With Daniel Lippman
K STREET HEAVYWEIGHTS LOBBYING FOR STEEL DEAL: U.S. Steel and Nippon Steel have brought on two of K Street’s top lobbying firms for help selling the industry giants’ proposed deal. U.S. Steel has added K&L Gates to its lobbying team after last month’s revelation of the iconic American company’s plans to sell itself to its Japanese rival sparked a bipartisan populist uproar and a pledge by President Joe Biden to closely scrutinize the deal.
— Tim Peckinpaugh will work on the account along with Andrew Tabler, a former Pentagon liaison to the Hill, according to disclosures filed over the weekend.
— Nippon Steel, meanwhile, retained a powerhouse team of nearly a dozen lobbyists from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld — including two former members of Congress — to work on the $14.9 billion deal. The team includes former Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Filemon Vela (D-Texas). Former Mitch McConnell aides Hunter Bates and Brendan Dunn are on the account too, with former Chuck Schumer aide Reggie Babin; Brian Pomper, Scott Parven, Geoff Verhoff, Virgil Miller, Joseph Fawkner and Roger Murry. Akin Gump already has major Japanese clients including the Japanese government and Japanese business group Keidanren.
— CEO consulting giant Teneo is also working to help sell the steel deal. As PI wrote last month, U.S. Steel had a smaller lobbying footprint than some of its top industry competitors, with just two outside firms on retainer — Crossroads Strategies and Mayer Brown — while Nippon Steel had no registered lobbyists in D.C. prior to hiring Akin Gump, a signal of how seriously both companies are taking the outcry in Washington.
ANOTHER RETROACTIVE BURISMA REGISTRATION: “A prestigious law firm has belatedly registered as a foreign agent of a Ukrainian energy company linked to Hunter Biden,” our Ben Schreckinger reports, the second firm to register for work done on behalf of Burisma years after the fact, and after the company became central to two presidential impeachment attempts.
— “The law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore said in an emailed statement that Thursday’s retroactive filing came after discussions with the Justice Department regarding the scope of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”
— “A partner at Cravath, John Buretta, met with three Obama administration officials and sent a letter to a fourth in 2016 as part of his work on behalf of Burisma and its owner Mykola Zlochevsky related to potential U.S. and Ukrainian investigations, according to the filing. At the time, the company and its owner faced scrutiny from officials in the U.S., U.K. and Ukraine over possible corruption.”
Happy Monday, and welcome to PI, where your host is soaking in the last day of UGA’s two-year reign as national champions. Hit us with your best influence tips: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.
IF YOU MISSED IT FRIDAY: “Wayne LaPierre, the embattled longtime leader of the National Rifle Association, is resigning from the nation’s largest gun-rights group on the eve of a civil trial in which the New York attorney general is seeking his ouster, as well as financial penalties, for years of alleged corruption at the nonprofit organization,” per The Wall Street Journal’s Mark Maremont and Jacob Gershman.
— “The NRA said LaPierre, 74 years old, cited health as the reason for his decision to step down and said the resignation would be effective Jan. 31. LaPierre has run the NRA since 1991 and helped turn it into an unflinching force for the expansion of Second Amendment rights, with the ability to mobilize its millions of members against any gun restrictions.”
— “Under his leadership, the NRA became a powerful lobbying group, with its endorsements sought by many elected officials, particularly in the Republican Party. A surge in gun-related advertising by the NRA in 2016 is widely credited with aiding the election of Donald Trump as president that year, though the group has faced financial woes in the years since.”
— A civil trial kicked off today in New York accusing the NRA, LaPierre and several of his associates of using the nonprofit’s funds as a piggy bank, and in the midst of those corruption allegations, “the NRA’s revenue has plunged, its membership is down, and its influence has waned. Revenue in 2022 of $211 million was down 40% from 2018, while membership dues declined by more than half in that period and legal fees skyrocketed.”
FIRST IN PI — CARPER CHIEF HEADS TO TIBER CREEK: Jan Beukelman is leaving the Hill after more than a decade to join Tiber Creek Group. Beukelman is a longtime aide to retiring Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), most recently serving as the Senate Environment and Public Works chair’s chief of staff. Beukelman did a short stint at the beginning of the Biden administration as a USTR liaison to the Hill and before that worked for former Reps. Jim Matheson and Dennis Moore.
FACING HEAT FROM THE RIGHT, ELITE UNIVERSITIES LOOK LEFT: “Some of the nation’s top universities are scrambling to hire heavyweight communications firms as their campuses become consumed by cultural and political proxy fights stemming from the Israel-Hamas war,” our Hailey Fuchs, Daniel Lippman and Michael Stratford report.
— “While much of the pressure being applied to universities is coming from conservatives, the schools themselves have turned to Democratic-allied firms for help. New York University, where in October the law school’s student bar association president quickly blamed Israel for the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, enlisted veteran Democratic consulting firm SKDK — whose clients have included President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — to help with the university’s internal and external responses around the war and related issues.”
