With Daniel Lippman
VITTER, MOFFETT SIGN LIBYAN OIL COMPANY: Libya’s state-owned oil company has hired former Sen. David Vitter and former Rep. Toby Moffett of Mercury Public Affairs as the National Oil Corporation seeks to reassure foreign partners about its production abilities following years of political tension and upheaval. The contract is good for just a little over a month, according to a copy filed with the Justice Department over the weekend, and is worth $30,000.
— Vitter, whose home state has a bustling oil and gas industry, and Moffett, who chaired a House subcommittee on the environment while in Congress, will be doing “some basic, preparatory work to develop discussions and cooperation” between NOC chair Farhat Bengdara and the U.S. government, Vitter said in an email.
— “It’s very exciting that Libya has so much additional energy and related potential, and we see the Biden administration and Republican and Democratic policymakers on Capitol Hill genuinely excited about this,” he added.
— Mercury and Vitter are no strangers to lobbying on the Libya conflict between rival governing factions that had been raging for years. The firm did work for Libya’s government back in 2019, prior to a 2020 ceasefire.
— NOC has been drawn into the middle of those fights, with militia groups occasionally disrupting oil production for months at a time. Last year, those disruptions coincided with European efforts to reduce reliance on Russian gas in response to its invasion of Ukraine, but at the end of the year the company said it had dramatically boosted production and sought to lure foreign investors back to Libya with security reassurances.
— In January, NOC signed an $8 billion deal with the Italian energy company Eni to supply gas to Europe, an agreement that drew praise from The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board but that a rival government in Libya claimed is illegal.
— NOC also has a presence in the U.S. after opening what it said was the company’s first international office in Houston in 2019. The company called the branch “vital” to National Oil Corporation’s attempts to modernize, rebuild and redevelop Libya’s oil and gas sector and its goals to turbocharge production.
Welcome to March and welcome to PI. Send your best lobbying gossip: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.
FIRST IN PI: The trade group representing the securities industry in Washington has added a bipartisan pair of lobbyists, including a Republican close with senior House Financial Services member Blaine Luetkemeyer. Lucas West will be a vice president of government affairs at SIFMA along with Courtney Ryan.
— West worked for Luetkemeyer for almost a decade, most recently serving as a senior financial services policy adviser to the Missouri Republican, who now chairs the Financial Services national security subcommittee.
— Ryan was most recently director of advocacy at the Credit Union National Association and before that served as deputy executive director and finance director for House Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with House Democrats, and one of its affiliates, House Majority Forward.
BUSY GUY: “Even by the flexible standards of Washington’s hired legal guns, Abbe Lowell’s most recent move was striking. After representing Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and developing close ties inside the Trump White House, Mr. Lowell, one of the capital’s best-known scandal lawyers, is now representing a favorite target of former President Donald J. Trump,” The New York Times’ Ken Vogel, Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt write: Hunter Biden.
— “Mr. Lowell’s new role in helping steer Mr. Biden through Republican congressional investigations has stirred unease and dissent in the Biden camp, where some questioned his recent work for the Trump family and worried that his aggressive tactics could backfire.”
— “It has also brought new attention to legal and ethics issues raised by the Justice Department and a client about Mr. Lowell in recent years. And his re-emergence in Democratic circles after a turn in Mr. Trump’s orbit highlights how Washington’s scandal-industrial complex can blur the lines between legal representation, access to power and self-promotion.”
— “It is not unusual for top-tier Washington lawyers to represent clients on both sides of the aisle in high-profile Justice Department and congressional investigations, and Mr. Lowell has represented a long roster of prominent Democrats and Republicans. But Mr. Lowell’s proximity to the Oval Office of two successive — and irreconcilably hostile — White Houses from differing parties stands out.”
WHAT ELSE UKRAINE LOBBYISTS ARE DOING: “Some of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists are providing their services to Ukraine for free — but at the same time, they are taking in millions in fees from Pentagon contractors who stand to benefit from the country’s war with Russia,” the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’s Eli Clifton and Ben Freeman write for The Guardian.
— “Following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s internationally condemned decision to invade Ukraine there was an outpouring of support to the besieged nation from seemingly every industry in America. But, arguably, one of the most crucial industries coming to Ukraine’s aid has been Washington’s powerful lobbying industry.”
— “The invasion has led some of the lobbying industry’s biggest players to do the unthinkable — lobby for free. While the influence industry may have altruistic reasons for representing Ukraine pro bono, some lobbying firms also have financial incentives for aiding Ukraine: they’ve made millions lobbying for arms manufacturers that could profit from the war.”
BEHIND LEO’S LAVISH LIFESTYLE: “A network of political nonprofits formed by judicial activist Leonard Leo moved at least $43 million to a new firm he is leading, raising questions about how his conservative legal movement is funded,” our Heidi Przybyla reports.
— “Leo’s own personal wealth appeared to have ballooned as his fundraising prowess accelerated since his efforts to cement the Supreme Court’s conservative majority helped to bring about its decision to overturn abortion rights. Most recently, Leo reaped a $1.6 billion windfall from a single donor in what is likely the biggest single political gift in U.S. history.”
— “Fundraising reports for 2022 have yet to be filed but spending by Leo’s aligned nonprofits on his for-profit business in 2020 and 2021 demonstrates the extent to which his money-raising benefited his own bottom line. And it shows how campaign-style politics — and the generous paydays that go along with it — are now adjacent to the Supreme Court, the one U.S. institution that’s supposed to be immune to it.”
— “A POLITICO investigation based on dozens of financial, property and public records dating from 2000 to 2021 found that Leo’s lifestyle took a lavish turn beginning in 2016, the year he was tapped as an unpaid adviser to incoming President Donald Trump on Supreme Court justices. It’s the same period during which he erected a for-profit ecosystem around his longtime nonprofit empire that is shielded from taxes. Leo was executive vice president of The Federalist Society at the time.”
— “The for-profit and nonprofit entities share more than just Leo’s involvement: The same longtime ally managing the books for two of his new leading nonprofits, Neil Corkery, is also chief financial officer of Leo’s for-profit company, POLITICO confirmed in IRS filings. One of those nonprofits paid the for-profit $33.8 million over two years.”
ANNALS OF BIG MONEY: Guy Cecil is stepping down as chair and chief strategies at Priorities USA, one of the top outside groups on the left, after eight years in the role. Cecil joined the super PAC back in 2015, and will leave this month, triggering “a shift in leadership while plans for 2024 are taking shape for the constellation of entities expected to support Democrats up and down the ballot,” Haberman writes.
— Priorities “has been a key force in Democratic politics for over a decade, and during Mr. Cecil’s tenure, it became deeply involved in politics beyond presidential races. In the 2022 midterms, it spent heavily on digital ads.”
— “Allies of President Biden are assessing what the support from outside groups for Mr. Biden’s expected re-election campaign will look like. In 2020, officials involved with his campaign indicated that they wanted people to engage with Priorities USA,” but Puck’s Teddy Schleifer and Tara Palmeri reported in the fall that a Democratic super PAC changing of the guard might be in store for 2024 and that Cecil was expected to reduce his role.
SPOTTED at a fundraiser on Tuesday for the DCCC hosted by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), per a tipster: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Ed An of Google, Ashley Hayes of Charter Communications, Pete Filon of Comcast, Craig Obey of the American Psychiatric Association, Bob Powers of the Nuclear Energy Institute, Chad Kreikemeier of Boeing, Lee Friedman of NCTA — The Internet & Television Association, Karissa Willhite of Ogilvy Government Relations, Jeff Carroll and Lyndon Boozer of Capitol Counsel, Tim Robinson of Tiber Creek Group, Lisa Kountoupes of Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid, Laura McPherson of T-Mobile, Liam Fitzsimmons of Pallone’s office, Wayne Williams of Jeffries’ office, Mary Plasencia of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office and Syd Terry of Schakowsky’s office.
— And at a #FeroxTurnsFive party to break in Ferox Strategy’s new headquarters, per a tipster: Reps. Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.), Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif. ) and David Valadao (R-Calif.); Pete Wallace and William Dent of Viatris, Patrick Simmons of Decision Sciences, ShaShrina Thomas of Reynolds, Jessica Montoya of FoodCorps, Kim Hays and Brian McCullough of Intuit, Travis Gibbons and Rich Martinelli of Diageo, Paul Treadgold of EMD Serono, Stephanie Lester and Gabby Reardon of Gap, Sara Decker and Patrick Delaney of Walmart, Rosemary Garza and Zuraya Tapia-Hadley of TelevisaUnivision, Nicolette Glisson and Michael Dean of NCTA and Kelli Emerick and Kevin Richardson of Zebra.
