With Daniel Lippman
DEFI GROUP LOBBIES UP: An industry advocacy group looking to shape the debate in Washington surrounding decentralized finance, or DeFi, policies has hired four lobbying firms as it looks to gain a foothold in D.C., with lawmakers and regulators signaling growing concern about the technology. The DeFi Education Fund, which formed this summer as a grantmaking group, has retained teams from Goldstein Policy Solutions, Federal Hall Policy Advisors, Subject Matter and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to help educate lawmakers about DeFi, which aims to cut out intermediaries such as financial institutions, offering automated, autonomous trading and lending services with minimal human interaction. A PI analysis of lobbying disclosures shows only three entities are registered to lobby or have reported lobbying on decentralized finance issues specifically — all three of which have been disclosed only this fall.
— “For the next eight to 12 months, our focus is definitely going to be on the education aspect because our thesis is that you can’t go out and advocate for anything productively or effectively if the person you’re talking to has no idea what you’re saying,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, the group’s director of policy, told PI. Whitehouse-Levine said the group’s hires are, personnel-wise, big enough and with broad enough bipartisan reach to accomplish DeFi Education Fund’s goal of meeting with every congressional office by April of next year.
— DeFi is a subset of the digital asset sector that has vexed policymakers as it has continued to boom and prompted calls for regulation sooner rather than later. In August, the SEC rolled out its first-ever penalties against the operators of a DeFi platform for allegedly misleading investors. Late last month, SEC Commissioner Gary Gensler said at a finance summit that DeFi is “going to end poorly” without more protections for investors, weeks after a report issued by the International Monetary Fund said that the size of the DeFi market had grown from $15 billion at the end of 2020 to about $110 billion. Researchers also warned that many DeFi products lack adequate disclosures on the volatility of their returns and that DeFi has been the target of hackers.
— Whitehouse-Levine pointed to the lobbying brawl in August over reporting provisions for cryptocurrencies included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is now making its way to President Joe Biden’s desk, as evidence of the necessity for the education push.
— One of the group’s main takeaways from that fight was that there were “one or two members that knew really what the core of the issue was, and then everyone else was being asked to vote on something on faith,” which, Whitehouse-Levine added, “isn’t probably the ideal way for policymakers to be making decisions.” The group isn’t yet pushing for any specifics on the regulation front, given that they don’t know what U.S. financial regulators plan to propose.
Good afternoon and welcome to PI, where your host is digging in to the important matters on everyone’s minds, like whether those at Monument Advocacy are outing themselves as Swifties with this homage to red cup season. (Monument’s Stacey Hutchinson clarified in an email that the tweet was in fact a reference to red cup season and joked she wishes Taylor Swift would join Starbucks as a client — but more firms should take a stance on this!) Send lobbying tips and your plans for listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” this week: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.
RECONCILIATION BILL’S CLIMATE PROVISIONS PUT SOME BUSINESSES IN A BIND: “Business lobbyists are pushing to derail about $800 billion in new taxes that come with President Biden’s spending bill, but along with opposition from Democrats they are facing an added challenge: division within their own ranks,” The Wall Street Journal’s Brody Mullins and Emily Glazer report. “The largest Washington industry associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce oppose Mr. Biden’s roughly $2 trillion tax-and-spend package. But some major U.S. companies are on the sidelines, in part because they support other provisions in the bill to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars to combat climate change.”
— “Companies backing the climate measures include General Motors Co., Cummins Inc. and Carrier Global Corp. along with some Wall Street firms and Silicon Valley companies such as Amazon.com Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc., as Facebook recently rebranded itself. Cummins, which makes diesel and alternative-fuel engines and power equipment, said its support for federal spending on climate-change measures outweighs its opposition to the tax increases. … Other executives said that while they don’t support the tax increases, they won’t lobby against them so as not to jeopardize the chance that the climate-change measures are enacted. That has undercut what might otherwise be solid business opposition to Mr. Biden’s tax-and-spending plan.”
‘TIME HEALS ALL’: “Republican lawmakers appear more likely to take back Congress in 2022. And corporate America is taking notice,” POLITICO’s Hailey Fuchs reports. GOP lobbyists have seen renewed interest from their corporate clients in making inroads with Republicans on the Hill — an especially notable turn given the cascade of businesses who took steps to stop writing checks to Republicans in the wake of January’s insurrection.
— “‘After talking to several clients today, they’ll be a lot more aggressively Republican giving’ over the next six months, said Brian Ballard, a top GOP lobbyist with ties to the former Trump administration, in an interview on Wednesday. He added that things were finally looking up for Republican campaigns, in terms of donations from his firm’s corporate clients: ‘It’s much more bullish for Republicans than it was perhaps six months ago.’”
— “Interviews with about a half-dozen GOP-connected lobbyists reveal that the results of the off-year election bode well for the party’s fundraising from companies that had soured on giving after Jan. 6. Some corporations are moving to resume relationships with members from whom they had distanced themselves about a year ago. Several lobbyists said they knew of companies that planned to resume their giving in early 2022 or were in the midst of conversations over how to restart it. The implications of the results on Tuesday, namely that Republicans are likely to regain chairmanships of key committees with jurisdiction over their interests, provide some cover if they face any pushback, lobbyists said.”