— SKDK is also one of the firms helping pro-Israel advocacy groups with a new rapid response operation to push back on what the groups see as misinformation about the war.
— “The Cooper Union, the New York City school where Jewish students huddled in a library during a pro-Palestinian protest in October, also brought in SKDK to help it navigate fallout from that incident.”
— “Harvard University has turned to another Democratic firm, Precision, to help it handle fallout from turmoil over pro-Palestinian protests on campus in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks,” while “Columbia University has leaned on the consulting giant FGS Global, with which it has had a working relationship going back several years, according to a Columbia spokesperson.”
— “The University of California reached out to a firm run by a prominent Democratic operative for counsel on its own handling of the unfolding cultural battles, according to the Democratic operative who was granted anonymity to discuss private conversations,” but the firm is not currently working for the school.
K STREET FUNDRAISES FOR ALSOBROOKS: Paramount’s top lobbyist DeDe Lea and her husband Dallas opened up their home for a fundraising brunch on Sunday for Maryland Democratic Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks that attracted top state officials, including Gov. Wes Moore and first lady Dawn Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller.
— The host committee for the fundraiser for the Prince George’s county executive included Invariant’s Shari Yost Gold and Maia Hunt Estes, Jason Gold, formerly of Resolute Public Affairs, Izzy Klein of Klein/Johnson Group, Alex Michael of LionTree and Courtney Snowden of Blueprint Strategy Group.
— Also spotted at the brunch, which hauled in more than $75,000, according to an attendee, were Moore adviser Alexis Covey-Brandt, Heather Podesta, Nicole Venable and Amanda Bailey of Invariant, Susan Ness of the Atlantic Council, Keenan Austin Reed of Alpine Group, Jessica Mackler of EMILYs List, Adam Chase of Cooley, Tim Hannegan of Hannegan Landau Poersch & Rosenbaum Advocacy and Alfred Liggins of Urban One.
END OF AN ERA: “In previous presidential election years, large gatherings focused on Israel were a reliable campaign stop for major candidates. That won’t be the case for Democrats this year,” Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
— “The progressive Israel advocacy organization J Street announced last week that it is postponing its planned April convention to 2025, citing ‘the state of the ongoing conflict’ between Israel and Hamas.”
— “The move comes after the American Israel Public Affairs Committee scrapped its annual policy conference in 2021, first citing pandemic risks and then sticking with the move after the group made a major policy shift toward fundraising and away from grassroots advocacy.”
WELL, ACTUALLY: The Consumer Bankers Association launched a new website today making the argument that government intervention isn’t necessary for improving banks’ overdraft services, ahead of an expected new rule from the CFPB cracking down on overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees.
— OverdraftFacts.com argues that “without the intervention of Washington, banks have taken proactive steps to benefit consumers while protecting those who value overdraft services, by providing real-time payment updates, grace periods, payment control, low-balance alerts, and no-fee overdraft accounts.”
— Though the CFPB has yet to reveal any details about its impending overdraft rule — part of the Biden administration’s crusade against so-called junk fees — the CBA campaign, which claims a government “mandate” on overdraft fees could reduce access to overdraft services by introducing “additional, unnecessary red tape,” is the latest prebuttal from the banking industry.
— A trio of banking trade groups wrote to CFPB Director Rohit Chopra last week, warning that the agency appears to be running afoul of administrative requirements to formally examine the impact of its forthcoming regulations on small businesses, potentially laying the groundwork for a legal challenge to the rules.
— Husch Blackwell Strategies has named Andy Blunt its CEO. Blunt is a founding partner at the firm and its executive chair, and formerly served as COO. Co-founder Gregg Hartley will become COO.
— Ruth Whittaker has been promoted to director of civic innovation policy at the Chamber of Progress. She joined the organization in 2022 and most recently served as policy manager. She previously worked in DOJ’s antitrust division.
— Sam Runyon has joined Exxon Mobil’s federal government relations team as policy communications director. She spent the past nine years with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), most recently serving as his communications director.
— Jon Sawyer, the CEO of the Pulitzer Center, is stepping down from the role but will stay on as a senior adviser.
— Anna Chauvet has rejoined Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner as a partner and leader of the firm’s copyright practice. She most recently served as vice president of public policy at the National Association of Broadcasters and before that served as associate general counsel at the U.S. Copyright Office.
— Anna Breedlove is now an associate director at Feldman Strategies. She previously was comms director for the Kentucky Democratic Party.
— Patrick Brady has joined the American Council of Engineering Companies as director of workforce development and public visibility. He previously worked on labor and workforce policy at Amazon and is a Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Society for Human Resource Management alum. ACEC has also promoted Chris Grindler to senior director of marketing, Andrea Keeney to executive editor and Allison Schneider to senior director of communications.
— Dan Dukes has launched his own government affairs firm, trACTION Strategic. He previously was a longtime lobbyist in iHeartMedia’s government affairs office.
— Earl Adams Jr. has rejoined Hogan Lovells as a partner in the transportation practice. He previously was deputy administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at the Department of Transportation.
— Frank Avery will rejoin the Business-Higher Education Forum as managing director of partnerships. He currently is on the management team for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Good Jobs Challenge team.
— Chloe Grainger is now director of policy and advocacy at the National NeighborWorks Association. She previously was senior legislative assistant for Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.).
— Laura Holmberg is now senior director of accounts at Prologue. She previously led marketing and industry comms for the U.S. Travel Association.
— Nikki Goldschein is joining the Michigan Democratic Party’s leadership team as senior adviser. She most recently was political director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
— National Public Affairs has added Alexis Haridopolos and Lexie Weinkopff as account managers. Haridopolos most recently was an associate with the Prosper Group. Weinkopff most recently was a legislative aide with the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus.
— Marc Ross is joining the Center for AI Policy as communications director. He currently is chief comms strategist at Caracal and is a U.S.-China Business Council, American Chemistry Council and National Mining Association alum.
— Melissa Wade, senior director of government relations at Aurora Innovation, will serve as the new chair of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association board of directors, per Morning Transportation.
Fischer-Rounds Victory Committee (Sens. Deb Fischer, Mike Rounds, Nebraska Sandhills PAC, The Peter Norbeck Leadership PAC)
Meaningful Action Towards Tomorrow PAC – MATT PAC (Leadership PAC: Matt Gunderson)
NEEL-SCHAFFER, INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (NEEL-SCHAFFER PAC) (PAC)
New Solutions for Silicon Valley (Super PAC)
THE ROAR PAC (Super PAC)
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Nippon Steel Corporation
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: The Immigration Hub, LLC
Boundary Stone Partners: Aether
Covington & Burling LLP: Xona Space Systems, Inc.
Forbes-Tate: Ginkgo Bioworks
Husch Blackwell Strategies: Alliance For Business Partnership
Husch Blackwell Strategies: Jph Law LLP (On Behalf Of Blue Diamond Growers)
K&L Gates, LLP: United States Steel Corporation
Mcdermott+Consulting LLC: Urgent Care Association
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Bmw Automotive Holdings LLC
Bluebird Strategies: Mindmaze Inc.
Bluebird Strategies: Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.
Covington & Burling LLP: Beigene USa, Inc.
Covington & Burling LLP: Chanel, Inc.
Covington & Burling LLP: Horizon Therapeutics USa, Inc. (Formerly Horizon Pharma USa, Inc.)
Covington & Burling LLP: Valneva USa, Inc.
Critical Mass Strategies, LLC: American Association For Justice
Deutsche Organization Incorporated: Deutsche Enterprises Group Inc.
Deutsche Organization Incorporated: Deutsche International Investment Group Inc.
Deutsche Organization Incorporated: Deutsche Organization Incorporated
Edington, Peel & Associates, Inc.: Helen Keller International
Edington, Peel & Associates, Inc.: Internews
Edington, Peel & Associates, Inc.: Kiwanis International
Edington, Peel & Associates, Inc.: Unicef USa (Formerly Known As U.S. Fund For Unicef)
Government Relations Group, LLC: Healo Foods
Government Relations Group, LLC: Seavive, LLC
Holland & Knight LLP: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Holland & Knight LLP: Parsons Corporation
Holland & Knight LLP: Roanoke College
Jill Warren, P.C.: Icon Aircraft, Inc.
Long Law Firm: Baton Rouge General Hospital
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Aln Entertainment Group Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Bmw Automotive Holdings LLC
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Cybertronics Global Technology Holdings LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Deutsche Exotic Rental Cars Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Deutsche Global Holdings Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Deutsche Rental Car Group Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Eagle Eye Satellite And Cell Tower Tower Communications Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Ean Fleet Rental And Leasing Services Group Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Encom Global Holdings Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: First Technology Solutions LLC
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Flex Money Payment Services LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Htz Global Holdings Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Intercontinental Association Of Lgbt Business Owners Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Intercontinental Bank Of Commerce LLC
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: International Car Rental And Leasing Association LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: International Finance Corporation
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Landmark Properties Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Mercedes-Benz Automotive Group LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Mystic Leaf Cannabis Products LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Regent Properties LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Scgi Credit Union LLC
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Seven Seas Financial Guarantor Services LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Seven Seas Global Automotive Group LLC.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Seven Seas Global Foundation Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Seven Seas Global Holdings Group Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Swiss Centurion Financial Guarantor Services LLC
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Swiss Centurion Global Underwriting Group Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Swiss Centurion Investment Group Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Swiss Centurion Private Lending Services Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Swiss Centurion Private Lending Services Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Swiss Centurion Underwriting Services Inc.
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Vivendi International Group Incorporated
Phoenix Global Organization Incorporated: Wavmafia Records Inc.
Republic Consulting, LLC: Workhorse