K Street Files: Half-Price Lobby Coupon a Bit Foolish

Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:02pm

Why pay $50,000 a month for “high-level” lobbying services from Quinn Gillespie & Associates when you can score a half-priced deal through Groupon?

Staffers at QGA received a midday email from their boss, Jack Quinn, on Friday trying to get to the bottom of a “Groupon” coupon that appeared to be offering the shop’s services for 50 percent off. “Team: What the hell? Who authorized this? This is a huge problem for which I will need some scalps,” Quinn emailed his colleagues.

Part of Quinn’s email was a Groupon attachment along with a curt message from the corporate top dog, Sir Martin Sorrell, chairman of WPP: “Hey jack – what’s this? Please see attached. -martin.”

“If you have a really big tax problem — like an overzealous committee chairman threatening the international tax competition that helps keep your Fortune 100 business competitive in a foreign marketplace — you’re going to need some big guns,” the QGA Groupon stated.

A couple of people at the firm, including a senior lobbyist, demanded some answers. But most of the shop’s employees got the joke.

It was, after all, sent on April Fools’ Day.

“I had to look at it twice to make sure it was a joke,” said Matt Dornic, the shop’s director of communications.

But the prankster’s methods have proved elusive. Quinn couldn’t be reached for comment by deadline.

Reeling in Liquid Gold

Sens.-turned-lobbyists John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) have apparently been drilling for new business. The duo’s lobby shop — the Breaux Lott Leadership Group, which Patton Boggs acquired last year — recently signed Houston’s Cheniere Energy Inc. as a client.

They are working on “issues related to the export of liquefied natural gas,” according to a lobbying report recently filed with Congress.

Even though Breaux Lott has become part of Patton Boggs, the client registered under Breaux Lott. An attorney at Patton Boggs said some of the clients still register under that brand, but all clients are run through the same conflict-of-interest checks.

In addition to Breaux and Lott, Patton Boggs partner Philip Bangert also is registered to work for the client. Bangert focuses on offshore energy activities and water resource issues, among other areas.

Revolving Door

Lobby and public affairs shop Venn Strategies has recruited Joon Suh, former legislative assistant to ex-Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), as its new senior associate responsible for tax and economic policy.

In addition to his tenure on the Hill, Suh previously was a research director at Anzalone Liszt Research, a polling firm whose clients have included President Barack Obama as well as numerous Members of Congress and progressive groups.

“As the tax and budget landscape gets more intense and our clients’ needs in this area grow, Joon’s superlative policy skills will be a tremendous asset to our expanding advocacy practice,” Stephanie Silverman, Venn’s CEO, said in an email.

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