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K Street Files: FreedomWorks Looking to Connect With Minorities

Conservative group set to launch 30-city tour to showcase how its policies could benefit black and Hispanic voters

FreedomWorks is launching what it has dubbed the “Black, White & Brown Tour” in an unabashed effort to build support among blacks and Hispanics in preparation for the 2014 congressional elections.

The conservative advocacy group — whose co-chairman, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, just resigned in exchange for an $8 million payout — plans to invest about $500,000 in the 30-city tour, which will begin in Washington, D.C., in early February. It’s an extension of a series of events the group hosted in the runup to the November elections that focused on how conservative economic policies could benefit African-Americans. But after Hispanics sided overwhelmingly with Democrats, FreedomWorks decided to broaden its focus.

“It’s not about changing your principles, but maybe the messenger matters,” said Matt Kibbe, CEO of FreedomWorks, which ran almost $20 million in advertisements through its affiliated super PAC during the 2012 cycle. “The tea party is literally repopulating the GOP with people off all different sizes and colors. … It’s not a cosmetic change. It is a substantive outreach.”

The talks — part policy seminars, part conversations about race relations — will feature Ana Puig, a Brazilian-born dual citizen who manages FreedomWorks’ activities in Pennsylvania, and Deneen Borelli, a former Democrat who now runs the organization’s outreach efforts.

“If I can change, so can others,” she said. “The black media all presents the same message, so there is an echo chamber in the black community.”

Speaker’s Aide Heads to Private Sector

Wexler Walker Public Policy Associates has recruited George Rogers, a senior policy adviser to Speaker John A. Boehner, as executive vice president and corporate secretary. He will start his new job Dec. 10.

“George has been a valuable and trusted adviser over the last six years,” the Ohio Republican said in a press release announcing the move. “He has provided excellent counsel to me and members of our leadership team on some of the most challenging issues before us, including financial services, technology, immigration and homeland security legislation.”

Wexler Walker chairman, former Rep. Bud Cramer, an Alabama Democrat, said the newly minted lobbyist would be an asset to the shop’s clients. “We are excited that George will be joining our firm,” he said.

All-Star Lobbyist

Uber-lobbyist Thomas Boggs Jr. of Patton Boggs was inducted into the Washington Business Hall of Fame this week.

Boggs, who has spent 46 years in public policy lobbying and law, is the marquee partner at the city’s biggest lobbying practice, according to annual Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue.

“It’s particularly gratifying to be inducted into the Washington Business Hall of Fame in our firm’s 50th anniversary year,” Boggs said.

K Street Moves

• The National Milk Producers Federation has tapped Jim Mulhern, a longtime lobbyist, as its chief operating officer starting Jan. 1. He will oversee the group’s government relations, communications and membership units.

“Jim’s deep knowledge of both the dairy industry and Capitol Hill, coupled with his demonstrated ability to get things done, will greatly benefit National Milk,” NMPF CEO Jerry Kozak said.

•Brad Schweer is signing on to CenturyLink as director of federal legislative affairs in its Washington office. Schweer previously served as legislative director for Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, who currently serves on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the country.

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