With Daniel Lippman
NEW BUSINESS: Binance.US, the American arm of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, hired its first lobbying firms last month, newly filed disclosures show, as policymakers in Washington face calls to rein in the rapidly growing and mostly unregulated industry. Hogan Lovells’ Ivan Zapien, a Democratic lobbyist who previously was chief of staff to now-Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and former House GOP aides Aaron Cutler and Chase Kroll will lobby for the exchange.
— Binance.US also hired a former House Financial Services aide and a former House chief of staff from Ice Miller Strategies to lobby on its behalf, according to disclosures filed last week. Though the company has not previously hired lobbyists in Washington, last August it joined the Blockchain Association, an industry lobbying group that was a vocal player in negotiations over cryptocurrency tax provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and that has spent nearly $300,000 on lobbying in the first half of 2021.
— Meanwhile, Rover, the pet care site sometimes referred to along with its competitor Wag as the Uber of dog walking, has retained Mercury Public Affairs as its first outside lobbying firm. Mercury’s Mike McSherry, an alum of the RNC, Republican Governors’ Association and Labor Department, will lobby for Rover on tax and labor classification issues — a development that comes as the Biden administration has pledged to recognize workers dispatched by apps as employees rather than contractors. Gig companies are also facing new tax reporting requirements beginning next year, thanks to the coronavirus stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.
DLA PIPER REGISTERS TO REPRESENT KING OF JORDAN: In the days before Jordan’s King Abdullah was alleged in a report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to have funneled $100 million through offshore companies to buy more than a dozen luxury homes in the U.S. and U.K., the monarch, a close U.S. ally, was in the midst of hiring the law firm DLA Piper to provide “legal advice related to potential defamation and other legal remedies associated with inquiries” or reports involving the king, according to documents filed with the Justice Department last week.
— Mary Elizabeth Gately is representing the king at a rate of $1,335 per hour, according to a copy of the contract submitted to the department that was dated Sept. 20 and signed on Sept. 29, days before the consortium published a series of reports on Sunday. The king was just one of hundreds of global elites whose financial secrets were included in the Pandora Papers, the consortium’s latest trove of documents, though his attorneys denied to the ICIJ that he had done anything improper by purchasing the homes through offshore companies.
Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Send lobbying tips: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.
FIRST IN PI — VIATRIS’ JASO JUMPS TO BROWNSTEIN: Joe Jaso is joining Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s government relations team as a policy director working on state and federal issues. He joins the firm from Viatris, the company formed through the merger of Pfizer’s Upjohn and Mylan, where he was head of U.S. state government affairs. He was Mylan’s head of state government affairs prior to the merger. He was also vice president of federal affairs at McGuireWoods Consulting and a vice president at Dutko Worldwide.
INSIDE HUNGARY’S U.S. INFLUENCE CAMPAIGN: “Former Vice President Mike Pence turned up in Hungary last month to speak to a conference on conservative social values hosted by the far-right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban,” Ken Vogel and Benjamin Novak write for The New York Times. “Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, was another recent visitor. Tucker Carlson did his Fox News show from Hungary for a week this summer. The American Conservative Union is planning a version of its CPAC gathering in Budapest early next year.”
— “Those are among the more visible recent fruits of a well-funded campaign by Mr. Orban in the United States that stretches back a decade and now stands as a case study in how governments around the world seek to shape policies and debates in Washington, sometimes raising concerns about improper foreign influence in U.S. politics.”
— “Carried out by a network of government offices, Washington lobbyists, Hungarian diaspora groups, educational institutions and government-funded foundations, the effort’s main impact has been to bolster Mr. Orban’s image as a conservative leader on the world stage — and to counter his reputation as an authoritarian nationalist who is cozying up to Russia and China.”
— “It has also notched some tangible, if fleeting, policy victories for Mr. Orban, including the withdrawal during the Trump administration of a State Department grant to nurture independent news media in Hungary and the securing of a long-coveted Oval Office meeting for Mr. Orban in 2019 with President Donald J. Trump.”
ANNALS OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE: “Alek Skarlatos, a hero soldier-turned-Republican congressional candidate, started a nonprofit shortly after his 2020 defeat in a western Oregon race, pledging to advocate for veterans ‘left high and dry’ by the country ‘they put their lives on the line for.’” But, The Associated Press’ Brian Slodysko reports, “the group, which Skarlatos seeded with $93,000 in leftover campaign funds, has done little since then to advance that cause.”
