With David Beavers, Garrett Ross and Daniel Lippman
RIO TINTO HIRES COVINGTON TO LOBBY ON SANCTIONS: Rio Tinto, the mining conglomerate, has hired Peter Flanagan and Stephen Rademaker of Covington & Burling to lobby on sanctions, according to a disclosure filing. Covington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Rio Tinto said in a statement in April that it was “reviewing arrangements” with parts of its far-flung operations affected by new U.S. sanctions on Russia. “As a result of the imposition of these sanctions, Rio Tinto is in the process of declaring force majeure on certain contracts and is working with its customers to minimise any disruption in supplies,” Rio Tinto said in the statement.
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— Rio Tinto spent $640,000 on Washington lobbying in the first half of this year, according to disclosure filings, and also retains Washington Council Ernst & Young and the Smith-Free Group. Neither of those firms reported lobbying on sanctions in the second quarter.
TWO MORE API DEPARTURES: Two more lobbyists are leaving the American Petroleum Institute. Hilary Moffett is leaving to become senior director of government affairs at Occidental Petroleum. And Brian Johnson is leaving API to become a principal at the Vogel Group. Earlier this month, POLITICO’s Ben Lefebvre and Marianne LeVine reported that at least six API officials left in recent months.
— When asked about the latest departures, a spokesperson for API pointed to a press release announcing recent hires. Those hires include Jonathan Barganier and Christopher McGowne, who have joined the state petroleum council; Gao Jie who joined the group’s global industry services division; and Brian George, who joined the market development division.
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WHAT TO EXPECT IN SEPTEMBER: The House of Representatives returns from its August recess after Labor Day and is scheduled to work 11 days in September, followed by two more weeks of work in October before members head home for the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election. But some lobbyists are skeptical the House will stick around the whole time. “My bet is the House is out pretty close to the end of September and the Senate sticks around” to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Rich Gold, who leads Holland & Knight’s public policy and regulation group, told PI.
— The chamber’s top priority will be passing a spending bill to prevent a government shutdown on Sept. 30. Lobbyists are watching to see if lawmakers can pass other stalled legislation, such as the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill and another extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, which must be reauthorized by Nov. 30. Corporate clients are particularly eager to see the FAA bill pass before the House skips town again. “People are frustrated,” Gold said. “It does sort of hamper investment in the industry to not have this settled.”
SCHATZ AIDE JOINS HOLLAND & KNIGHT: Michael Obeiter, an energy and climate adviser to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), is leaving the Hill to join Holland & Knight. He’ll be a senior public affairs adviser, working on energy issues. He worked for the World Resources Institute before joining Schatz’s office. He expects to register to lobby in the course of his work at Holland & Knight.
ROSS WITHDREW ZTE MONITOR OFFER FROM LAWYER WHO CRITICIZED TRUMP: “Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has appointed a former federal prosecutor to monitor China’s ZTE Corp after people familiar with the matter said he rescinded an offer to a former U.S. official for signing a ‘Never Trump’ letter before the 2016 presidential election,” Reuters’ Karen Freifeld and Doina Chiacu report. “A new monitor for ZTE is required as part of a June settlement that ended a ban on U.S. companies selling components to China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker.” Ross tapped Roscoe Howard of Barnes & Thornburg for the position.
— But “Howard was not the first choice of Commerce Department officials. Peter Lichtenbaum, a former assistant secretary for export administration at the Commerce Department, received a letter on Aug. 15 offering him the post, sources said. Ross then learned that Lichtenbaum was among the dozens of former national security officials who signed a letter in August 2016 saying Trump was not qualified to be president and they would never vote for him, the sources said on condition of anonymity. Last Friday, two days after making the offer, the department withdrew it, the sources said.” Full story.
FP1 MOVES TO ARLINGTON: FP1 Strategies has crossed the Potomac and moved from Dupont Circle into new office space in Clarendon. “Because of the hard work and dedication of our staff, our firm has grown to nearly 70 full-time employees,” Terry Nelson, one of the firm’s founding partners, said in a statement. The new space “accommodates our existing staff comfortably and affords us the ability to continue to grow. We’ve come a long way since we opened our doors in 2011, and we look forward to continuing to serve our clients from our new location.”
SENATE PASSES LOBBYING DISCLOSURE BILL: “The Senate has unanimously approved legislation to require disclosure of certain ‘crimes of character’ on lobbying forms,” The Associated Press reports. “The Justice Against Corruption on K Street Act, or JACK Act, that passed Thursday “seeks to provide greater transparency and accountability” in lobbying. It aims to close a loophole that allowed former lobbyist Jack Abramoff to lobby again without disclosing his corruption conviction. The bill from Republican John Kennedy of Louisiana and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia would require lobbyists with convictions for ‘bribery, extortion, embezzlement, and other crimes of character’ to disclose that criminal history on lobbying forms.” Full story.
RNC FUNDRAISING CARRIES ON DESPITE FINANCE COMMITTEE TURMOIL: Republican donors aren’t bothered by the guilty plea entered this week by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and a former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman,” POLITICO’s Lorraine Woellert reports. “Cohen is part of a troika of GOP finance officials taken down by scandal this year, after Las Vegas casino giant Steve Wynn and venture capitalist Elliott Broidy left the party’s leadership ranks over allegations of sexual harassment and paying off a mistress, respectively.”
— “But donors also got a balm — the RNC announced this week it had notched a record-breaking cash haul for July. ‘The impact of Cohen’s guilty plea on RNC fundraising will be infinitesimal, just as the revelations about Steve Wynn and Elliott Broidy have had no material impact,’ GOP donor Dan Eberhart told POLITICO. ‘At the end of the day, donors care about how the party is going to help their family, business, community and country.’” Another Republican familiar with the RNC’s fundraising efforts noted that “Michael Cohen never raised any money from anyone.” Full story.
— Rebecca Coffman has rejoined the Washington marketing firm Advoc8 as a senior vice president. She was previously digital director of In Pursuit Of.
— Jess McMahon has joined the Hewell Events Group. She was previously a senior membership associate at the Heritage Foundation.
NEW JOINT FUNDRAISERS
Flip WA Blue 2018 (Lisa Brown, Carolyn Long, Kim Schrier, Washington State Democratic Central Committee)
Longjohn Victory Fund (Matt Longjohn, Michigan Democratic State Central Committee)
Rose Victory Fund (Max Rose, New York State Democratic Committee)
American Potential PAC (Super PAC)
Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp Political Action Committee (PAC)
Jackson Holdings LLC and Jackson National Life Insurance Company Federal SSF (Jackson National Federal PAC) (Lobbyist/Registrant PAC)
Political Rascals PAC, Inc. (PAC)
The Fight PAC (PAC)
United Veterans Alliance of America LLC (PAC)
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Covington & Burling LLP: Rio Tinto Services, Inc.
Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies: Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County Indiana
Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies: Lindsay Corporation
Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies: SmartyPants Vitamins
Crowell & Moring LLP: Port Link GP, Ltd. (on behalf of The Port Fund L.P.)
Farragut Partners LLP: electroCore
Granite Public Affairs: Texas Public Policy Foundation
Holland & Knight LLP: Coalition for Investor Choice, Inc.
NEW LOBBYING TERMINATIONS