INSIDE THE NRA’S DECISION TO TANK MANCHIN-TOOMEY: POLITICO Magazine is out this morning with an excerpt of Tim Mak’s “Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA” that retraces the moment the National Rifle Association embraced the culture wars, tanking the 2013 Manchin-Toomey background-check bill the organization’s lobbyists helped negotiate: “At 5:30 a.m. one morning in early 2013, soon after a gunman in Sandy Hook killed 26 people, National Rifle Association lobbyist Abra Belke was woken up by a phone call. She was shocked to hear a U.S. senator on the line angrily shouting, ‘Why would you do this?’”
— “The lawmaker was Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from a red state, saying she had just been put in an impossible situation by the NRA,” thanks to an ad targeting then-President Barack Obama’s daughters that infuriated both Democrats and Republicans on the Hill, and blindsided the NRA’s government relations staff.
— “The ad was another example of the tension between the NRA’s messaging strategists at Ackerman McQueen, and the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), the NRA’s lobbying arm. While the lobbyists were on the Hill trying to make deals, Ack-Mac and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre were cooking up this divisive advertisement. Good for the base, bad for legislation. The divide between the lobbyists’ relative pragmatism and the all-or-nothing strategy of the enthusiastic PR firm highlighted the tension between competing factions of the gun group. Ultimately, in the dark wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook, the NRA jettisoned the idea of compromising through the legislative process and chose to double down on gun rights as identity politics.”
K&L GATES ADDS DEM LEADERSHIP AIDE: Matthew Manning is joining K&L Gates as a senior associate. He most recently served as legislative director to Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), the House Democratic chief deputy whip. Manning, who the firm said will register to lobby, covered Panetta’s defense, intelligence, foreign affairs, homeland security and veterans affairs portfolios while on the Hill, and also advised Panetta on his Ways and Means portfolio.
— Kevin Avery has been promoted to be vice president for federal government affairs at ConocoPhillips. He most recently was manager for federal government affairs at the company.
— Kyle Plotkin is joining OnMessage Public Strategies, a new firm launched by OnMessage Inc. He most recently was chief of staff for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and is a Bobby Jindal alum.
— Merideth Potter has joined American Beverage as senior vice president of public affairs. She was most recently a senior vice president at GMMB.
— The progressive data firm TargetSmart hired Tanya Brown as chief revenue officer. She was most recently chief of staff at America Votes and is a DNC, SEIU and AARP alum.
— Western Magnesium Corporation has hired Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd to serve as executive vice president for communications and government affairs. She’s the former executive director of the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
— The Glen Echo Group announced a slate of new hires: Andrea O’Neal joins as a director and was previously at National Geographic Society and Burson Cohn & Wolfe; Joey Battley joins as an associate and was most recently public affairs specialist at MSB Analytics; and Katelin Murray joins as an associate.
— Steven Romano has been elected chair of the National Pharmaceutical Council’s board of directors. He’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer for Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
— Jesse Overton has joined Google as policy marketing manager. He previously was senior comms adviser in the NYC Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, and is a Heidi Heitkamp alum.
— Jacob Wood recently joined the board of the American Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association, He’s a Trump White House alum.
— Bobby Patrick will join the Advanced Medical Technology Association as vice president of state government and regional affairs, and Roxy Kozyckyj will join as director of state government and regional affairs. Most recently, Patrick served as the vice president of strategic growth and policy at the Medical Alley Association and Kozyckyj previously served as the director of state government affairs at the Healthcare Distribution Alliance.
— Marcus Robinson is now press secretary for Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). He most recently was communications coordinator at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
— Camilo Serna has joined FirstEnergy as vice president of rates and regulatory affairs. She most recently served as vice president of regulatory affairs for DTE Energy.
— Michael Tubman is joining Lucid Motors as director of federal affairs. He was most recently a foreign service officer at the State Department.
— Robert Tappan will become managing director at the International Biometrics + Identity Association. He’s currently president at The Tappan Group.
— John Ruckelshaus has joined the Indiana State Medical Association as vice president of government affairs. He is a former Indiana state senator.
Americ First Party, USA.ORG.,INC. (PAC)
Caroline Gray JL Super PAC (Super PAC)
Creating A Secure Economy PAC (Leadership PAC: Casey Wardynski)
Keep Electing New Talent PAC (Leadership PAC: Joseph Kent)
Lets Go Brandon PAC (Super PAC)
Restore Hope (Hybrid PAC)
Proton Therapy Consortium: Proton Therapy Consortium Fka National Association For Proton Therapy
Tai Ginsberg & Associates, LLC: Siemens Corporation
Velocity Government Relations, LLC: Umbra Lab, Inc.
Virtual Operations, LLC: Somalogic Operating Co., Inc.
Alcalde & Fay: City Of Virginia Beach
Croissance International Consulting: Augustin St Clou
Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP Obo Cumberland Community Improvement D
Sapphire Strategies, LLC: Morrissey Strategic Partners
Tradewins, LLC: E.S. Originals Inc.
Tradewins, LLC: Legrand North America
Tradewins, LLC: Nautilus Hyosung America, Inc.
Water Strategies, LLC: A&W Maintenance And Coatings, LLC
Water Strategies, LLC: North Dakota Water USers Association
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