By: Theodoric Meyer and Marianne Levine
CANNABIS LOBBYING CONTINUES: The medical cannabis company Surterra Holdings has hired the Smith-Free Group to lobby on financial services and medical cannabis issues, according to a disclosure filing. It’s the latest registration in a burgeoning sub-niche of Washington lobbying, as both recreational and medical cannabis become bigger and bigger businesses in the states where they’re legal. (Surterra, which is based in Atlanta, says on its websitethat it produces a “beautifully refined, purified golden-hued cannabis oil, unlike any in the industry.”)
— The National Cannabis Industry Association, which hired its first full-time lobbyist in 2014, spent $431,000 on Washington lobbying last year. And individual companies continue to hire their own lobbyists. Just this year, Uphold has hired former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) of Venable, Paysafe Merchant Services Corporation hired Paul Hastings, the Washington CannaBusiness Association hired the Thompson Consulting Group and the Veterans Cannabis Project hired Federal Advocates. Cannabis companies such as Canndescent and Weedmaps retain lobbyists, too.
BMO ADDS ERIS GROUP: BMO Financial Corp. has hired Doyle Bartlettand Travis Johnson of the Eris Group to lobby on Dodd-Frank, according to a disclosure filing. The Eris Group will be the Canadian bank’s only Washington lobbying firm aside from Steptoe & Johnson, which lobbies for the bank but reported no activity in the first quarter. BMO was a client of the Podesta Groupbefore the firm disintegrated last year.
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WHO LOBBIES FOR STARBUCKS: Starbucks stores across the country are closed this afternoon for racial-bias training after the wrongful arrest of two black men last month at a location in Philadelphia. Who represents Starbucks in Washington, you ask? Starbucks spent $880,000 on Washington lobbying last year, although the company has just one registered lobbyist. Starbucks also retains K&L Gates, McGuireWoods Consulting, Monument Policy Group and the Petrizzo Group.
WHAT JEFF MILLER’S UP TO: The Associated Press’ Matthew Daly and Richard Lardner take a look at the lobbying business that Jeff Miller of Miller Strategies (not to be confused with the former congressman of the same name who’s a lobbyist for McDermott Will & Emery) has built since arriving in Washington last year. Miller is close to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Marty Obst, an adviser to Vice PresidentMike Pence. One of his clients is “FirstEnergy Solutions, a bankrupt power company that relies on coal and nuclear energy to produce electricity. His assignment: push the Trump administration to use a so-called 202 order — named for a provision of the Federal Power Act — to secure a bailout worth billions of dollars.” President Donald Trump mentioned 202 orders at a rally last month in West Virginia the night after he dined with Miller. Full story.
SEAN SPICER STARTS CONSULTING FIRM: From Playbook’s afternoon edition: Sean Spicer “has launched RIGWIL LLC, a strategic consulting firm that is focused on advising corporate and trade association executives. The former White House press secretary recently hired Kay Foley as his chief of staff. Spicer said he does not plan to lobby. He also declined to comment on specific clients he is representing.”
AFL-CIO LAUNCHES SIX-FIGURE AD BUY IN LIGHT OF JANUS CASE: The AFL-CIO launched a six-figure national ad buy today in light of a forthcoming Supreme Court decision that is expected to shrink public-sector unions. (The case Janus v. AFSCME asks whether unions that represent government employees may collect fees from non-union employees to cover the cost of collective bargaining.) The print ads, which will run in USA Today, The Washington Post and newspapers in nine states, feature an open letter from the labor federation’s President Richard Trumka warning that “a dark web of corporate interests is trying to stop us with everything it has … but not matter what any CEO or lobbyist does, we’re standing for the freedom to join together in a union.”
— In addition to the print ads, the AFL-CIO is also running digital ads and has launched a website about the case. Josh Goldstein, an AFL-CIO spokesman, told PI that the print and digital ads will run into next week and that the “digital ones will likely continue through the decision.”
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PORK LOBBY PRESSES TRUMP ON CHINA TARIFFS: “The U.S. pork industry on Tuesday called for a swift resolution of a trade dispute with China, saying that is costing producers billions of dollars in lost profits,” POLITICO’s Doug Palmer reports. Jim Heimerl, an Ohio pig farmer who serves as president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in a statement that the trade group hopes “the next round of trade talks with China results in improved market access to a critical export market for U.S. pork and other farm products.” Full story.
