With David Beavers and Daniel Lippman
ECONOMIC PAIN COMES TO K STREET: The pandemic has hurt industries from restaurants to hotels to day care centers — and K Street hasn’t been spared. “The International Franchise Association, the U.S. Travel Association and the National Rifle Association have all laid off staffers since the pandemic hit,” POLITICO’s Daniel Lippman and I report. “Several law-and-lobbying firms have cut pay across the board and at least one well-connected Washington communications firm” — Precision Strategies — “has applied for a small business relief loan.”
— A recent American Society of Association Executives survey “found that 35 percent of trade groups estimated they would lose at least a quarter of their revenue because of canceled events and conferences. Even the massive U.S. Chamber of Commerce — which recently doled out millions in bonuses to executives and was feeling so flush in December that it seriously considered purchasing a Super Bowl ad — is slashing expenses.”
— “The cuts have hit trade groups even as many of their lobbyists have been busier than ever, hustling to secure a piece of the trillions of dollars in coronavirus aid for their members. Doug Pinkham, president of the Public Affairs Council, said the pandemic had been ‘financially devastating’ for many trade groups. ‘Many of them rely very heavily on events for revenue, and that has just dried up,’ he said.”
NEW BUSINESS: Instacart is adding some Democratic lobbying firepower. The startup has hired Subject Matter’s Steve Elmendorf, Barry LaSala and Cedric Grant — all former Democratic congressional staffers — to lobby on technology and issues “related to the Coronavirus and future stimulus legislation,” according to a disclosure filing. Instacart, which didn’t have any Washington lobbying firms six months ago, has brought on three other firms since December: Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, Harbinger Strategies and Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas.
— The startup Citizen has hired Heather Podesta and four other Invariant lobbyists to educate lawmakers on its contract tracing technology, according to a disclosure filing. And Rock Central — part of Dan Gilbert’s Detroit-based business empire, which is anchored by Quicken Loans — has hired the S-3 Group to lobby on “forbearance privacy issues” as part of the implementation of the $2.1 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Quicken Loans appears to be reorganizing some of its Washington lobbying under the Rock Central umbrella: Quicken Loans’ five in-house lobbyists deregistered this spring and reregistered as in-house lobbyists for Rock Central.
NURSING HOMES LOBBY FOR LIABILITY PROTECTIONS: At least 20 states have moved “to limit the legal exposure of the politically powerful nursing home industry, which risks huge losses if families of coronavirus victims successfully sue facilities hit by the pandemic,” POLITICO’s Maggie Severns and Rachel Roubein report. “Now, the industry is turning its energies to obtaining nationwide protections from Congress in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill. … In early April, nursing home giant Life Care Centers of America — the multi-state chain whose facility in Kirkland, Washington, was the nation’s first epicenter of coronavirus — hired” Bridge Public Affairs to lobby on issues related to the pandemic.
A VERY K STREET WEDDING: This newsletter typically leaves weddings and babies to Playbook, but we’ll make an exception for Arshi Siddiqui and former Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), who were married on Sunday. The wedding had been scheduled for April in Marrakech, Morocco, but the pandemic changed the couple’s plans.
— They were married by Talib Shareef, the president and imam of Washington’s Masjid Muhammad, on the terrace of their building at the Wharf. Siddiqui and Meek met when he was in Congress and she was an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, although they didn’t start dating until years later. She’s now a top lobbyist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, while he’s a lobbyist at King & Spalding.
FACEBOOK’S JOEL KAPLAN PUSHED BACK ON PROPOSED CIVILITY CHANGES: A Facebook presentation warned in 2018 that the company’s “algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” The Wall Street Journal‘s Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman report. The presentation was part of “an internal effort to understand how its platform shaped user behavior and how the company might address potential harms. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg had in public and private expressed concern about ‘sensationalism and polarization.'”
