With help from Caitlin Emma and Daniel Lippman
A NEW UFO LOBBYIST HITS THE SCENE: As calls in Congress for continued UFO research and disclosures from the federal government grow louder, a new group aims to harness and legitimize grassroots pressure from outside the halls of power to do the same. The effort is being led by Nick Gold, a Baltimore-based media and tech consultant who has worked with the Galileo Project, a Harvard-affiliated project searching for evidence of aliens, and the think tank Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies.
— Gold registered to lobby last week on behalf of Declassify UAP, which Gold said in an interview he hopes will bring the issue of UFO advocacy into the mainstream by tapping into traditional political grassroots strategies.
— “As I’ve been kind of involved with some of these more scientific approaches looking into the topic, I really started to perceive a hole in how this topic is kind of handled in our society,” he told PI.
— Part of that, he conceded, can be attributed to “a lot of strong and sometimes strange personalities that kind of suck a lot of the air out of the UFO/UAP issue.” But, Gold argued, there also hasn’t been enough coordination among the “millions of people who were very fascinated with this topic and wanted to see some kind of governmental congressional progress around it.”
— “It never really transformed in 75 years of this being a public issue into an actual quote-unquote issue that we address as citizens in the way through our representatives and our democracy and our government and the way that we attack other issues,” Gold added, arguing that for nearly every other policy issue imaginable, the launch of a group like his would typically be a no-brainer. For now, Declassify UAP is structured as an LLC, with Gold putting up all of the funding himself and mulling merch sales or support from interested donors down the line.
— Declassify UAP will aim to bridge that gap, by serving as a repository for various resources on the issue, from congressional testimony to recent government reports and presentations as well as information about relevant pending legislation and a voter engagement platform to send letters to lawmakers. Ideally, Gold said, that will create a nonpartisan grassroots army of “informed UFO-interested citizen[s]” — rather than just UFO enthusiasts, he said, which would then offer political cover for lawmakers pursuing the issue in Congress.
— “If there is a hump there, it’s hard to imagine us going over the hump without … a much louder and clearer and more unified and very specifically articulated way of coming together to make these asks,” he said.
— That’s why the group’s advocacy will be narrowly focused on “reasonable” set of declassifications from what is presumed to be classified information about UFOs, Gold said, which would pave the way for “real scientific progress” that’s currently hindered by a lack of funding, while trying to avoid alienating policymakers. “We need to be very open-minded, and simultaneously, we need to be very discerning,” he said.
Happy Monday and welcome to PI. I’ll be off through next Tuesday, but you’ll be in the very capable hands of Hailey Fuchs (for the rest of this week) and Megan Wilson (next Monday and Tuesday). Send them lobbying tips: [email protected] and [email protected]. And send me LA recs: [email protected]. And be sure to follow us all on the platform formerly known as Twitter: @Hailey_Fuchs, @misswilson and @caitlinoprysko.
TRUMP BUDGET ALUM LAUNCHES THINK TANK: Former Trump budget aide Paul Winfree is launching his own economic think tank, just as Republicans gear up for a government funding fight this fall.
— The right-leaning organization, called the Economic Policy Innovation Center, or EPIC, will focus on the country’s long-term fiscal picture, advising GOP presidential candidates and educating members of Congress about basic fiscal issues and Republican priorities, with an emphasis on the federal budget and annual spending bills.
— Winfree, who has overseen economic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said GOP presidential campaigns and newish Republican members have so far been eager to learn about curbing federal spending and major upcoming fiscal fights, like the expiration of Trump tax cuts and another debt ceiling deadline in 2025.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE: “Long before the National Rifle Association tightened its grip on Congress, won over the Supreme Court and prescribed more guns as a solution to gun violence — before all that, Representative John D. Dingell Jr. had a plan,” The New York Times’ Mike McIntire writes in a deep dive on how members of Congress like Dingell, who simultaneously sat on the NRA’s board of directors, helped shape the gun rights group — and by extension the gun rights movement — into the political force that it is today.
