Ballard adds top Walsh aide

Second Amendment

With Daniel Lippman

FIRST IN PI — BALLARD ADDS TOP WALSH AIDE: Eugene O’Flaherty, most recently corporation counsel for the city of Boston and a top aide to now-Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, has joined Ballard Partners as a partner as the firm looks to expand its congressional practice and ties to the new administration, giving the Florida-based firm run by a former fundraiser to President Donald Trump increased clout with the powerful Massachusetts delegation and the Biden administration’s newest Cabinet member.

— Ballard, which became one of the most powerful firms on K Street under Trump, has rapidly staffed up with more Democrats this year, bringing on Courtney Whitney, a top Democratic fundraiser who was a consultant for the pro-Biden super PAC Priorities USA, as a partner, moving two more Democratic lobbyists into its D.C. office, and hiring Rep. Al Lawson’s former chief of staff. Former Florida Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat, and Jamie Rubin, who worked with President Joe Biden in the Senate, also work at Ballard.

— With Biden’s “statutory Cabinet” now in place, former aides to the president’s new advisers are being snapped up on K Street, as AxiosLachlan Markay points out, like HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s former chief of staff, who will lobby for Eli Lilly, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge’s former legislative director, who will lobby for the Managed Funds Association, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s former legislative aide, who will lobby for Hilcorp Energy, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s former chief of staff, who just signed two new ag clients.

ALCOHOL INDUSTRY PUSHES FOR PERMANENT TARIFF REMOVAL: Four dozen trade associations representing various sectors of the hospitality industry have launched a new coalition aimed at securing the permanent removal of EU, UK and U.S. tariffs on alcohol products stemming from a long simmering trade dispute involving the World Trade Organization, Boeing and Airbus, and steel and aluminum levies imposed by the Trump administration.

— The Toasts Not Tariffs Coalition is made up of interest groups from every stage of the alcohol industry from production to distribution to retail, including the Distilled Spirits Council, Wine Institute, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, American Beverage Licensees, National Retail Federation, American Craft Spirits Association, American Distilled Spirits Alliance, National Council Of Chain Restaurants, National Restaurant Association, and National Association Of Beverage Importers.

— It wants European tariffs of 25 percent on American rum, brandy and vodka, and U.S. tariffs on European spirits and liqueurs — which the Biden administration and European officials reached a deal to temporarily suspend earlier this month — to be permanently removed, and ditto for a 25 percent EU and UK tariff on American whiskeys, which is set to double this summer. The coalition applauded the temporary detente as “significant steps in the right direction” but argued that the lack of permanent tariff relief could hamper the industry’s recovery from the pandemic.

Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Send K Street tips and gossip: [email protected]. And follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

A LOOK AT BIG TECH’S BIG MONEY: Ahead of tomorrow’s House Energy and Commerce hearing on social media disinformation featuring Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, watchdog group Public Citizen is out with an update to its 2019 report of the influence of Big Tech in Washington. Some of the report’s key findings include that the industry spent $124 million on lobbying and campaign contributions during the 2020 cycle — Facebook and Amazon topped all other corporations in lobbying spending last year, while the four big tech companies expanded their lobbying footprint by 40 lobbyists since 2018. Read the full report here.

GOP LOOKING TO COUNTER DEM DARK MONEY MACHINE: “Liberals spent years building a massive dark-money machine. Now conservatives are trying to match them,” POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt reports. “Major donors are convening at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort next month for a two-day gathering to talk about what went wrong in 2020 — and to build a big-dollar network to take back power,” a summit that’s “being sponsored by the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization led by Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).”

FLY-IN SZN: TechNet is in the midst of its annual fly-in this week, meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Young Kim (R-Calif.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.). Tech execs met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg this morning, according to the group, where they discussed autonomous vehicles and broadband and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Career Education Colleges and Universities also kicked off its annual fly-in on Tuesday, starting with keynote speeches from Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) and Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and virtual meetings today and tomorrow with 37 House and Senate offices and Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Andrew Garbarino(R-N.Y.), Burgess Owens (R-Utah), Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

HOW OUTSIDE GROUPS ARE INFLUENCING STATE VOTING RESTRICTION BILLS: “As Republican legislatures across the country seek to usher in a raft of new restrictions on voting, they are being prodded by an array of party leaders and outside groups” like the Heritage Foundation “working to establish a set of guiding principles to the efforts to claw back access to voting,” per The New York TimesNick Corasaniti and Reid Epstein.

— “Party leaders and their conservative allies are planning to export successful statutory language from one state to others” but are also “drafting what they describe as ‘best practices’ principles for completely new legislation, with the impetus often coming from outside groups like the Heritage Foundation.” The dynamic underscores how the GOP “views its path to regaining a foothold in Washington not solely through animated opposition” to Biden’s policies “but rather through an intense focus on re-engineering the voting system in states where it holds control.”

CAN GUN CONTROL MOVE WITH A WEAKENED NRA?: “While plenty has changed in Washington, new federal gun restrictions remain some of the toughest to enact. And despite calls from President Joe Biden on Tuesday to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as implement new background checks, the issue is unlikely to go anywhere,” The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich and Roger Sollenberger report. “For more than a decade, Democrats largely blamed that intransigence on the National Rifle Association, a Second Amendment rights organization with deep pockets and a long memory. But the NRA is now hardly the empty shell of its former self. Over the last few years, the NRA has lost massive amounts of money amid internal corruption scandals and a barrage of lawsuits that have shaken the faith of even its most devout members.”

Nick Simpson is joining Swedish bank and online payment company Klarna as head of policy and public affairs, their first hire in Washington. Simpson is currently senior vice president of public affairs at the Consumer Bankers Association.

Marta McLellan Ross is joining NPR as vice president for government and external affairs. She is currently director of legislative affairs at the Defense Logistics Agency.

American Fintech Council, a newly formed lobbying group representing fintech companies, has named Garry Reeder as its chief executive. He most recently worked at the Financial Health Network and is a former CFPB chief of staff and Treasury alum.

Kylin McCardle is now senior manager for financial services public policy at Amazon Web Services. She most recently was director for consumer regulatory policy and affairs at Citi and is also a House Financial Services and Richard Lugar alum.

Daniel Sepulveda has joined Wiley as its new vice president of government partnerships and public policy. He was previously deputy assistant secretary of State and U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy during the Obama administration.

Brianna Ehley is joining Finsbury Glover Hering as a director on their health comms team. She previously was a health care reporter at POLITICO.

Joby Aviation has appointed Dan Elwell to its advisory board. He most recently served as deputy and acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.


Arthritis Knee Pain Centers, LLC Osteoarthritis Relief PAC (PAC)
Civic Data PAC (PAC)
IL Senate Republican Nominee Fund 2022 (PAC)
No Surrender NY (Super PAC)
Senate Defense Force (Super PAC)

Boundary Stone Partners: Aclima, Inc.
Capitol Hill Policy Group LLC: T-Mobile USA, Inc.
Holland & Knight LLP: Fort Valley State University
Keller Partners & Company: Rosalynn Carter Institute For Caregivers

American Consolidated Natural Resources, Inc.: American Consolidated Natural Resources, Inc.

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