With David Beavers and Daniel Lippman
TRIAL LAWYERS LOBBYING TO END ‘QUALIFIED IMMUNITY’ FOR POLICE OFFICERS: The police reform legislation that’s started coming together in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis hasn’t drawn nearly as much lobbying as the federal government’s multitrillion-dollar response to the coronavirus pandemic. One trade group that’s lobbying on both efforts: the American Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers. The trade group has been battling the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a flotilla of other trade groups over proposals to make it harder for workers and customers sickened by the coronavirus to sue businesses. And it’s lobbying in support of efforts to end “qualified immunity,” which protects police officers from civil suits over misconduct.
— Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Floyd’s family who is a member of the trade group, urged lawmakers to reform qualified immunity at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this morning. “If officers know they have immunity, they act with impunity,” he said at the hearing. And Julia Duncan, a American Association for Justice lobbyist, said the trade group was lobbying in support of House Democrats’ proposal. “Our hope is that there will be overwhelming support for a number of these reforms in the House and that we can continue the conversations in the Senate,” she said.
— Are you lobbying on Congress’ police reform efforts? Drop me a line: [email protected].
NEW BUSINESS: The pandemic is still driving business on K Street. Cargill, the privately held Minnesota conglomerate, has hired Paul Brathwaite, Derron Parks and René Muñoz of Federal Street Strategies to lobby on the federal government’s coronavirus response. Cargill also retains Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Global Business Policy-DC and the Russell Group, according to disclosure filings.
— And the nine clients that Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck registered this month means the firm has signed a total of 31 new lobbying clients for work related to the coronavirus, according to the firm, along with two more that the firm plans to register in the coming days. Demand remains strong even as the Senate has slow-rolled the next coronavirus relief package. “While I think the pace is slower, I think it’s more likely than not that there will be a package that comes together” before the August recess, Marc Lampkin, the managing partner of the firm’s Washington office, said in an interview.
HOW GOOGLE IS FIGHTING BACK: “David Espinoza appeared unhappy when Arizona joined scores of states investigating Google last year,” The Washington Post’s Tony Romm reports. “The Phoenix-based owner of a shoe-and-leather store wrote in a local newspaper he was ‘amazed and a little dumbfounded’ by regulators’ campaign to ‘change how digital platforms operate.’ ‘The current system is working for small businesses, and as the old saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ he wrote.”
— “But Espinoza’s words, published in September by the Arizona Capitol Times, weren’t entirely his own. They were written on his behalf by an advocacy group that’s backed by Google and other tech behemoths, reflecting Silicon Valley’s stealthy new attempts to shape and weaponize public perception in response to heightened antitrust scrutiny. Under the withering microscope of government watchdogs, tech giants including Amazon, Facebook and Google have funded a bevy of political groups that have helped push positive polling and engaged in other fingerprint-free tactics designed to deter regulators who are seeking to break up or penalize the industry.”
FORMER JUDGE ADVISING ON FLYNN CASE ACCUSES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OF ‘GROSS PROSECUTORIAL ABUSE’: John Gleeson, a former federal judge tapped to weigh in on Michael Flynn’s case as a friend of the court, recommended in a court filing today that U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan “proceed to sentence the former Trump national security adviser on the false-statement charge he admitted to two-and-a-half years ago” even though the Justice Department dropped its prosecution of Flynn, POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report.
— “The facts surrounding the filing of the Government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse,” Gleeson wrote. “They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.”
WHO’S LOBBYING TO ALLOW OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION OFF FLORIDA’S COAST: “The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast — but will wait until after the November election to avoid blowback in a swing state whose waters both parties have long considered sacrosanct, according to four people familiar with the plan,” POLITICO’s Ben Lefebvre reports. Among those who have lobbied on behalf of the plan: former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who’s now a lobbyist at Mercury. Vitter requested “in March 2018 that the agency open Florida’s waters for exploration,” according to Interior Department documents obtained by POLITICO.
ADVOCACY GROUPS SWEAR OFF FACEBOOK CASH: “Two left-leaning advocacy groups announced Tuesday night they would no longer accept funding from Facebook because of its lack of action on incendiary social media posts by President Donald Trump,” POLITICO’s John Hendel reports. “New America’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge both cited Trump’s recent post, in the midst of racial justice rallies following the killing of Minneapolis’ George Floyd, ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ Twitter slapped that message with a cautionary warning, saying it violated policies around glorifying violence, whereas Facebook let the message stand as is.”
— The Internet Accountability Project has hired Will Chamberlain as senior counsel. He will remain editor-in-chief and publisher of Human Events magazine.
— Anthem has hired Max Isaacoff as an in-house lobbyist. He was previously a lobbyist for the National Rural Health Association.
— Portia Reddick White has joined the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as senior director for strategic partnerships, POLITICO’s Morning Education reports. She previously was a federal lobbyist with the National Education Association.
America’s Future First (Super PAC)
American Constitutional Conservatives (PAC)
Right Side Political Action Committee (Super PAC)
Third Way Politics PA (PAC)
With the Vote (Super PAC)
Alpine Group Partners, LLC.: Texas Woman’s University Foundation
Alta Crest LLC: Ursa Major Technologies
Andrew Futey: Envision Group LLC
Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz /The Daschle Group: EOS Surfaces, LLC
Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz /The Daschle Group: Monongalia Health Systems, Inc. (d/b/a Mon Health)
Bridge Street Group, LLC: Iggy Ventures LLC
Brody Group L.L.C. Public Affairs: Ursa Major Technologies
Cassidy & Associates, Inc.: Switch
Federal Street Strategies, LLC: Cargill, Incorporated
Fierce Government Relations: PAE
Holland & Hart LLP: US Flagged Overnight Vessel Coalition (Informal Coalition)
Holland & Knight LLP: National Housing Resource Center
Holland & Knight LLP: Stratasys, Inc.
The Livingston Group, LLC: Turing Video
VA Solutions LLC: Human Rights Project Management
Van Scoyoc Associates: Memsel Manufacturing Co.
Wise Capital Strategy, LLC: Victory Six Advisors
Andrew Futey: National Association of Clean Water Agencies
Andrew Futey: Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
Andrew Futey: Vadxx Energy
Katherine Dutilh: Milliken
The Friedlander Group: Moshe Margareten
The Friedlander Group: Rav Tov