With Daniel Lippman
The nonprofit organization overseeing the redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue has tapped a host of lobbyists at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to help the synagogue secure federal assistance for a new complex planned to be a sanctuary, museum and memorial honoring the victims of the 2018 mass shooting there.
— Brownstein’s David Reid, Marc Lampkin, David Cohen, Steven Demby, Nadeam Elshami, Brian McGuire, Brian Wild, Andrew Usyk, Sage Schaftel and Radha Mohan will work to identify federal resources and potential sources of funding to aid in the effort, which is the subject of a separate fundraising campaign to pay for the renovations and operate programming and outreach for the new center.
— The synagogue last year secured a $6.6 million commitment from the state of Pennsylvania to redevelop the site, which has been vacant since a gunman killed 11 worshippers and wounded six others in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. And the synagogue has tapped the architect Daniel Libeskind, who designed the master plan for redeveloping the World Trade Center following 9/11 and who has designed other Jewish museums and Holocaust memorials.
— “Our community’s resilience in the face of a hate-fueled massacre has given root to a reimagined Tree of Life,” reads a website for the redevelopment. “Through remembrance, experience, and action, we educate and inspire individuals and communities from across our nation to recognize and stand up against antisemitism.”
FARA FRIDAY: Russia’s state-owned media agency is budgeting its most money yet for a D.C.-based production company that produces pro-Kremlin media content in the U.S., according to documents filed with the Justice Department this week, even as shows from Russian news agency and radio broadcaster Sputnikwere booted off of mainstream platforms in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
— Rossiya Segodnya, the state media group that controls Sputnik, renewed its contract this week with Ghebi LLC, which has been paid nearly $5 million since 2020 to produce radio and web content targeted at the U.S. and Canada.
— According to copies of Rossiya Segodnya’s previous contracts with Ghebi filed with DOJ, Ghebi’s $7 million budget for the next 12 months is its largest yet. Its initial contract had a budget of $5.2 million, while the contract renewed last September stipulated that Ghebi could spend no more than $6.7 million to produce content.
— The limits set out in those contracts are far more than what Rossiya Segodnya has actually paid Ghebi for its work, DOJ filings show. In the six months ending on March 31 — a period that included Russia’s build-up of troops along the Ukrainian border as well as its February invasion and the ensuing global backlash — Ghebi reported close to $2 million in payments from Rossiya Segodnya.
— That’s $76,000 more than in the previous six months, and all of that spending is more than double the $825,000 Ghebi reported receiving from Rossiya Segodnya during the first six months of its contract.
SINEMA BLESSES BILL AFTER TAX TWEAKS: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced last night that he expects every Senate Democrat to vote for the party’s expanded reconciliation bill, after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) demanded changes to its revenue stream that the business community had complained about.
— Sinema sought the removal of language tightening the so-called carried interest loophole, and she also won changes “to portions of the corporate minimum tax structure to remove accelerated depreciation of investments from the agreement,” POLITICO’s Burgess Everett reports.
— That won Sinema tepid praise from trade groups that had lobbied against the corporate minimum tax’s impact on manufacturers. “Taxing capital expenditures — investments in new buildings, factories, equipment, etc. — is one of the most economically destructive ways you can raise taxes,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Neil Bradley said in a statement, adding that Sinema “deserves credit for recognizing this and fighting for changes.”
— Bradley still took aim at the tax added to the bill to recoup the cost of watering down the book tax and removing the carried interest provision, a levy on stock buybacks, which Bradley argued would “only distort the efficient movement of capital to where it can be put to best use and will diminish the value of Americans’ retirement savings.”
— Bradley, along with the National Association of Manufacturers’ Jay Timmons both said in statements that their organizations are still reviewing the bill, but continued to bash its drug pricing measures. “We remain skeptical,” Timmons said.
— The Small Business Investor Alliance, which represents lower-middle market private equity funds and investors, cheered the removal of language targeting the private equity industry’s prized carried interest tax rate, though Sinema vowed to work on the issue outside of the current bill. “We are very thankful that she went beyond the headlines and listened to our concerns about the disproportionate negative impact on small business investors that changing carried interest would entail,” SBIA President Brett Palmer said of Sinema. “Arizona small businesses have a great champion.”
PHRMA THREATENS PAYBACK: “Steve Ubl, who leads the nation’s top industry group for drugmakers, is offering a final salvo to Congress as Democratic lawmakers inch closer to passing their sweeping reconciliation package that includes drug pricing measures — and threatening swift retaliation if they don’t listen,” he told POLITICO’s Megan Wilson.
— PhRMA and its 31 board members “sent a letter to every member of Congress on Thursday afternoon, urging them to vote against the package. PhRMA, not accustomed to losing legislative fights, has waged a multimillion-dollar advocacy campaign against the drug pricing measures, and is crafting contingency plans if they fail.”
