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K St. Files: Pickens Drills for Congressional Supporters

Oilman T. Boone Pickens took to Capitol Hill this week, pitching Members again on his plan to curtail the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by using natural gas and wind energy. He says oil imports threaten the nation’s security by sending cash to hostile regimes that finance insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Buying oil from OPEC is paying for both sides of the war,” Pickens told reporters Monday at a lunchtime meeting, where he noshed on an iceberg lettuce wedge and sorbet.

Pickens’ latest charge is a rehash of a $60 million-plus public relations campaign he began roughly two years ago. At the time the “Pickens Plan” was launched, American military casualties mounted in the Middle East and gasoline hovered above $4 per gallon.

Even with Iraq stabilized and a gallon of gas now under $3, Pickens isn’t relenting.

On his website, Pickens states that “oil prices have come down from the staggering highs of last summer, but lower prices have not reduced our dependence on foreign oil or lessened the risks to either our economy or our security.”

While in town this week, the octogenarian ran through his talking points again with the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). His plan calls for generating power with wind turbines and cutting down on oil consumption by running heavy trucks on natural gas.

Pickens also offered his thoughts on the massive oil slick now approaching the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. He said “you’re going to have accidents” and that the security concerns far outweigh any environmental critiques of offshore drilling.

“For an airline, do you stop flying?” Pickens asked. “If you want to shut down drilling, you’ll just import more foreign oil. … The security risk is way beyond the BP spill.”

Lobbying Reformers Pile On

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is jumping on the reform wagon, co-sponsoring a bill that would permanently ban former Members of Congress from becoming lobbyists. Tester joined his colleague Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who introduced the bill last week.

The measure also would increase the cooling-off period to six years before former Congressional staffers could register as lobbyists. Staffers currently face a one-year ban from lobbying.

Democrats’ move to implement stricter lobbying provisions doesn’t upset Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group. The Democratic lobbyist said, “I’m in favor of all restrictions of people entering the lobbying business,” joking that it was a gift from Members of Congress to limit competition in the influence business.

Jaeger Exits Generics Group

Kathleen Jaeger said Tuesday that she will step down as president and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, which has recently faced internal turmoil with the departure of one of its key member companies, Teva.

Jaeger, who has been with GPhA for eight years, said that she offered to leave after Teva notified the organization on April 22 that it intended to resign from the organization.

Jaeger’s resignation will be effective June 30, although she will remain as an adviser to the generic drug association through the end of this year.

How Hollywood Does Financial Reform

Hollywood studios are continuing to pressure the Senate to include a ban on proposed movie futures in a financial regulatory reform bill. In a recent letter, the Motion Picture Association of America, National Association of Theatre Owners and other trade groups reiterated their claims that allowing traders to bet on box-office receipts would wreak havoc on the industry, which has been a rare bright spot during the down economy.

“This effort to create a synthetic derivative will serve the interest of no one other than the two exchanges who would reap transaction fees and those who are ‘inside’ with highly technical information, not the public interest,” the letter states.

The letter was sent to all Senate offices.

K Street Moves

• Linda Lipsen is the new CEO of the American Association for Justice, the trial lawyers lobby announced this week.

A longtime executive at the organization, Lipsen replaces interim CEO Tom Henderson. In an interview, she said the group’s mission will be more aggressive under her tenure.

“Over the past 17 years, in which I’ve been part of this organization, we’ve really been more on defense,” she said. “As we go into this next decade of accountability, I think rather than just being on defense, we’ll be promoting the justice system and telling the story of a system that isn’t rigged.”

• Peter Robertson, a lawyer at Crowell & Moring, has been hired as the newest lobbyist at the coalition America’s Natural Gas Alliance. He was a top aide at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration and worked as a House staffer for seven years.

Anna Palmer and Bennett Roth contributed to this report.

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