What Abramoff’s prosecution means for K Street

With Daniel Lippman

WHAT ABRAMOFF’S PROSECUTION MEANS FOR K STREET: “The Justice Department is prosecuting the legendary lobbyist Jack Abramoff on felony conspiracy charges. Again. More than 14 years after he pleaded guilty in the biggest Washington lobbying scandal in a generation, Abramoff has agreed to enter guilty pleas on charges of criminal conspiracy and failing to register as a lobbyist for his role in two separate schemes, according to the Justice Department.” In the first, he allegedly failed to register as a lobbyist in work for a California marijuana company and again after being hired by an FBI undercover agent posing as a businessperson. In the second, he and another man criminally misrepresented a cryptocurrency called AML Bitcoin, according to prosecutors.

— Abramoff’s prosecution is a watershed moment for K Street: “It appears to be the first time the Justice Department has filed criminal charges under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.” Robert Kelner, a Covington & Burling lawyer “who advises clients on lobbying laws, said it was tough to say whether Abramoff’s prosecution was an exceptional case or whether ‘this is the first shot in a new and unprecedented effort to actually enforce the largely unenforced Lobbying Disclosure Act.’ ‘The fact that it involves probably the most infamous lobbyist of all time, Jack Abramoff, makes it that much more sensational,’ he added.”

— While the DOJ has stepped up prosecutions of unregistered lobbying under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in recent years, prosecutors haven’t gone after violators of the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which governs domestic lobbying. Thomas Spulak of King & Spalding, “another lawyer who advises clients on lobbying laws, said the case appeared to signal a new aggressiveness on the part of prosecutors. No one ‘should think simply because Jack Abramoff is in a class by himself, this is a one-time shot,’ Spulak wrote in an email to POLITICO. ‘There will be more.’”

Good afternoon, and welcome to PI. Tips: [email protected]. Twitter: @theodoricmeyer.

HUNTER WILL LEAVE FEC FOR KOCH-BACKED NONPROFIT: The Federal Election Commission regained its quorum last month when the Senate confirmed Trey Trainor as its fourth commissioner after nearly a year without enough commissioners to address complaints of campaign finance violations. Now the agency is about to lose its quorum again, POLITICO’s Daniel Lippman reports. Caroline Hunter, a longtime Republican commissioner, is stepping down, according to a resignation letter obtained by POLITICO. She’s leaving to join the legal team at Stand Together, a nonprofit funded by Charles Koch’s network

— Hunter, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2008, will step down on July 3. Her departure will hobble the FEC, which only met for the first time since Trainor was confirmed last week. At the end of March, the agency had “more than 300 pending cases that hadn’t been addressed, including about three dozen that alleged foreign interference.”

— In her resignation letter, Hunter pointedly criticized one of her fellow commissioners, Ellen Weintraub, “an outspoken Democrat with whom she has long tangled, although she didn’t single her out by name. ‘One Commissioner — who has served for more than a decade past the expiration of her term — routinely mischaracterizes disagreements among Commissioners about the law as ‘dysfunction,’ rather than a natural consequence of the FEC’s unique structure, misrepresents the jurisdiction of the agency and deliberately enables outside groups to usurp the Commission’s role in litigation and chill protected speech,’ she wrote. ‘The American people deserve better.’”

HOW POLICE GROUPS EXERCISE INFLUENCE IN WASHINGTON: At a White House meeting last week that included President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Larry Cosme “and about two dozen others listened as families of victims of police violence spoke emotionally of the need for a different approach, and pledged that they were ready to make some changes,” The New York TimesLuke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson report.

— “But afterward, Mr. Cosme, the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, pulled aside Mr. Scott, who was putting the finishing touches on Republicans’ policing bill, and Mr. Barr to push back against two of the most aggressive ideas under consideration: peeling back qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that shields police officers from lawsuits, and building a national database of civilian complaints against them. He left the meeting unworried. ‘Attorney General Barr assured us it wouldn’t go that far,’ Mr. Cosme recalled.”

— The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and other police groups have substantial sway in Washington. “Six of the larger police organizations have spent a combined $2.9 million since 2017 lobbying the federal government. And various law enforcement entities have contributed more than $100,000 to members of Congress this election cycle, roughly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.” A couple of police groups have added lobbyists in recent months: The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association hired the Folger Square Group in April, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League brought on Vectis DC earlier this month, according to disclosure filings.

CORONAVIRUS TEST KIT COMPANY UNDER INVESTIGATION: “Federal agencies are investigating the quality of Covid-19 testing materials produced by a federal contractor following allegations that dust, debris, bugs and human blood came in contact with vials in the test kits, according to people briefed on the probes,” The Wall Street Journal’s James Grimaldi, Susan Pulliam and Mark Maremont report.

— “U.S. investigators for the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security have been questioning former employees of Fillakit LLC, a company that won a $10.2 million contract from the Federal Emergency Management Agency just six days after it was created in Florida, the people said. Two other agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services also are conducting quality investigations, and a FEMA spokeswoman urged states that received the kits to avoid using them for Covid-19 tests.”

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Webb Victory Fund (Dr. Cameron Webb for Congress, Democratic Party of Virginia)

Build Blue PAC (Super PAC)
Chaldeans for President Trump 2020 (Super PAC)
Citizens for Free Enterprise (Super PAC)
Coalition Against Voter Fraud (PAC)
Restore Decency (PAC)
Two Seventy (Super PAC)

Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld: Magnesita Refractories Company
Constantinople & Vallone Consulting LLC: Mega Contracting Group LLC
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: The Task Force for Global Health, Inc.
Foley & Lardner, LLP: New Mountain Capital
Holland & Knight LLP: Florida Business Development Corporation
Holland & Knight LLP: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
Platinum Advisors DC, LLC: The Pokemon Company International
Rubicon Advisors, LLC: Pure Blue Diagnostics, a division of Pure Blue Medical
Subject Matter (fka Elmendorf Ryan): Brennan Center for Justice
The Livingston Group, LLC: Falcon Specialized Industrial Services Inc.
University Of Mississippi Medical Center: University of Mississippi Medical Center
Van Scoyoc Associates: Altimmune, Inc.
Williams and Jensen, PLLC: Energy Advance Center

State Federal Strategies: Capitol Counsel LLC On Behalf Of Physicians Advocacy Institute

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