— The late congressmember “was one of at least nine senators and representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, with the same dual role over the last half-century — lawmaker-directors who helped the N.R.A. accumulate and exercise unrivaled power.”
— “Their actions are documented in thousands of pages of records obtained by The New York Times, through a search of lawmakers’ official archives, the papers of other N.R.A. directors and court cases. The files, many of them only recently made public, reveal a secret history of how the nation got to where it is now.”
— McIntire notes that these lawmakers were “far from the stereotype of pliable politicians meekly accepting talking points from lobbyists” and “served as leaders of the N.R.A., often prodding it to action. At seemingly every hint of a legislative threat, they stepped up, the documents show, helping erect a firewall that impedes gun control today.”
UNDER THE HOOD OF NEVER BACK DOWN: “Never Back Down, the outside group spending heavily to make Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis president, has raked in donations of $1 million or more from at least seven wealthy Republican benefactors or their companies, according to internal documents from the group,” The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer and Maeve Reston report. “It had nearly $97 million in cash-on-hand at the end of June.”
— “The super PAC’s fundraising haul includes millions of dollars from former supporters of Donald Trump who publicly cut ties after the 2021 U.S. Capitol riots, including Nevada hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, who gave more than $20 million, and Silicon Valley investor Douglas M. Leone, who gave $2 million. The two biggest donors in Republican politics during the 2022 midterm cycle, packaging magnates Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, also gave $1 million each.”
— Other nuggets from the super PAC’s as-yet-unfiled report, per the Post: Officials for the super PAC are seeking to limit its vendors’ profit margins, and DeSantis adviser Jeff Roe’s Axiom Strategies was paid $16.4 million, which CEO Chris Jankowski said “included $14.8 million worth of media buys” with a 1.75 percent commission for media placement. The firm “had a net loss for its work with the group in the current reporting period,” though, as a result of a $409,000 in-kind donation the super PAC will report from Axiom due to Roe’s initial contract with the super PAC.
— “Faithful & Strong Policies Inc., a group that matches the name of a nonprofit social-welfare organization that was founded last year in Florida,” donated $5.5 million to the super PAC, its filing will show. “A website for a group of the same name describes Faithful & Strong as an operation accepting donations that is ‘committed to promoting and supporting conservative policies and ideas rooted in freedom and our founding principles that better the lives of individuals and families.’”
— Faith Lutat is now vice president of member relations for Independent Community Bankers of America, leading the Northeast region. She was previously director of enterprise relationship management at Fiserv.
— Koren Wong-Ervin is joining Jones Day as a partner in the antitrust and competition law practice. She previously was a partner at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider.
— Kahaari Kenyatta, who was a director at Waxman Strategies lobbying on health care reimbursement policy and public health issues, is leaving the firm to begin law school.
— Jeffrey Cottle is now a partner at Eversheds Sutherland. He previously was a partner at Brown Rudnick.
Landsman McGarvey Victory Fund (Reps. Greg Landsman, Morgan McGarvey)
AMERICAN PATRIOT ACTION PAC (Super PAC)
Arizona First PAC Inc. (Super PAC)
Beam On Progress (Super PAC)
Chesa Boudin Recall Legacy PAC (Super PAC)
Committee for Secure Communities (Super PAC)
Conservative Action For California (Super PAC)
Kevin McCarthy is a Pussy PAC (PAC)
ONE AMERICA, INC. (Super PAC)
Commonwealth Research Associates, LLC: Texas Central Partners, LLC
Fiber Broadband Association: Fiber Broadband Association
Infinera Corporation: Infinera Corporation
K. Black Strategies LLC: Aarp
Peter Damon Group LLC: State Federal Strategies On Behalf Of Heat And Frost Insulators (Lmct)
Peter Damon Group LLC: State Federal Strategies On Behalf Of Strata Clean Energy
Peter Damon Group LLC: State Federal Strategies On Behalf Of Tc Energy
The Raben Group: Resources For Resilience
John Napier: Care (Coalition For Auto Repair Equality)
The Mondello Group LLC: Nuhope
United States Cannabis Council: United States Cannabis Council
W&E Networks LLC: Bishop House Publishing, LLC