— And at a welcome reception for new BGR vice presidents Steven Pfrang and Keaghan Ames, per a tipster: Reps. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) and Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Ryan Long of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office, Michael McAdams of House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s office, Nathan Anonick of Sen. John Boozman’s (R-Ark.) office, Rebecca Alcorn of Sen. Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) office, Emory Cox of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) office, Jeff Shockey of Raytheon, Stefanie Holland of Qualcomm, Dan Mattoon of Mattoon and Associates, Brett Loper of American Express, Randy Ross, Georgette Sierra, Kevin Parker and Althea Pieters of Credit Suisse, Mike Moran of Deutsche Bank, Liam Cardon of Nomura, Beth Zorc of the Institute of International Bankers, Kathy Kraninger of Solidus Labs, Scott Parsons of Delta Strategy Group, Joe McGowan of Novartis, Jim Carlisle of Bank of America, Joel Wood of TheCouncil of Insurance Agents & Brokers, Jackie Carney of Constellation Energy Generation, Phillips Hinch of ICSC, Samantha DeZur of BlackRock, Jason Goggins of Fidelity, Darin Guries of JPMorgan, and Haley Barbour, Bob Wood, Erskine Wells, Bill Viney, Andy Lewin and Dan Murphy of BGR Group.
— And at a reception for new members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee hosted by the Auto Care Association, CAR Coalition, MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers and the Specialty Equipment Market Association, per a tipster: Reps. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), John Joyce (R-Pa.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.), Thomas Tiffany (R-Wis.) and Randy Weber (R-Texas).
— Former USTR Michael Froman is now president at the Council on Foreign Relations. He most recently was vice chairman and president for strategic growth at Mastercard.
— Lindsay Harrison has been named office managing partner of Jenner & Block’s Washington office.
— Rachel Winer has been promoted to executive vice president of ROKK Solutions’ digital and paid media practice. She was most recently senior vice president of digital and paid media at ROKK.
— Allison Binney has joined PACE Companies as a partner advising tribal clients. She was most recently a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
— Ganesh Sitaraman will lead the newly launched Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator for Political Economy and Regulation at Vanderbilt University. Sitaraman is currently the New York alumni chancellor’s chair at Vanderbilt Law School and is an Elizabeth Warren alum.
— Quinnlan Huckeba is now head copywriter at Politicoin. She previously was a campaign copywriter at HSP Direct and is an RNC alum.
— Faegre Drinker has promoted Tricia Beckmann, Lauren Bloch, Megan Herber, Svetlana Lyapustina, Lee Mia Nagao and James Vergis to principals in the D.C. office.
— Kirsten Wing is now director of federal government affairs at the Healthcare Distribution Alliance. She previously was legislative director for former Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.).
— Emily Levin has been promoted to partner in Brunswick’s D.C. office. She was previously a director.
— The Insured Retirement Institute has promoted John Jennings to director of government and political affairs.
— Theo Merkel will join the Paragon Health Institute as director of its Private Health Reform Initiative and a senior research fellow. Merkel is a former special assistant to the president for economic policy at the National Economic Council in the White House and legislative director for former Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
— Owen McDonough is now a climate adviser with Chevron’s legislative and regulatory affairs team. He previously was director of federal relations at the American Petroleum Institute.
— Joe Goetz is now vice president at Patriot Fundraising LLC. He most recently was senior director of direct marketing at the NRCC.
— Katie Schoettler is now a public affairs director in Foley & Lardner’s government solutions practice group. She previously was senior adviser and communications director for Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
American Resilience (Super PAC)
Pro-Choice of America Fund (Super PAC)
Vision Americas LLC: Associated Energy Group, LLC (Aeg)
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP: Almo Corporation
Capitol Hill & Friends, LLC: Range 2.14 Corp.
Edgepoint, LLC: Wintec Arrowmaker
United By Interest, LLC.: Si Group Client Services (Fka Swisher)