— “In addition to hinting at running campaign ads against Democrats in tough races this fall, the industry is assessing its legal options and pondering future regulatory or legislative fixes. ‘Regardless of the outcome in the coming weeks, this fight isn’t over,’ Ubl said in an interview. ‘Few associations have all the tools of modern political advocacy at their disposal in the way that PhRMA does.’”
MIXED SIGNALS: Even as the Business Roundtable signed on to a letter yesterday imploring senators to knock out the reconciliation bill’s corporate minimum tax and decrying the legislation’s potential impact on manufacturers, one of the group’s top leaders was participating in a virtual roundtable with President Joe Biden where she endorsed the bill as-is.
— Thursday was not the first time General Motors CEO Mary Barra has split from the business lobby she helps lead, as Hailey Fuchs explored earlier this year, nor is it the first time the Biden administration has held her up as an ally of legislation reviled by the business community. “You started all this,” the president told Barra during the roundtable.
— “Thank you for the opportunity to voice our support for the Inflation Reduction Act,” Barra told Biden during the event. Barra took over at the beginning of the year as chair of the Business Roundtable, whose membership comprises the chief executives of the country’s largest corporations.
— A day after Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced the framework for the bill, the Roundtable said on Twitter that the book tax, which is being revised to the benefit of manufacturers at Sinema’s behest, would “undermine proven bipartisan incentives that encourage capital investment.”
— Barra didn’t address the bill’s tax provisions explicitly from the White House’s roundtable. But “as currently proposed,” she said, the measure would “help drive further investments in American manufacturing and sustainable, stable and secure supply chains.”
THE NRA’S SUPREME COURT SHADOW LOBBYING: In a piece for POLITICO Magazine this morning, The Trace’s Will Van Sant examined amicus briefs filed in support of the Supreme Court caseNew York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which resulted in a June ruling dramatically expanding access to guns across the nation.
— Out of the 49 pro-NRA “friend of the court” briefs filed in the case, Van Sant found “the NRA has given financial support to at least 12 of the groups and individuals who lobbied the court on its behalf.”
— “Though a full accounting is impossible, some recipients collected several million dollars from the NRA during that period and before filing briefs in Bruen. Only one of those 12 briefs disclosed the connection, meaning that neither the justices nor the public were told that 11 of these ostensibly independent voices owed their livelihoods in part to the NRA, the interest group behind the case.”
— “The amicus briefs in Bruen provide a window into the NRA’s long-standing legal strategy — how the organization has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past few decades constructing an advocacy network of lawyers and institutions capable of identifying, supporting and advancing cases likely to weaken gun restrictions. But the briefs also demonstrate the limits of current Supreme Court ethics rules.”
— Kyle Christian will join the University of Kansas as associate vice chancellor for federal relations. He joins from Thermo Fisher Scientific, where he helped lead federal government engagement.
— Harout Harry Semerdjian is now government relations officer for the Port of Long Beach. He was director for global trade and foreign investments for the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce.
— Becky Tallent is now vice president and head of government affairs at Anywhere Real Estate. She was senior director of U.S. government relations at Dropbox and is a John Boehner and John McCain alum.
— Joey Nelson is now a regional director for external affairs for AT&T. He was triangle regional representative for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
— Joan Vollero has been promoted to be senior vice president at communications consulting firm Prosek Partners, where she focuses on special situations, including crisis and litigation support for class-and mass-action matters.
— Chris Hayward has joined Citi’s global public affairs team, where he will continue in his role as the bank’s head of change management. Jennifer Lowney is now in an expanded role as Citi’s global head of communications. Separately, Gawain Patterson was elevated to the title of director of strategic initiatives and Lloyd Brown II is the bank’s new Community Reinvestment Act officer.
— Jaymi Light is now U.S. federal government relations strategist at SAS. She was a government affairs principal at Cigna and is a Todd Young alum.
— Jay Jariwala is joining Sidley Austin LLP as senior director of regulatory compliance for the food, drug, and medical device compliance and enforcement practice. He was a team leader/combination products subject matter expert at the FDA.
— Madison West is now senior director of global corporate responsibility at Intel. She was vice president for ESG at government contractor Maximus.
Illinois Colorado 2022 Victory Fund (Sens. Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Joe Neguse, Nikki for Congress)
Kirkmeyer Victory Committee (Kirkmeyer for Congress, Colorado Republican Committee, NRCC)
Laxalt Victory Fund (Laxalt for Senate, Nevada Republican Central Committee, NRSC)
Our Guy’s Victory Fund (Coach Guy’s Leadership PAC, Our Guy for Congress)
Pekau Victory Fund (Illinois Republican Party – Federal, NRCC, Pekau for Congress)
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP: Tree Of Life
Ednexus Advisors, LLC: Mursion
Watershed Results LLC: Conservation International
Watkins & Eager Pllc: Fleet Morris Petroleum, Inc.
American Defense International Inc.: Sensonor
K&L Gates, LLP: Alternative Investment Management Association Limited
Lucas | Compton (Formerly Known As The Lucas Firm, LLC): Freeman Health System
University Of Southern California: University Of Southern California