— “But in the end, Facebook’s interest was fleeting. Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior executives largely shelved the basic research, according to previously unreported internal documents and people familiar with the effort, and weakened or blocked efforts to apply its conclusions to Facebook products. Facebook policy chief Joel Kaplan, who played a central role in vetting proposed changes, argued at the time that efforts to make conversations on the platform more civil were ‘paternalistic,’ said people familiar with his comments.”
HOW WEALTHY HOSPITALS SECURED BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CORONAVIRUS AID: After President Donald Trump signed the $2.1 trillion coronavirus relief bill “in March, hospital industry lobbyists reached out to senior [Department of] Health and Human Services officials to discuss how the money would be distributed,” The New York Times’ Jesse Drucker, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Sarah Kliff report. “Representatives of the American Hospital Association, a lobbying group for the country’s largest hospitals, communicated with Alex M. Azar II, the department secretary, and Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary overseeing the funds, said Tom Nickels, a lobbyist for the group.”
— “Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit hospitals, said he, too, had frequent discussions with the agency. The department then devised formulas to quickly dispense tens of billions of dollars to thousands of hospitals — and those formulas favored large, wealthy institutions. … While Health and Human Services also created separate pots of funding for rural hospitals and those hit especially hard by the coronavirus, the department did not take into account each hospital’s existing financial resources.”
TEAMING UP: VH Strategies, a Washington firm that lobbies for clients such as the Healthcare Supply Chain Association and Hubbard Broadcasting, has struck a strategies partnership with Vulcan Consulting, which is based in Brussels.
IF YOU MISSED IT ON FRIDAY: “A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” ProPublica’s Yeganeh Torbati and Derek Willis report. “Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.”
— “The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said.”
— Brandon Neal and Preston Grisham have joined APCO Worldwide’s campaigns and advocacy team. Neal, who’s a senior director at the firm, previously advised Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. Grisham, who’s a director at the firm, was previously executive director of TechSC.
— Heidi Obermeyer is joining BSA | The Software Alliance as policy manager. She previously was communications and policy manager at CTIA — The Wireless Association.
Blueprint for Progress (Super PAC)
Common Sense Task Force (Super PAC)
Deliver Democracy (Hybrid PAC)
Experienced Leadership Matters PAC (Super PAC)
Alcalde & Fay: City of Coral Springs, FL
Bockorny Group, Inc.: MedAire, Inc.
Bockorny Group, Inc.: tru Shrimp Company
Capitol Counsel, LLC: American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy
Capitol Venture LLC: Aviation Technical Services, Inc.
Holland & Knight LLP: POSCO American Corporation
Innovative Policy, PLLC: The Navajo Nation Office of the Speaker and the 24th Navajo Nation Coucil [sic]
Invariant LLC: Citizen
J M Burkman & Associates: Stein Mart, Inc.
J M Burkman & Associates: T L Space Inc
J M Burkman & Associates: TraitWare Inc.
ML Strategies, LLC: Enzychem Lifesciences Corporation
Penn Hill Group: KIPP Foundation
R A Rapoza Associates Inc: Unidosus
S-3 Group: Rock Central
Spinnaker Government Relations fka C.H. Fisher LLC: Eugene O’Neill Theater Center
Squire Patton Boggs: OCLC
Subject Matter (fka Elmendorf Ryan): Instacart
Subject Matter (fka Elmendorf Ryan): Lindblad Expeditions
The Duberstein Group Inc.: Blucora, Inc.
The Duberstein Group Inc.: National Governors Association
The Law Office of Michael R. Klipper: Michael J. Bynum
The Washington Tax & Public Policy Group (formerly The Washington Tax Group): The Mosaic Company
Tonio Burgos & Associates, Inc.: Interflex Payments LLC (dba Ameriflex)
Foley & Lardner, LLP: Worldwide Innovations & Technologies, Inc.
Strategics Consulting, LLC: Rural Faith Development Community Development Corporation, Inc.
The Petrizzo Group, Inc.: Allena Pharmaceuticals