IF YOU MISSED IT: “Corey Lewandowski is advising T-Mobile on how to win approval for its proposed merger with Sprint, according to the company,”POLITICO’s Theodoric Meyer and Margaret Harding McGill report. “Lewandowski is advising T-Mobile through Turnberry Solutions, a lobbying firm started last year by two fellow veterans of President Donald Trump’s campaign, which Lewandowski managed before being fired. T-Mobile hired Turnberry last year, but Lewandowski has denied any connection to the firm in the past. ‘I have nothing to do with Turnberry Solutions,’ he told POLITICO in September.
— “But T-Mobile said on Friday that Lewandowski was advising the firm on the proposed merger as part of its work with Turnberry. ‘Corey Lewandowski is now affiliated with that firm and they have offered perspective to T-Mobile on a variety of topics, including the pending transaction,’ T-Mobile said in a statement. The arrangement was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. … Jason Osborne, a Turnberry lobbyist, said in an interview that Lewandowski was acting as an ‘unpaid strategic adviser’ to the firm and had never lobbied for its clients. ‘Corey Lewandowski has never gotten any money from Turnberry Solutions,’ Osborne said. ‘He is not a paid employee of the firm.’” Full story.
IF YOU MISSED IT, PART TWO: Joe Grogan, an OMB official who will help shape the administration’s drug price plan, “didn’t obtain a waiver from a directive Trump issued during his first week in office that imposed a two-year cooling-off period between lobbying and regulating on the same ‘specific issue area,’” POLITICO’s David Pittman reports. “Grogan worked as the top lobbyist for Gilead Sciences until he arrived at OMB last March, dealing with issues including how much federal health programs would pay for its medicines.
— “Gilead was the company that in 2014 effectively set off the drug price controversy with Sovaldi, its breakthrough hepatitis C cure that cost $1,000 per pill and triggered a lengthy and highly critical Senate Finance Committee probe.” POLITICO reported last year that several former lobbyists working in the administration officials hadn’t obtained ethics waivers despite holding jobs that would be hard to do without them. Full story.
— Kevin Roy will become chief public policy officer for Shatterproof. He is now executive vice president of advocacy at Autism Speaks.
NEW JOINT FUNDRAISERS:
Bucshon Victory Committee (Rep. Larry Bucshon, HeartDocPAC, NRCC)
Women’s Wave Illinois 2018 (Lauren Underwood, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan)
A Hopeful America (Super PAC)
Asian Americans Against Trumpism (Super PAC)
Defeat the Incumbent Super PAC (PAC)
Go South Jersey
People Over Politics (Super PAC)
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS:
Cove Strategies: Seasonal Employment Alliance
Epplin Strategic Planning: Van Heuvelen Strategies on behalf of Trestle Energy
Eris Group (formerly known as Bartlett & Bendall): BMO Financial Corp.
Ernst & Young LLP (Washington Council Ernst & Young): Hunt Companies Business Services LLC
Farragut Partners LLP: Hydromine Inc.
Navigators Global LLC (Formerly DC Navigators LLC): First Data Corporation
The Smith-Free Group: Surterra Holdings Inc.
NEW LOBBYING TERMINATIONS:
American Atheists: American Atheists
B+S Strategies: Sempra Energy
The Diamond Group: The National Biodiesel Board
** A message from the National Confectioners Association – #AlwaysATreat: We’ve always created transparent, fun, and great-tasting treats. By 2022, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Russell Stover, and Ferrara Candy Company will work together to make half of their individually wrapped products available in sizes that contain 200 calories or less per pack. And, 90 percent of the best-selling treats made by these companies will have calorie information printed right on the front of the pack. Our digital hub, AlwaysATreat.com will continue to evolve into a digital resource full of easy-to-use information for consumers to better understand the unique role that chocolate and candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle. Learn more at AlwaysATreat.com. **
Original Article: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-influence/2018/05/29/cannabis-lobbying-continues-272627