Zillow’s head of office jumps to Monument

Second Amendment

With help from Daniel Lippman

MONUMENT TAPS ZILLOW’S WINGERT: Ken Wingert is joining Monument Advocacy as a principal after five years as head of the D.C. office for real estate website Zillow. Wingert joined Zillow in 2018 to stand up the site’s lobbying operation. Before that, he spent more than 13 years as a lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors.

— At Monument, he’ll lead the firm’s financial services and real estate portfolio. And he won’t be going far — Monument was one of the first outside lobbying firms Zillow hired back in 2007, disclosure filings show, and still works for Zillow along with Mindset Advocacy.

— In an interview, Wingert said he’s eager to continue working with clients like Zillow that are at the intersection of tech and financial service and real estate. He added that after five years — including a pandemic whose impacts are still reverberating through the real estate market — “it was just time to do something different,” telling PI that he was attracted to the idea of consulting and already had a great relationship with Monument.

— As next year’s election approaches, Wingert told PI he expects to see Washington’s focus on affordability to remain a policy issue, even as “policymakers are approaching that from different ways,” like with the Biden administration’s crusade against junk fees — an initiative that Zillow has engaged with.

— “AI, and how that is going to affect how people get credit or get approved for a mortgage down the line,” will also be a major issue for the industry, he said, along with ESG and the ensuing backlash to those policies; competition and data privacy. “Congress is just now starting to look at some of those [issues]. And so I think there’s going to be an opportunity for education and really help clients go up and tell their stories as to how they fit into the larger ecosystem.”

Happy Monday and welcome to PI. Send K Street tips: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

NEW BUSINESS: Startup accelerator Y Combinator has hired its first lobbyists in nearly a decade, the latest signal that the Silicon Valley venture firm is stepping up its advocacy footprint in D.C. The Joseph Group’s Kevin Joseph, whose roster of clients includes fellow Big Tech critics Yelp and Beeper, began lobbying on immigration reform, tech competition policy, AI and capital formation for YC last month, according to a newly filed disclosure.

— The incubator (whose former president, Sam Altman, readers may have heard of) briefly retained lobbyists at Venture Politics in 2014 for work on the Obama administration’s proposed startup visa program. In October, it announced it had hired well-known Big Tech critic Luther Lowe away from Yelp to be YC’s first head of public policy.

THIS LOBBYING FIGHT HAS EVERYTHING: A brewing lobbying fight over the key technology that acts as the “eyes” of self-driving cars “is quickly becoming a new flashpoint in already fraught relations between the U.S. and China,” our Tanya Snyder reports.

— “The development of ‘lidar’ sensor technology has helped fueled the rise of driverless ‘robotaxis’ roaming cities like San Francisco and Phoenix. But as automakers prepare to deploy lidar-enabled features such as adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection in more consumer vehicles, the homegrown industry is mounting a wide-ranging lobbying offensive against a leading Chinese rival that’s stepping up its own PR game.”

— “The San Francisco-based lidar firm Ouster is appealing to Congress to stop the hemorrhaging by stoking fears that Chinese versions of the technology could be used to spy on Americans and deliver intelligence about sensitive U.S. infrastructure to Beijing.”

— “Ouster and its lobbyists have secured meetings with key lawmakers on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party and Biden administration officials, trying to raise alarm about potential threats. They’ve been urging blacklists or outright bans, as well as imposing tariffs on Chinese-made lidar sensors,” in a campaign “ripped out of the playbook that ultimately led Congress and regulators to ban another Chinese company — drone-maker DJI — from Defense Department procurements and other business.”

— “But Chinese manufacturer Hesai, which makes lidar offerings that are cheaper and more sophisticated than many U.S. companies, is fighting back, egged on by some U.S. auto interests whose vehicles already use its technology. … The lobbying campaign from U.S. interests — and complaints from their own U.S. customers — encouraged Hesai to hire its own high-priced team of lobbyists and PR reps,” the company’s CEO said.

SAME FIRM PREPPED COLLEGE PRESIDENTS FOR ANTISEMITISM HEARING: “At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, the leaders of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave carefully worded — and seemingly evasive — answers to the question of whether they would discipline students who called for the genocide of Jews.”

— “The intense criticism that followed led many to wonder: Who had prepared them for testimony? It turns out that one of America’s best known white-shoe law firms, WilmerHale, was intricately involved,” The New York Times Lauren Hirsch reports.

— “Two of the school presidents, Claudine Gay of Harvard and Elizabeth Magill of Penn, prepared separately for the congressional testimony with teams from WilmerHale, according to two people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because the preparation process is confidential. WilmerHale also had a meeting with M.I.T.’s president, Sally Kornbluth, one of the people said.”

— “On Saturday, Ms. Magill resigned as Penn’s president after the fallout from her congressional testimony became overwhelming.” WilmerHale, which is “best known in the legal industry for defending clients facing government investigations and enforcement,” also “has an extensive practice working with universities.”

— “Lawyers for WilmerHale sat in the front row at the hearing on Tuesday. They included Alyssa DaCunha, who leads the firm’s congressional investigations and crisis management practices, and Felicia Ellsworth, the vice chair of the firm’s litigation and controversy department,” both of whom “were involved in preparing the presidents of Harvard and Penn for the hearings, one person familiar with the process said.”

