K Street Files: Mehlman Vogel Gasses Up ‘Bus Force One’ for GOP Convention

Posted July 11, 2012 at 2:04pm

One K Street shop is taking to Tampa like rock stars, gassing up a luxury bus that it plans to use to ferry friends and clients to receptions during the Republican convention.

The moniker for the bus is Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Bus Force One. The firm’s Alex Vogel explained in an email that it’s a “40 person luxury Limo-Bus.”

He added: “Think of it as a secure air conditioned refreshment/command center on wheels (with a disco ball). The plan is to have a number of pre-determined stops around the convention perimeter during the evenings of Monday, August 27 and Tuesday, August 28. We will make a route of the major receptions, concerts and events as well as tweeting out (@MVC_GOP) updates/locations so that folks can jump on for drinks and some snacks as they move from event to event as the night goes on.”

Hail to the bus.

More Health Care

Just hours before the House on Wednesday took yet another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the law and lobby shop DLA Piper hosted a panel discussion on the issue since the Supreme Court upheld almost the whole thing.

The firm’s advisers, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and former Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), joined Dan Crippen, executive director of the National Governors Association; Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans; and Mark McClellan, a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

When it comes to the House’s repeal vote, Castle said debate on the matter — considered largely symbolic— lost his interest. After watching coverage of his former House colleagues wrangle over it Tuesday night, he promptly “switched to the [Major League Baseball All Star Game],” he reported.

More seriously, though, the former Member said that despite the Supreme Court decision, much uncertainty remains.

Crippen said he expects many states to opt into the law’s expansion of the Medicaid program but that he doubts it will be along party lines. Rather, governors will base their decisions on how increased coverage costs will affect their states’ fiscal situations. For now, he said, the main sentiment among governors is “confusion.” He added that there are “perils at every turn.”

Ignagni said the law poses some “real affordability issues” for consumers. And Daschle noted that Democrats from President Barack Obama on down “have a lot of work to do” on messaging in support of the law and its more popular measures, such as allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans up to age 26.

Castle and Daschle also offered their election predictions, agreeing that the Senate would likely be at 50-50 and saying the presidential race could go either way.

Forbes Tate Join Forces

Democratic lobbyists Jeff Forbes and Dan Tate are merging their shops into Forbes-Tate LLC.

“We are making this move not only because it made enormous sense from a business standpoint … but because Dan and I and our colleagues believed we were uniquely suited to join forces in a manner that will allow us to give current and future clients fuller and deeper reach into Congress, federal agencies and state government,” Forbes said in a press statement.

The new shop’s lobbyists hail from both firms and include Zachary Williams, a partner in the former Cauthen Forbes & Williams; Ryan Welch; George Cooper; Jay Driscoll; Elzabeth Green; and Rachel Miller, who was with Tate’s firm Capitol Solutions.

Although he is not listed on the new shop’s website listing its team, lobbyist Sonny Cauthen remains with the firm, according to Forbes-Tate.

The combined firm’s clients include Allergan USA, Amazon.com Inc., Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, UnitedHealth Group and Verizon among others.

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