POLITICO Influence

From Politico

POLITICO Influence: Levi Strauss hires Akin Gump to lobby on NAFTA — Glover Park Group hires Poe’s chief of staff — Wine industry blasts new China tariffs

By Theodoric Meyer and Marianne LeVin With David Beavers and Garrett Ross

NEW BUSINESS: Levi Strauss has hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to lobby on trade issues, including the ongoing NAFTA negotiations. Rio Tinto, the mining behemoth, has hired Ernst & Young to lobby on international tax provisions in the GOP tax law. Paul Brathwaite's Federal Street Strategies has signed two new clients: Amazon (which the company had confirmed last week) and Wells Fargo. Brathwaite previously lobbied for Wells Fargo when he was a principal at the Podesta Group. Subject Matter has added two new clients as well: New York Life and the Marketplace Lending Association , which represents lenders such as Lending Club and Prosper. And Miller Strategies has signed five new clients, including Charles Schwab and Fresenius Medical Care.

BROWNSTEIN ADDS JUSTICE DEPARTMENT VETERAN: Congressional staffers leave for K Street all the time. Greg Brower, who starts at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck today, is coming from a less common source of recruits: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Brower was previously the FBI's assistant director of congressional affairs, where he worked on getting Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorized, among other issues. He's also served as a U.S. attorney in Nevada and worked for the Justice Department in Washington during George W. Bush 's administration. He'll do a mixture of lobbying and litigation work at Brownstein and will split his time between Brownstein's offices in Washington, Las Vegas and Reno, Nev., he said in an interview.

GLOVER PARK GROUP HIRES POE'S CHIEF OF STAFF: The Glover Park Group has nabbed Gina Foote, who's spent the past seven years on the Hill as chief of staff for Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas.) She'll be a vice president in the government relations division. Foote isn't new to K Street, though. She worked as associate general counsel at BGR Group before joining Poe's office.

Good afternoon, and welcome to PI. Congress is still out, but we'll be here all week. (Next week is another story.) Send us your tips, please: mlevine@politico.com and tmeyer@politico.com. You can also follow us on Twitter: @theodoricmeyer and @marianne_levine

WINE INDUSTRY BLASTS NEW CHINA TARIFFS: Add wine to the list of industries unhappy with China's latest retaliatory tariffs. China's Ministry of Commerce said Monday that it will impose an additional 15 percent tariff on wine imports from the United States. "We are an unfortunate bystander," Charles Jefferson, vice president of federal and international policy for the Wine Institute, which represents the California wine industry. He said that in response to the tariffs, the group will continue talking to the administration and to Capitol Hill about "the concerns we have and the challenges we face." 

- American winemakers will also reach out to the Chinese government to communicate the negative effect the tariffs will have on Chinese wine consumers. "Not only do we have this additional tariff being placed on our product, but at the same time we're seeing foreign competitors that have greater access," he said, citing producers in Argentina and Chile among the greatest competitors. 

L'AFFAIRE PRUITT: "The Environmental Protection Agency signed off last March on a Canadian energy company's pipeline-expansion plan at the same time that the E.P.A. chief, Scott Pruitt, was renting a condominium linked to the energy company's powerful Washington lobbying firm," The New York Times' Eric Lipton reports. (The company is Enbridge, which currently retains half a dozen lobbying firms.) "Both the E.P.A. and the lobbying firm dispute that there was any connection between the agency's action and the condo rental, for which Mr. Pruitt was paying $50 a night. 'Any attempt to draw that link is patently false," Liz Bowman , a spokeswoman for Mr. Pruitt, said in a written statement."

- "Nevertheless, government ethics experts said that the correlation between the E.P.A.'s action and Mr. Pruitt's lease arrangement - he was renting from the wife of the head of the lobbying firm Williams & Jensen - illustrates why such ties to industry players can generate questions for public officials: Even if no specific favors were asked for or granted, it can create an appearance of a conflict. 'Entering into this arrangement causes a reasonable person to question the integrity of the E.P.A. decision,' said Don Fox, who served as general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics during parts of the Obama and George W. Bush administrations." Full story.


HUSCH BLACKWELL EXPANDS IN TEXAS: Husch Blackwell Strategies, the new firm formed by Husch Blackwell's merger with Andy Blunt's Statehouse Strategies and Gregg Hartley's Cloakroom Advisors, is adding two lobbyists in Texas: Mark Vane, based in Austin, and Mike Stafford, based in Houston. 


HBCU LOBBY: WORKING WITH TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS PAID OFF: "The president of a group representing the nation's public historically black colleges and universities says working with the Trump administration is paying off, although the administration has had a rocky relationship with some HBCUs," POLITICO's Benjamin Wermund reports. "Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund , wrote in a statement Tuesday that the group's decision 'not to resist, but instead engage in a strategic way and bipartisan fashion on behalf of our nearly 300,000 HBCU students who need a voice in Congress and with the Trump Administration has borne fruit at many levels.' Williams touted recent actions by both the Trump administration and Congress to boost support for HBCUs," including the Education Department's recent decision to forgive $300 million in loans. Full story.

JOBS REPORT

- Peter Roberson has joined Charles Schwab's Washington office as vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs. He was previously a lobbyist for the Intercontinental Exchange.

- Jeffrey J. Kimbell & Associates has hired Caroline Tucker as a manager of health policy and reimbursement strategy. She previously worked for the McManus Group.

- Nathan Smith is joining Civitas Public Affairs Group as a senior associate. He was previously a director of public policy at GLSEN, an advocacy group that works on LGBTQ issues in education.

- Pfizer has promoted Josh Brown to national vice president for U.S. government relations. He was previously a senior director at Pfizer and will remain based in New York.

IF YOU NEED A JOB: ROKK Solutions is hunting for a senior vice president.