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K Street Files: N.J. Gov. Christie Refuses to Pay Port Lobbyist Bills

American Continental Group has represented the Delaware River Port Authority since 2003 — which is practically forever in K Street years. So it must have come as quite a shock when the client stopped paying ACG in the middle of last year.

It turns out that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is refusing to pay the bill and has vetoed the DRPA’s request of $37,500 for the balance of the firm’s legislative services last year.

The payment would violate the port authority’s “recently-enacted procurement policy reforms” put in place at Christie’s behest, the governor wrote this month to DRPA chief John Matheussen. The port authority is jointly run by New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

American Continental Group’s David Urban said he understands the governor’s situation and his need to balance the state budget.

But “interestingly, the money that was vetoed does not go to balance the budget, I’m told,” Urban said. “The money owed … remains with the Delaware River Port Authority.”

A press official with the port authority did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Urban noted that the governor’s office has not taken issue with ACG’s work, just the contract process. “I can understand the governor’s concern, and I’m sure somehow, some way it will all get worked out amicably,” Urban said.

Over the years, the port authority has paid ACG $680,000, according to federal lobbying reports.

Former Member Chronicles

Former Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) is joining the lobbying shop Twenty-First Century Group, the firm announced Tuesday.

Boyd, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition while in Congress, will serve as a senior adviser offering strategic advice and planning to the firm’s clients.

“Having known and worked with Allen Boyd for over a decade, I am very enthusiastic about adding him to our team at Twenty-First Century Group,” said the firm’s founder, former Rep. Jack Fields (R-Texas). “His experience on the Appropriations and Budget committees will prove invaluable in accomplishing the goals of our clients.”

The Finer Things

Any new client is worth celebrating, but Polaris Government Relations has reason to bust open a bottle of Champagne for one customer in particular: LVMH Moet Hennessy — Louis Vuitton, whose brands include the famed Dom Pérignon.

LVMH also owns fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton, Thomas Pink, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs as well as De Beers Jewelry.

The firm’s Dan Gans, former chief of staff to then-Rep. Bob Riley (R-Ala.), and Bryan Cunningham, a one-time policy adviser to Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), are handling the account.

Polaris will provide “advice and counsel on matters related to Internet governance, intellectual property, alcohol distribution and counterfeit goods” to the company, according to a lobbying disclosure filed recently with the Secretary of the Senate.

Polaris isn’t the only shop in town to bring on new business.

Though not as luxurious as LVMH, Empire Consulting Group has scored a trio of household-name clients: American Airlines, Verizon and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The firm’s Mike McKay, a former senior adviser to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), is the lobbyist of record for the clients. He did not return a call seeking comment.

Patton Boggs’ Vicki Cram and Pamela Welsh filed a new registration for the City of Portland (Ore.), while a team at Clark & Weinstock disclosed new client Hyundai Motor Co.

Lobbying on the Net

The open internet advocacy group Public Knowledge has dubbed this Thursday “Internet Strikes Back Day,” as it seeks to rally public support to prevent lawmakers from rolling back net neutrality rules recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

The group is asking people to call lawmakers to oppose GOP-sponsored legislation that will be considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

Public Knowledge, which supports net neutrality rules that bar Internet providers from slowing down or blocking content, has set up a website that allows visitors to sign up for action alerts and to download an Internet Strikes Back badge for websites.

The net neutrality issue has pitted some telecommunications companies, including Verizon, against high-tech companies such as Google that provide web content.

Bennett Roth contributed to this report.

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