— “What it has nurtured, though, are Skarlatos’ political ambitions, providing $65,000, records show, to his 2022 bid for a rematch with longtime Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio,” who is one of a number of members being targeted by the GOP for the midterms. Skarlatos, who became famous after he helped disrupt an attack on a train bound for Paris by an armed Islamic State sympathizer, started his nonprofit a month after losing to DeFazio. He named it “15:17 Trust — a reference to the train attack. It was registered in Virginia, with his campaign treasurer also serving as the group’s treasurer, records show.”
Since then “the group has had a decidedly low profile. It has an active online fundraising page, but its website is offline. A Facebook page is ‘liked’ by only nine people. Its Twitter account has zero followers and only one tweet from April, soliciting input for a survey on veterans’ concerns. A search of media databases shows no instance of the group being mentioned in news stories.”
FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER GOES PUBLIC: “The former Facebook Inc. employee who gathered documents that formed the foundation of The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series said she acted to help prompt change at the social-media giant, not to stir anger toward it,” the Journal’s Jeff Horwitz wrote in a profile of Frances Haugen, a former product manager hired to help protect against election interference on the platform. She “said she had grown frustrated by what she saw as the company’s lack of openness about its platforms’ potential for harm and unwillingness to address its flaws. She is scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday. She has also sought federal whistleblower protection with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
— In a 1,500-word memo obtained by The New York Times over the weekend, the company’s top lobbyist, Nick Clegg, sought to rebut Haugen’s allegations ahead of her unveiling in an episode of “60 Minutes” on Sunday night. “Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out,” he said in the memo, in which he called Haugen’s impending accusations, which included blaming Facebook for January’s insurrection at the Capitol, “misleading.” He wrote that “what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization.”
— Jen Daulby has joined the constituent service platform Indigov as chief of staff. She most recently was senior vice president of government affairs at the Consumer Brand Association and is a House Administration Committee, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Monsanto and Land O’Lakes alum.
— Elizabeth Goodman is joining Husch Blackwell Strategies to launch its Phoenix office as a principal. She previously was a partner at Christian Goodman PLC.
— Ivelisse Porroa-Garcia is now director of government affairs at Ferox Strategies. She previously was policy director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
— Michelle Anderson is now head of marketing and development at ROKK Solutions. She’d been a senior adviser for the public affairs firm since April 2020.
— Jordan Barth is joining the Pew Charitable Trusts as a government relations associate. He was most recently the DNC’s voter protection hotline & research coordinator during the 2020 election.
— Emergent BioSolutions has promoted Assal Hellmer to senior director for business communications, and Matt Hartwig to senior director for media relations. The firm also announced Katherine Getty has been promoted to director for federal government affairs.
— Patrick Uzcategui is now an government relations associate at Sylvamo, a new spinoff company from International Paper Company. He was previously government affairs coordinator at Tyson Foods.
— Allie Caccamo is now an associate doing tech policy strategy at Christoff & Co. She most recently was an account coordinator at Allison+Partners.
Battle PAC (PAC)
Illinois First Alliance (PAC)
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, AGAIN! INC. (Super PAC)
Riiid Labs Inc. Political Action Committee (PAC)
Bose Public Affairs Group: We Work For Health
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP: Chspsc, LLC
Covington & Burling LLP: Real-World Evidence (Rwe) Alliance (Informal Coalition)
Dla Piper LLP (US): Previcare USa, Inc.
Exigent Government Relations: Liberty Mutual Group
Fgh Holdings, LLC (Formerly Known As The Glover Park Group LLC): Atomenergoremont Plc
Hogan Lovells US LLP: Bam Trading Services, Inc./Binance.US
J M Burkman & Associates: Radu Buchmann
Lobbyit.Com: Jonathan Rodriguez Cefalu
Mercury Public Affairs, LLC: A Place For Rover
Mercury Public Affairs, LLC: H. Lee Moffitt Center Cancer Center
Mercury Public Affairs, LLC: Old North Strategies Obo Coastal And Southern Plain Minor Baseball Leagues
Putalastrategies: Galaxy Gives Action Fund
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.: Hawassa Industrial Park Investors Association
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.: Jansteel USa
Fbb Federal Relations: Mckinley Paper Company
Freemyer & Associates P.C.: Enefit American Oil Co
Markley And Company: City & Borough Of Sitka Alaska
Nathanson+Hauck: Pew Charitable Trusts
Stratford Strategies, LLC Formerly Known As Cb Anderson Partners, LLC: City Of College Park, Ga
Stratford Strategies, LLC Formerly Known As Cb Anderson Partners, LLC: City Of Oceanside, Ca
Stratford Strategies, LLC Formerly Known As Cb Anderson Partners, LLC: City Of Santa Monica, Ca
The Blc Group, LLC: Williams & Connolly LLP For The Star Family