Crypto Council hires Akin Gump, Covington signs Kia
With Daniel Lippman
NEW BUSINESS: The Crypto Council for Innovation, whose members include the crypto exchange Coinbase, Fidelity, Block, Andreessen Horowitz, Gemini and Paradigm, has hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. The council made its first lobbying hire last year, bringing on Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as the crypto industry scrambled to respond to its inclusion as a pay-for in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
— But the group parted ways with Brownstein at the end of the year, and picked up the Sternhell Group, which represents a number of other crypto and fintech startups (as well as more established financial firms). Sternhell also lobbied for Facebook back when the platform was working on its own digital currency offering, and recent disclosures show they still lobby for parent company Meta on digital currency and blockchain issues.
— Akin Gump’s Brendan Dunn, Sam Olswanger, Eric Ettorre, Jose Borjon, Virgil Miller and Casey Higgins will lobby on crypto legislation for the trade group.
— Kia America has picked up its third outside firm, Covington & Burling. Nick Xenakis, a former general counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, will advise the South Korean automaker on the Inflation Reduction Act’s electric vehicle tax credit. The provision excludes companies who assemble EVs outside of North America or whose battery components meet certain supply chain requirements, sending companies like South Korea’s Kia and Hyundai and Korean battery makers LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI and SK On scrambling.
— South Korean media reported last month that Kia would shift its production to the U.S. starting in 2024 in order to qualify for the tax credit, while South Korean officials have raised the issues with their U.S. counterparts, and President Joe Bidenhas reportedly pledged to keep those discussions going in the meantime. Kia also retains Thorn Run Partners and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
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DEPARTMENT OF PADDING YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS: The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones are out with a big new investigation today that examines the extent to which retired U.S. military brass have cashed in on their expertise by advising foreign governments over the years.
— “More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — have taken lucrative jobs since 2015 working for foreign governments, mostly in countries known for human rights abuses and political repression,” according to the Post, which obtained more than 4,000 pages of documents detailing the hirings after a yearslong legal battle with the State Department and branches of the military.
— Among the findings were that “two-thirds of the jobs taken by U.S. veterans have been in the Middle East and North Africa, where governments pay top dollar for American military expertise honed by two decades of war and counterterrorism operations in the Arab world,” including former high-ranking officers who worked as paid consultants for Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry, the United Arab Emirates, as well as Australia.
— The Post also found that, despite foreign work requiring approval by both the Pentagon and State Department, that approval “is almost automatic,” while enforcement for unauthorized foreign work is “nonexistent.”
MICHAEL TORREY REBRANDS: Ag-focused lobbying firm Michael Torrey Associates has rebranded to become the Torrey Advisory Group, a move aimed at reflecting “the breadth of experience we bring to our clients and our continued commitment to the food, agricultural, and forestry industry,” Michael Torrey, the firm’s founder, said in a statement.
— Torrey, a former USDA deputy chief of staff, launched the firm back in 2005 with a focus on food and agriculture lobbying, and last year saw its highest lobbying revenues yet with clients including the newly merged poultry conglomerate Wayne-Sanderson Farms, the American Beverage Association, fertilizer producer Mosaic Company and the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau. Its offerings have since expanded to include association management as well as other public affairs services.
— “This industry is not what it was 20 years ago,” Torrey said. “As the needs of our clients have evolved, we have too, providing additional services to ensure their organization has the structure, vision, and expertise to remain successful for years to come.”
NTCA ADDS A BIPARTISAN PAIR OF SENATE AIDES:NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is preparing for whichever party controls the Senate next year, adding two new staffers from either side of the aisle in the chamber. Virdina Gibbs, who most recently served as counsel for Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Brendan Dailey, who has worked for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) for nearly a decade, have joined the trade group as directors of government affairs.
— The rural telecom trade group has also added Taylor Holland as digital communications manager and Blain Tesfaye has joined NTCA as policy analyst. Holland most recently worked as chief of staff to the chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
SUPER PAC POLITICS: Puck’s Teddy Schleifer and Tara Palmeri report that “Priorities USA, the establishment PAC long preferred and blessed by the Bidens, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, is unlikely to be the main super PAC of choice next cycle” should President Joe Biden mount a reelection bid.
— “Instead, the White House is leaning toward Future Forward, a new Silicon Valley-backed entrant that shot out of a cannon last cycle and ended up spending a total of one-quarter of a billion dollars in the 2020 cycle.”
— “The state of play is fluid, and some compromise may eventually be reached, but Future Forward is widely seen as having the inside track. The White House has been quietly nodding to donors to support the group in 2022, according to a Democratic fundraiser with direct knowledge of the conversations.”
— The two groups have ties to different factions of Bidenworld: Anita Dunn disclosed past consulting work for Future Forward when she joined the White House this year. Her former firm SKDK has worked with the group, as has “GMMB, which was founded by Jim Margolis, an old Obama hand who was also an early backer of Kamala Harris.”
— Meanwhile, Jen O’Malley Dillon, who ran Biden’s campaign and is now his deputy chief of staff, “is personally close with Priorities chairman Guy Cecil.” The consulting firm she helped launch, Precision Strategies, “placed $24 million worth of media buys for Priorities in the 2016 cycle.”
— Megan Booth has joined the Mortgage Bankers Association as associate vice president for commercial/multifamily policy. She most recently was senior vice president for policy at the Manufactured Housing Institute and is a National Association of Realtors alum.
— Christopher Krepich has joined ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ (R-Wash.) staff on the Energy and Commerce Committee as press secretary. He was most recently communications director at Nahigian Strategies and is a Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) alum.
— Christy Goldfuss is leaving the Center for American Progress to become chief policy impact officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, per Morning Energy. Trevor Higgins will be CAP’s new senior vice president for energy and environment policy.
— Kate Black, a longtime aide to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, has left the agency and is launching an advocacy and public affairs consulting firm called K. Black Strategies.
— Brian Whitehurst is now head of regulatory affairs at Lukka. He was previously New York assistant attorney general for crypto and fintech regulatory compliance.
— Alex Rosenwald is now senior communications director at The Hill. He previously was director of media relations at the Hudson Institute.
— Deirdre Schifeling is the new national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union. She most recently was advocacy director in the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, and is a Fight Back Table and Planned Parenthood alum.
— Kara Graves is now partner in Wilkinson Barker Knauer’s D.C. office. She previously was vice president of regulatory affairs at CTIA.
— Michael Wear has launched the Center for Christianity and Public Life, a new nonpartisan nonprofit, with chief of staff Phebe Meyer.
— Caroline Swann is joining Invariant as chief people officer. She previously oversaw employee experience programming at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and is an RNC and Bush White House alum.
ACT – Democratic Victory Fund 2022 (PAC)
American Citizens PAC (Super PAC)
Alaskans For Honest Government (Hybrid PAC)
BeHeard Pac (Hybrid PAC)
NEW PATRIOT SUPER POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (PAC)
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