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K Street Files: Bundlers Give to Both Parties

Candidates and party committees continue to rely on an elite network of lobbyists to bundle campaign contributions, according to recently filed Federal Election Commission reports.

Three K Streeters, for example, have gathered checks for the re-election efforts of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). They include Missouri native James H. Davidson, who chairs the public policy division of Polsinelli Shughart; Sean Kennedy, McCaskill’s former chief of staff and now senior vice president of global government affairs at Airlines for America; and Jeff Cohen of the Federation of American Hospitals.

“I’ve known her for more than 25 years,” Davidson said. “She was the prosecutor in my home town of Kansas City.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee relied on such K Street bundlers as Michael Herson, who heads American Defense International; Valente & Associates’ Mark Valente; Wilson Pipestem, managing partner of Ietan Consulting, and Aurene Martin, president of Spirit Rock Consulting, the FEC reports show.

Campaigns and committees are required to disclose those bundlers who are registered lobbyists.

Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, former Rep. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Cassidy & Associates’ Mark Cowan are among the bundlers to the Republican National Committee.

Loren Monroe of BGR Group is listed as a bundler for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reports its bundlers as Steve Elmendorf, founder of Elmendorf Ryan, former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), Heather Podesta of Heather Podesta + Partners and Podesta Group’s Tony Podesta, as well as the PACs of Akin Gump, AT&T and the National Association of Realtors.

“I think people realize this is a very important election,” Tony Podesta said. “People are paying a lot of attention. People are interested, and they are digging deep.”

Capitol Counsel partner David Jones is bundling for Massachusetts House candidate Joe Kennedy III, according to the campaign’s filing. And the campaign of Maine Independent Angus King reported that Liz Robbins Associates has bundled money for its Senate effort.

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won’t report his campaign bundlers, but he must disclose the few who are lobbyists. His benefactors downtown include Wayne Berman, who recently went in-house with the Blackstone Group; Abby Blunt, who heads U.S. government relations for Kraft Foods and is the wife of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); Mark Isakowitz of Fierce Isakowitz & Blalock and Van Dongen, among others. (Obama says he discloses all his bundlers, but his campaign does not take the cash of registered lobbyists.)

“The fundraising scene gets worse every year,” grumbled one bundler privately. “We are asked for money all day, every day.”

K Street Moves

SNR Denton has tapped health care lawyer Bruce Fried as head of its Washington, D.C., office. Fried is replacing Fred McClure, who has become executive director of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

McClure will remain with the firm as a senior counsel, according to a press release. “Bruce is not only one of the preeminent health care practitioners in the United States, he is also among the most outstanding Washington lawyers,” said the firm’s U.S. managing partner Mike McNamara in a statement. Fried’s clients include health plans, physician and hospital groups and pharmaceutical companies. He previously worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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