billion-dollar corporations.”

On the Town. More than 300 National Restaurant Association members snacked on food at Acadiana along with staff from at least 200 Congressional offices Wednesday night at the trade association’s reception honoring D.C.’s culinary stars.

The fete was part of the group’s annual legislative conference, where restaurateurs hit Capitol Hill to press their case for why lawmakers should return the business-meal tax deduction to 80 percent, among other issues.

The event also brought out K Streeters from the NRA, including top lobbyist Scott DeFife and President Dawn Sweeney. David DiMartino and Michael Meehan of Blue Line Strategic Communications, and Jennifer Larkin Lukawski from BGR Group, were also in attendance.

Plenty of Members of Congress were also among the minglers, including Reps. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.).

Tech-tonic Shifts. Jeff Lande, former executive vice president for strategic initiatives at TechAmerica, has struck out on his own. Since leaving the trade group at the end of December, Lande has started a new venture, the Lande Group. The firm will do a mix of lobbying, business strategy and business facilitation, said Lande, who continues to work for TechAmerica as an outside consultant.

He has brought on a couple of other clients, whom he declined to name. So far, he hasn’t registered with the Senate to lobby.

Lande’s not the only one making a move in the tech arena. Steve Hartell has jumped to Cisco, where he will be director of government relations, after six years with EMC Corp.

Gene Irisari, deputy chief of staff to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), has also moved downtown to Texas Instruments. Irisari joined TI as director of government affairs. He was McCaul’s lead staffer on the Congressional High Tech Caucus.

K Street Moves. Citigroup Inc. is promoting Bob Schellhas to managing director and head of federal government affairs. Schellhas, who has been with Citi since 2003, has been Citi’s chief tax lobbyist for the past year. He replaces Heather Wingate, who departed to start Nomura’s Washington office.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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