IF YOU MISSED IT OVER THE WEEKEND: “Members of the European Parliament, EU member countries represented by the Council, and experts from the European Commission have clinched a political deal on the Artificial Intelligence Act, the EU’s pioneering attempt at regulating the emerging technology,” our EU colleague Gian Volpicelli reports.

— “Following over 36 hours of negotiations over three days, representatives of the bloc’s three institutions have managed to reach an agreement on divisive topics such as predictive policing, facial recognition and the use of AI by law enforcement.”

ADVAMED LAUNCHES A NEW DIVISION: Medical device lobby, AdvaMed, is establishing a new medical imaging technology division, per Morning Pulse. Patrick Hope, former executive director of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance, will lead the division, AdvaMed said. MITA member companies will be under the AdvaMed umbrella. The move comes as interest in artificial intelligence booms in the sector and imaging technology often leans on AI.

MEANWHILE, IN THE EMPIRE STATE: “One of the United States’ largest online gambling operators tried to water down rules designed to help problem gamblers and protect young and vulnerable people,” The Guardian’s Callum Jones reports.

— “FanDuel lobbied for New York to rethink a proposed ban on gambling platforms from using certain words and phrases to attract people ‘who are or may be’ problem gamblers to their websites. The company, which is owned by the Dublin-based gambling giant Flutter Entertainment, also opposed a rule prohibiting sports-betting advertisements near college campuses. The state’s legal age for the activity is 21.”

— “Unredacted documents obtained through a freedom of information request, and the New York state register, detail FanDuel’s objections to proposed sports-betting advertising rules, and how the state’s gaming commission stood firm. Ultimately the rules came into effect in October.”

DEPT. OF ODD BEDFELLOWS: “The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association agree about very little. They are often on opposite sides in major cases, and they certainly have starkly different views about gun rights. But when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the N.R.A.’s free-speech challenge to what it said were a New York official’s efforts to blacklist it, one of its lawyers had a bold idea,” NYT’s Adam Liptak reports: “Why not ask the A.C.L.U. to represent it before the justices?’

— “‘The N.R.A. might be thought of as the 800-pound gorilla on the Second Amendment,’ said the lawyer, William A. Brewer III. ‘Clearly, the A.C.L.U. is the 800-pound gorilla on the First Amendment.’”

— “David Cole, the civil liberties group’s national legal director, said the request in one sense posed a hard question. ‘It’s never easy to defend those with whom you disagree,’ he said. ‘But the A.C.L.U. has long stood for the proposition that we may disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.’”

— “Mr. Cole’s group has been subject to occasional criticism that it has become less attentive to free-speech principles and more devoted to values rooted in equality in recent years. He rejected that critique, even as he acknowledged that the decision to represent the N.R.A. would not meet with universal praise.”

Gabriella Bucci joined AxAdvocacy as a vice president. She was most recently director of media affairs at the RNC.

— The American Clinical Laboratory Association hired Mary Lee Watts to serve as vice president of government affairs and policy and Elyse Oveson to serve as its chief of advocacy operations. Watts comes from the American Society for Microbiology and Oveson was previously at the Healthcare Association of New York State.

Neal Higgins is now a partner in Eversheds Sutherland’s data privacy, security and technology group. He previously was White House deputy national cyber director for national cybersecurity, and is a CIA alum.

Jonathan Eberle is now senior communications adviser for Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.). He most recently was communications director for FreedomWorks and is a Matt Rosendale and Andy Biggs alum.

Tasden Ingram has joined SMI as an associate. He most recently worked at defense and aerospace consulting firm ANSER, where he advised the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment’s Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization office.

Kathy King has joined the National Association of Corporate Directors as associate director of communications and brand. She previously founded her own comms shop and is a PwC alum.

Dentons Global Advisors-Albright Stonebridge Group has added former Ambassador Michael Žantovský and Sergiy Tsivkach as senior advisers in the firm’s Europe and Eurasia practice. Žantovský previously served as executive director of the Václav Havel Library, and was the Czech Republic’s ambassador to the U.S., Israel and the U.K. Tsivkach was most recently the CEO of UkraineInvest, the government of Ukraine’s investment promotion agency.

Peter Arduini, president and CEO of GE HealthCare, has been named chair of the AdvaMed board of directors.

— The Alpine Group has promoted Keenan Austin Reed to principal. She was previously an executive vice president at the firm.

Philip Reichert and Aidan Shank started today at the American Conservation Coalition as Southern regional director and Midwest regional director, respectively.

Common Sense Colorado 2024 (Sens. Sherrod Brown, Michael Bennet)

28th Amendment PAC (Super PAC)

Americans for Prosparody (PAC)

New Democrat Majority (Super PAC)

OPN Victory PAC (PAC)

Optiver Americas LLC PAC (Optiver PAC) (PAC)

Ring The Bell (Super PAC)

Transmission PAC (PAC)

Banner Public Affairs, LLC: American Business Water Coalition

Tusk Strategies, LLC: University Of Illinois

Mehlman Consulting, Inc.: Indeed, Inc.

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