With Daniel Lippman
‘IT’S NOT SURPRISING TO SEE A LOT OF BRINKSMANSHIP’: Negotiations may be sputtering, but some lobbyists are still optimistic that Congress will strike a deal on a massive coronavirus relief package in the coming weeks. James Wickett, a partner at Hogan Lovells who co-authored a memo the lobbying firm sent to clients on Tuesday making the case there’s “a high likelihood that Congress will reach an agreement within the next two weeks,” said he stands by that assessment. “It’s not surprising to see a lot of brinksmanship,” he told PI this morning. “That’s to be expected.”
— Still, Wickett said he expects many Senate Republicans to oppose any deal that’s struck, putting more of the onus on Democrats to back the legislation. And he acknowledged it could take longer to finalize a deal than he and his colleagues predicted in the memo a few days ago. “Maybe it will take more than another week,” he said. “It’s not inconceivable that we could extend into September.”
— Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer forecast in a memo to clients last week that a bill would land “on the President’s desk sometime between August 7 and August 14” — a timeline that would now require Herculean efforts to meet. “We’re still more optimistic than not that a deal gets done,” Kevin O’Neill, an Arnold & Porter lobbyist who co-wrote the memo with former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and others at the firm, said in an interview, though he added that “obviously the chances have gone down in the last week.” He’ll be much more pessimistic if there’s no agreement a week from now. “It’s harder to see how there will be a breakthrough later in August,” he said.
Good afternoon, and welcome to PI. This newsletter is too extreme for Joe Biden and way too extreme for central New York. Send me your best lobbying tips: [email protected]. You can also follow me on Twitter: @theodoricmeyer.
NEW BUSINESS: Oracle has added Matt Sandgren of Innovative Policy to its roster of outside lobbyists. Sandgren, a former chief of staff to former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), will lobby on procurement, technology and intellectual property issues, according to a disclosure filing. Oracle spent more than $3.7 million on Washington lobbying in the first half of the year and retains more than a dozen other lobbying firms. And Warren Payne of Mayer Brown has registered to lobby for ONEOK, the Oklahoma natural gas company, and the American arm of the Luxembourg-based steel giant ArcelorMittal on “Tax legislation related to the monetization of Net Operating Losses,” according to disclosure filings.
TIKTOK THREATENS TO SUE OVER TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER: “TikTok threatened Friday to take legal action against an executive order issued by President Donald Trump that would bar the parent company of the Chinese social media app from doing business with U.S. companies,” POLITICO’s Martin Matishak reports. “The order — issued by the president late Thursday night — prohibits Americans and U.S. companies from conducting transactions with Beijing-based internet giant ByteDance.”
— “A separate executive order with the same conditions was issued to WeChat, another Chinese-owned app. … In a blog post, TikTok said it was ‘shocked’ by the order and claimed there had been ‘no due process or adherence to the law’ from White House. ‘We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly — if not by the Administration, then by the U.S. courts,’ the company said. Tencent, which owns WeChat, said it is “reviewing the executive order to get a full understanding.”
BIOFUELS TRADE GROUP CUTS BACK: Add the Renewable Fuels Association to the list of trade groups hit by the pandemic. The trade group “told Reuters it has cut outside consultants while also reducing advertising spending,” and its lobbying revenue dipped slightly in the second quarter, Reuters’ Stephanie Kelly reports. “‘Our resources are more limited today because of COVID-19 and the impact on the industry,’ RFA President Geoff Cooper told Reuters. Around 150 biofuel plants of the nation’s approximately 200 facilities either idled or reduced production after the health crisis struck and drastically reduced global demand for fuel.”
MEANWHILE, IN FLORIDA: POLITICO Florida’s Gary Fineout reports that “Marion Hammer, one of Tallahassee’s most well-known lobbyists, received payments from the National Rifle Association under contracts that were improperly handled, according to a civil lawsuit filed Thursday by New York Attorney General Letitia James. … The complaint describes payments made to ‘Board Member No. 5,’ a person identified as the executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida. State corporate records list the 81-year-old Hammer as executive director of the group. She has routinely identified herself with the organization when testifying on gun legislation at the state Capitol.”
— “The lawsuit alleges that Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s longtime CEO, negotiated consulting contracts in 2017 and 2018 with Hammer, who sits on the NRA board, that increased her annual pay from $150,000 to $168,000 and then to $220,000. … LaPierre did not receive approval from the NRA’s president or vice president before the contracts were executed, according to the lawsuit.”
— The Association for Accessible Medicines has hired Lisa Steelman as vice president for state government affairs. She was previously senior vice president for alliance development and government relations at the Association of Dental Support Organizations.
— The Credit Union National Association has hired Deshundra Jefferson as chief communications officer. She previously worked on Deval Patrick’s presidential campaign as traveling press secretary.
Pfluger Victory Fund (August Pfluger for Congress, Raptor PAC, NRCC)
Chinese Progressive Political Action IE PAC (Super PAC)
Defend the Lehigh Valley PAC (Super PAC)
Independents for Trump, Inc. (Super PAC)
La Bamba PAC (PAC)
Reclaim California (Hybrid PAC)
Vote His Ass Out (Hybrid PAC)
Alston & Bird LLP: OncoSec Medical Incorporated
Ballard Partners: The Mega Company
Bluepoint DC: GrayRobinson PA on behalf of Asian American Hotel Owners Association
Innovative Policy, PLLC: Oracle America, Inc.
Key Bridge Advisors LLC: Metallicus Inc.
Mayer Brown LLP: ArcelorMittal USA
Mayer Brown LLP: INEOS
Mayer Brown LLP: ONEOK, Inc.
Morrison Public Affairs Group: Law Office of Curtis Morrison
Six Stars LLC: TriPacer Strategic Consulting, LLC
Watkins & Eager PLLC: Mississippi Association of Affordable Housing Providers
Williams and Jensen, PLLC: Lithium Werks, Inc.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Cranemasters, Inc.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: R.J. Corman Railroad Group
Cannabis Trade Federation: Cannabis Trade Federation Action
Mr. Khalil Saliba: American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers