A tale of two firms

With David Beavers, Garrett Ross and Daniel Lippman

A TALE OF TWO FIRMS: “The indictment of Paul Manafort last year on charges that included breaking foreign-lobbying law thrust two prominent Washington lobbying firms into the spotlight,” POLITICO’s Theodoric Meyer reports. “One of them, the Podesta Group, collapsed within weeks of Manafort’s indictment. The other, Mercury, just had its best year ever, according to the firm. While neither firm has been charged with wrongdoing, top lobbyists at both firms have come under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller. Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, arranged the hiring of both firms to work on behalf of a nonprofit that was ostensibly independent but which prosecutors say was ‘under the ultimate direction’ of the Ukrainian president.”

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— “Tony Podesta responded by stepping down as chairman of his firm the same day the Manafort indictment came out. But former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.), a partner at Mercury whose signature is on the contract for the Ukraine work, has continued to lobby for clients foreign and domestic, though he’s representing fewer clients than he did a year ago and several big clients have left.” Full story.

Good afternoon, and welcome to PI. Today marks one year since Theo started writing PI, and nearly two weeks since Marianne joined the team. What are we getting right? What are we screwing up? What else should we be covering? Give us a holler: mlevine@politico.com and tmeyer@politico.com.

— You can also follow us on Twitter: @theodoricmeyer and @marianne_levine.

BOEING NAMES ART CAMERON AS VP FOR FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Art Cameron is now vice president for federal legislative affairs for Boeing’s government operations, the company announced today. He most recently was the company’s vice president of appropriations for government operations. Prior to joining Boeing in 2011, he was staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on commerce, justice and science.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT HELD UP CASINO AFTER MGM LOBBYING: “Two casino-owning American Indian tribes are accusing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of illegally blocking their plans to expand operations in Connecticut — a delay that stands to benefit politically connected gambling giant MGM Resorts International,” POLITICO’s Nick Juliano reports. “The Interior Department’s refusal to sign off on the tribes’ plans for a third Connecticut casino came after Zinke and other senior department officials held numerous meetings and phone calls with MGM lobbyists and the company’s Republican supporters in Congress, according to a POLITICO review of Zinke’s schedule, lobbying registrations and other documents. The documents don’t indicate whether they discussed the tribes’ casino project.” Full story.

WHO’S RAISING MONEY FOR MENENDEZ: The DOJ’s decision on Wednesday to drop its corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is a relief for the senator — as well as the lobbyists and other K Street types who are holding fundraisers for him in the coming months. Upcoming events include a fundraising breakfast on Feb. 8 hosted by Manny Ortiz of VantageKnight; an evening fundraiser on Feb. 13 hosted by Sam Brown of Amalgamated Bank, Ankit Desai of Tellurian, David Jones of Capitol Counsel and Jonathan Mantz of BGR Group; a breakfast on March 20 hosted by Paul Weiss of Prime Policy Group and Ivan Zapien of Hogan Lovells; an evening fundraiser on March 20 hosted by Michael Hutton and Danny O’Brien, who are both former Menendez chiefs of staff; and a fundraiser the following night hosted by Jeff Forbes of Forbes Tate Partners, according to a schedule obtained by PI. Menendez is holding his annual retreat in Miami the weekend of March 23, too.

MORE TAX FILINGS: We are still tracking who lobbied on tax reform, as final registrations trickle in. US Policy Strategies’ Mike Solon registered to lobby on international tax matters for GE, Oracle and Procter & Gamble in early December.

STATE OF THE UNION ANALYSIS CONTINUES: Lobbying shops continued to analyze Trump’s State of the Union address Wednesday. Trump’s remarks on trade were top of mind for many. In its analysis, Signal Group noted that “in a reversal of the overarching and lingering sentiment from the president’s more globally-focused Davos address, his trade comments were very much aligned with the America First mentality.” Prime Policy Group’s Rich Meade noted that there was “some relief about what the President did not say, especially in reference to specific trade agreements such as NAFTA and KORUS. President Trump only said he wants to fix trade deals and negotiate new ones, without mention of pulling out of these two trade agreements.”

TRUMP ENTERS 2018 WITH $22M ON HAND: “President Donald Trump raised $12.2 million for his reelection in the fourth quarter of 2017 and has $22 million in cash on hand, according to a new FEC report,” POLITICO’s Maggie Severns reports. “The $12.2 million haul, which includes fundraising for the president’s reelection committee and two joint fundraising committees, is slightly larger than the $11.6 million raised by the campaign during the previous three-month period.” Full story.

WHO DONATED TO PENCE’S LEADERSHIP PAC: Vice President Mike Pence’s political action committee received $1.26 million in donations in the second half of 2017, Fredreka Schouten, Christopher Schnaars and Maureen Groppe report in USA Today. “Roughly 30% of the money that went to the Great America Committee since July 1 came from political action committees, including PACs tied to big drug makers, such as Novo Nordisk, Merck, Eli Lilly, Sunovion Pharmaceutical and Johnson and Johnson. … Other corporate PACs supporting Pence include telecom giant AT&T and Nashville-based CoreCivic, which operates private prisons. The private-prison industry stands to make big gains with the Trump administration’s stepped-up immigration enforcement.” Full story.

THE BIZARRE AMERICAN LOBBYING WAR OVER TURKISH-RUN SCHOOLS: “A law firm hired by the government of Turkey is lobbying state officials across the U.S. about what it alleges is a suspicious network of American charter schools run by a dangerous Turkish opposition leader,” Liz Essley Whyte reports in POLITICO Magazine. “It’s the latest move in a curious propaganda war playing out in America’s state capitals between Turkey’s ruling party and a secretive religious movement that the Center for Public Integrity previously revealed has funded scores of international trips for state lawmakers from places such as Texas and Tennessee. Nonprofits associated with what is commonly called the Gulen movement — named for the elderly Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen — sponsored subsidized trips to Turkey for at least 151 state lawmakers, the Center for Public Integrity reported last year.”

“Turkey retained Amsterdam and Partners LLP, an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, D.C., that specializes in cross-border disputes and white-collar crimes, in 2015 as the Gulen movement was falling out of favor with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party. Following a failed coup attempt in July 2016, Turkish leaders sharpened their rhetoric, calling Gulen a terrorist and demanding the U.S. extradite him from the compound in Pennsylvania’s Poconos where he lives in exile.” Full story.


— Jeff Brabant joined the National Federation of Independent Business as manager of government relations. He was previously legislative director for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.).

— Britt Cocanour is managing director for search and recruitment at Grossman Heinz. She was previously director of public outreach at Greenpeace.

— Emily Liner is joining Salesforce’s government affairs office. Today is her last day at Third Way.

SPOTTED: At a Democratic Communicators Network happy hour sponsored by S-3, according to a PI tipster: Caitlin Girouard of Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office; Mariel Saez of Rep.Steny Hoyer’s office; Emilie Simons of Rep. Adam Schiff’s office; Nick Zeller of Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office; Miranda Margowsky of Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s office; Ned Adriance of Sen. Tom Udall’s office; Melissa Miller of DGA; Tess Whittlesey of Rep. Salud Carbajal‘s office; Josh Weisz of Rep. Mark Takano’s office; Jessica Gail of Rep. André Carson; S-3’s Andrea Ricco and Todd Wooten.


Lavender Consultants: Jones walker, LLP on behalf of JDW Properties III, LLC
US Policy Strategies: General Electric Corporation
US Policy Strategies: Oracle Corporation
US Policy Strategies: Proctor & Gamble


Gary and Mary West Health Institute: Gary and Mary West Health Institute
Aaron Houston: Adam R Eidinger Mintwood Strategies
Clifford Smith: Middle East Forum
Fierce Government Relations: Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Shenker Russo & Clark LLP: Center for Disability Services
DC Strategies Group, LLC: Citizens For Gma Labeling


Michigan Victory Fund 2018 (Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), Bishop PAC Building Infrastructure Harnessing Our Priorities, NRCC)


Maine Liberty PAC (PAC)

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