With David Beavers and Garrett Ross
BILLIONAIRE HIRES LOBBYIST TO SALVAGE AMBASSADOR NOMINATION: “Papa” Doug Manchester apparently really wants to be an ambassador. President Donald Trump nominated Manchester, a San Diego real estate developer who once owned The San Diego Union-Tribune and is worth an estimated $1 billion, last year to be the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. But the Senate never confirmed him, and his prospects took a blow in February, when The Washington Post reported that Manchester “employed an unconventional, anachronistic management style that upended the newspaper’s culture and made many female workers uncomfortable” when he owned the Union-Tribune. Manchester emailed Donald Trump Jr., Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and several White House and State Department officials ahead of the publication of the Post story to apologize, according to the Union-Tribune.
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— A publication called Bahamas Press reported last month that Trump may nominate William Douglass for the ambassadorship instead. Two days later, Manchester’s company, Manchester Financial Group, hired Christian Whiton of Banner Public Affairs, apparently to get Manchester’s nomination back on track. The disclosure filing reports only that Whiton will be lobbying on “confirmation.” Manchester Financial Group didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did Whiton.
YELP HIRES BROWNSTEIN HYATT FARBER SCHRECK: Yelp is lobbying up. PI reported on Tuesday that Yelp was hiring Invariant to lobby on internet competition issues. The company has also hired a team of seven Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck lobbyists to work on the same issue, including Al Mottur, William Moschella, Greta Joynes, Marc Lampkin, Zach Pfister, Milan Dalal and Brian McGuire, according to a disclosure filing. Yelp spent just $390,000 on lobbying last year — a relatively modest sum for a well-known tech company — and employs one other lobbying firm, Bloom Strategic Counsel. So the new hires give Yelp substantially more lobbying firepower.
HSBC SNAGS TREASURY OFFICIAL: Matt Kellogg has left the Treasury Department to join HSBC’s Washington office as senior vice president for public affairs. He joined the administration last year and served as deputy assistant secretary for banking and finance in the legislative affairs office. He previously worked for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
HAMBERGER WILL RETIRE FROM RAILROAD TRADE GROUP NEXT YEAR: Ed Hamberger, the president and chief executive of the Association of American Railroads, “will retire early next year, after more than 20 years at the freight rail lobby,” POLITICO’s Lauren Gardner reports. The trade group has hired “Korn Ferry to look for a successor. Hamberger ‘is committed to ensuring a smooth transition and that there is an overlap in time with his successor,’ spokeswoman Jessica Kahanek said, referring to his open-ended retirement date.” Full story.
A COHEN QUESTION: Here’s an element of the Michael Cohen mess that hasn’t attracted much attention: In a statement last week, a Novartis spokeswoman said that the company stopped working with Cohen shortly after hiring him but kept paying him $100,000 a month for a year because “the contract unfortunately could only be terminated for cause.” As far as PI can tell, that’s unusual for a K Street contract, which often can be canceled with 30 or 60 days’ notice.
— Have you ever signed a yearlong contract that can only be terminated for cause? Do you know of anyone who has? Give us a shout: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to chat off the record, of course.
OPEN YOUR CHECKBOOKS: EPA “Administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed today he’s established a legal defense fund as he faces a dozen federal investigations from government watchdogs and Congress,” POLITICO’s Anthony Adragna reports. “‘It’s been set up,’ Pruitt said in response to a question from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Pruitt said donations to the fund would be made public pursuant to disclosure requirements and said he would not solicit donations from lobbyists or corporations with business before the agency. He later noted he would not personally seek contributions himself ‘since that’s done by attorneys and others.’” Full story.
— Will you be writing a check? Why or why not? Give us a shout: email@example.com.
THE WHITE HOUSE AS RÉSUMÉ RISK: The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports on a dynamic we’ve heard many lobbyists discuss in private: Working in President Donald Trump’s White House may not bolster your résumé the way working in previous administrations did. “One company that picked a former top Trump aide to be its chief executive tried to paper over the association, leaving the word ‘Trump’ off the press release when announcing the hire. … ‘During my time there I was thinking: “Is this experience going to hurt me or help me?”’ said one former aide who stayed about a year and was happy to land a post-White House job at a big company. ‘He is a polarizing president. Some people love what he says and some people hate it.’” Full story.
SHAHMORADI, O’KEEFFE SIGN CLIENTS: PI reported in February that Heideh Shahmoradi, a Senate Appropriations Committee staffer, and James O’Keeffe would start their own firm. They’ve signed their first lobbying clients now, according to disclosure filings: American Association of Airport Executives, General Aviation Manufacturers Association and National Concrete Masonry Association.
FLYING IN: Members of the Marketplace Lending Association are flying in Thursday to press members of Congress on the bank chartering process, IRS modernization and bank financial technology partnerships. They’ll be meeting with Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), among others.
— Members of Hadassah, which describes itself as the “women’s Zionist organization of America,” will be on the Hill on Thursday, too. They’ll be meeting with the offices of Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev,), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), John Duncan (R-Tenn.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
— Members of the Association of American Railroads held a fly-in Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in rail technology. Among the lawmakers they met with: Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), John J. Faso (R-N.Y.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).
RACING REPORT: A dozen members of Congress showed up this morning to run in the American Council of Life Insurers’ annual “Capital Challenge” 3-mile race, which benefits the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) was the fastest member overall, while Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was the fastest female member.
— Taylor Landin is joining the Greater Houston Partnership as senior vice president of public policy. He was previously a lobbyist for AT&T in Texas and is also a former staffer to Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas).
NEW JOINT FUNDRAISERS:
Wittman Victory Committee (Rep. Rob Wittman, America’s First PAC, NRCC)
American Strength (Super PAC)
Conservative Voices PAC (Super PAC)
Conservatives Harvesting Success PAC (Leadership PAC: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith)
Indivisible Action (PAC)
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS:
Bellevue Strategies LLC: The Alliance of Community Service Providers
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP: Yelp
CFM Strategic Communications (Conkling Fiskum & McCormick): Rogue Community College
Defense Consulting Group LLC: The Nickles Group LLC (on behalf of Aerojet Rocketdyne)
International Society For Stem Cell Research: International Society For Stem Cell Research
Invariant LLC: Counter Brands LLC
Invariant LLC: GTx Inc.
Invariant LLC: Yelp
O’Keeffe Shahmoradi Strategies LLC: American Association of Airport Executives
O’Keeffe Shahmoradi Strategies LLC: General Aviation Manufacturers Association
O’Keeffe Shahmoradi Strategies LLC: National Concrete Masonry Association
OneMain Holdings Inc.: OneMain Holdings Inc.
Petra Strategies LLC: Liftable Media Inc.
S-3 Group: Broadcom Inc.
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg P.A.: Apex Tool Group LLC
The Nickles Group LLC: Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc.
The Presidents’ Forum Of The Distilled Spirits Industry: The Presidents’ Forum Of The Distilled Spirits Industry
Williams and Jensen PLLC: Hill Country Conservancy
Womble Bond Dickinson US LLP: Rural Wireless Association
NEW LOBBYING TERMINATIONS:
Clean Energy Fuels Corp: Clean Energy Fuels Corp