With David Beavers and Garrett Ross
FIRST IN PI — HOFFMAN JUMPS TO CAPITOL COUNSEL: Jill Hoffman is leaving the Financial Services Roundtable to join Capitol Counsel as a partner. She’ll start next month. Hoffman has spent the past three years as a vice president of government affairs at the trade group, where she lobbied on issues such as the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule. She’ll work on similar issues at Capitol Counsel. She’s also a former lobbyist for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and worked for former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), who’s a lobbyist himself now, of course.
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MORE DETAILS ON MANAFORT’S LOBBYING: Paul Manafort’s lawyers have argued that his work with a clutch of former European politicians known as the Hapsburg group didn’t constitute an unregistered foreign lobbying effort because it was focused on Europe, not the United States. On Tuesday night, prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller released new evidence they say shows that’s not true. A brief filed by prosecutors indicates that lobbying efforts by members of the Hapsburg group in 2012 were coordinated by Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, and “came directly in response to requests by the Ukrainian government,” POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Theodoric Meyer report. “Hapsburg group members called U.S. senators in 2012 to try to influence a resolution condemning [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych‘s imprisonment of” Yulia Tymoshenko, his political rival.
— “The Hapsburg group’s outreach responded to an ‘urgent request’ from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, which stressed that its request for a Hapsburg member to ‘make an early morning call’ to a Senator was an issue ‘under Big Guy’s personal control’ — a reference to President Yanukovych,” prosecutors wrote. While POLITICO and others have previously reported that killing the resolution — which ultimately passed after the language was weakened in committee — was a priority for Manafort’s lobbying effort, Yanukovych’s personal interest in the resolution wasn’t known.
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BILL SMITH SIGNS PALANTIR: Palantir hired Bill Smith, Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief of staff, to lobby on data management issues. Smith, who’s built a lucrative business lobbying the vice president’s office for clients such as Microsoft and Verizon, will lobby for Palantir alongside Lindsey Craig, another former Pence aide who now serves as vice president of Smith’s firm, Sextons Creek. Palantir, a data analysis company started in 2004 by Peter Thiel, has spent more and more on lobbying as it’s grown, shelling out $410,000 in the first quarter. The company also retains ATS Communications, Capitol Tax Partners, Cassidy & Associates, HLP&R Advocacy and J.A. Green & Company, according to disclosure records, as well as American Defense International as a subcontractor to J.A. Green.
SPEAKING OF PENCE: The vice president’s older brother, Greg Pence, who’s likely heading to Congress next year after winning the primary in the race to fill the Indiana congressional seat that Rep. Luke Messer vacated to run for Senate, has formed a new joint fundraising committee, Greg Pence Victory. The committee will raise money for Greg Pence’s campaign; his leadership PAC, Mustang PAC; Mike Pence’s leadership PAC, Great America Committee; and the NRCC.
CLARK HILL ADDS TWO: Clark Hill is adding two new lawyers: Amanda Tharpe and Derek Ross. Tharpe will be a lobbyist in the firm’s environment, energy and natural resources group and was previously the staff director of the Senate Environment Superfund and Waste Management Subcommittee. Ross will work in the political law practice and was previously a lawyer for the FEC.
MIDTERM MEMO: CGCN Group sent a memo to clients this morning parsing what will be more important to voters as the midterm elections approach: the roaring economy or President Donald Trump’s approval rating, which has inched up in recent months but remains in the low 40s. “At the moment, Trump does not appear to be the same anvil for Republicans he was six months ago,” the firm wrote. “That, of course, could change as quickly as his next tweet.” Here’s the full memo.
BANKING LOBBY TURNS TO MARIJUANA: “The nation’s banks, which just scored a big victory on a landmark deregulation bill, are now using their lobbying firepower for a more unorthodox cause: loosening federal restrictions on the marijuana industry,” POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports. “Emboldened by support from both President Donald Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — two relentless foes on most other issues — top banking trade groups are pressing policymakers to make it easier for their members to serve cannabis businesses that are now legal in states like California and Colorado. ‘If we’re not at a turning point, we’re very close to it,’ said Cam Fine, the former head of the Independent Community Bankers of America trade association.” Full story.
NORTH KOREA UPDATE: There isn’t an enormous amount of lobbying on North Korean issues. One exception: McGuireWoods Consulting has been lobbying since last year on behalf of Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea and died shortly after his release. Trump called the Warmbiers “good friends of mine” after his meeting with Kim Jong Un on Tuesday and said that “without Otto, this would not have happened.” “We appreciate President Trump’s recent comments about our family,” the Warmbiers said in a statement. “We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully something positive can come from this.”
FLYING IN: H&R Block is on the Hill today for the company’s annual fly-in, talking with lawmakers about IRS reform and efforts to protect taxpayers from less scrupulous tax return preparers. It’ll be meeting with Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), among others.
AMERICAN FUTURE FUND AD URGES TRUMP TO FIRE PRUITT: American Future Fund, a conservative nonprofit that ran ads in 2016 attacking Trump during the GOP primary, is going up with a new TV ad accusing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt of “embarrassing President Trump.” “Scott Pruitt is a swamp monster,” the ad’s narrator says. “Mr. President, you know what to do.” The ad then cuts to a clip of Trump on “The Apprentice” saying, “You’re fired.” The ad is running in South Dakota and Nebraska during Pruitt’s trip to the area this week. Watch the ad here.
QUESTIONS OF INFLUENCE: “The Education Department on Tuesday denied that the National Rifle Association is playing any role in a White House school safety commission, after a leading Democratic senator raised questions about the organization’s influence,” POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma reports. “Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, in a letter pressed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about whether the NRA was ‘involved in setting the scope of the commission’s work“ or if any member of the commission has met with the NRA.” Full story.
NEW JOINT FUNDRAISERS:
California Candidates Victory Fund (TJ Cox, Andrew Janz, Katie Hill, Josh Harder, Gil Cisneros, Katie Porter, Mike Levin, Blue Momentum PAC)
Greg Pence Victory (Greg Pence, Mustang PAC, Great America Committee, NRCC)
Buckeye PAC (Leadership PAC: Anthony Gonzalez)
Kids Go Blue (Unknown)
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS:
Cogent Strategies LLC: Mr. Jay Alix
Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman P.C.: The InterMed Group
Hettinger Strategy Group LLC: Qlik Technologies Inc.
Invariant LLC: Synapse Technologies Corporation
Ken Cunningham Group LLC: Leon Silvera
Kevin Jones: McKeon Group Inc
Mercury: Nolan Thompson & Leighton PLC
Molnlycke Health Care US LLC: Molnlycke Health Care US LLC
Orion Advocates: Lignetics Inc.
Sextons Creek: Palantir
Signal Group Consulting LLC: Wiley Rein LLP on behalf of the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems Intl.
The Consilio Group: California Takshila University
The Consilio Group: Cipher Tech Solutions
The Consilio Group: nMeta
NEW LOBBYING TERMINATIONS: