Kate Ackley

Checks and Balance: This summer's conventions may be a bit unconventional
Some lobbyists aren’t entirely convinced the show is worth the investment

ANALYSIS | The quadrennial political conventions, where the party faithful publicly coalesce in cheerleading for their respective White House picks, play a lesser-known role — as sleep-away camp for K Street.

Away from the convention’s main stage, K Streeters are booking concert halls, hotel ballrooms and chic restaurants in the host cities for brunches, receptions and late-night, booze-infused concerts to fete their favorite politicians and bring them together with the corporate clients they represent.

Trump campaign to deploy Cabinet secretaries, lawmakers, allies to Iowa
The effort creates potential ethical pitfalls for federal officials who face limits on political work

The Trump campaign says it will dispatch high-level government appointees to stump in Iowa ahead of the state’s Monday caucuses, setting up potential pitfalls for Cabinet secretaries and other officials bound by ethics restrictions on their politicking.

“This goes above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen when it comes to the White House deploying its resources on the campaign trail,” said Democratic consultant Jim Manley, once an aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Big business, tech, health care lead K Street spending in 2019
Spending was highest in fourth quarter as Congress passed budget bills and updated NAFTA

Big business, big tech and medical interests were K Street’s top players last year as those industries spent millions of dollars on federal lobbying in the final months of 2019, while lawmakers and the administration wrapped up spending and trade measures.

With the 2020 elections expected to consume lawmakers’ attention this summer and fall, lobbyists say they’re looking at a post-impeachment crunch on major 2020 priorities. Some clients already are gaming out a possible lame-duck session as well as a potentially revamped federal government in 2021.

K Street firms post big earnings gains for 2019
Trade, health care and immigration issues paced lobbying spending last year

K Street’s top-tier firms posted sizable gains last year, fueled by technology, pharmaceutical and big-business interests concerned with such policy matters as trade, health care, taxation and government spending.

And lobbyists say impeachment proceedings and the 2020 campaigns haven’t yet derailed the influence industry’s agenda this year.

Super PACs after 10 years: Often maligned but heavily used
Democrats may slam Citizens United, but they benefit from the PACs the decision unleashed

The reelection campaign of Rep. Angie Craig, a first-term Minnesota Democrat, kicked off 2020 with an email plea to supporters: “We’ve got to overturn Citizens United.”

Noting the 10 years since the pivotal Jan. 21, 2010, Supreme Court decision, which helped spur along super PACs, the Craig campaign urged people to show their allegiance to the cause by providing their email addresses. Later, would-be donors were asked to chip in money for her campaign, even just $15.  

Big business lobby to push trade, data, immigration in 2020
Despite impeachment, the chamber believes Congress and the Trump administration still may seek compromise on major matters

Noting the “extraordinary time” of political turmoil and impeachment running alongside the 2020 campaigns, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue nevertheless said his group, the top spender on federal lobbying, would push for a full agenda this year that includes free trade, data privacy and immigration overhaul.

Even with the expected legislative stalemate of a presidential election year, he said the chamber believed Congress and the Trump administration still may seek compromise on major matters, including funding for infrastructure projects.

Joel Jankowsky, longtime Akin Gump lobbyist, exits K Street

When Joel Jankowsky left Capitol Hill in 1977 to set up shop on K Street, his transition through the revolving door seems bizarre by the influence industry’s current norms: He lobbied both parties.

“The whole thing has changed so drastically,” Jankowsky said recently in his office at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a 42-year gig that he’s retiring from at year’s end.

The fix-up-Congress committee takes on a fresh agenda for 2020
With impeachment done, modernization panel looks at more civility and new technology

It’s almost like an alternate universe.

Fresh off the bitterly partisan and acrimonious House impeachment vote, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress approved a slate of recommendations Thursday including some aimed at boosting civility and bipartisanship in the legislative branch.  

The swamp successfully boils and bubbles in 2019
Lobbying clients took some losses, but corporate interests will end the year largely unscathed

K Street lobbying clients racked up some notable defeats this year: No return of earmarks. Drugmakers lost out in a new trade deal. And that mega-infrastructure package? Never happened.

But despite jitters over divided government and impeachment theatrics, corporate interests will exit year three of the Trump era largely unscathed, and some are downright giddy as they head into the potentially fraught 2020 campaign season.

Trade deal sparks divisions in K Street
Phramaceutical lobby says changes put 'politics over patients'

One of K Street’s top priorities, a revamped U.S. trade pact with Canada and Mexico, took a major step forward Tuesday, but not all sectors embraced the deal — potentially pitting big-spending organizations against one another.

Odd allies, including the labor group AFL-CIO and the business lobby U.S. Chamber of Commerce, offered support for a redo of the North American Free Trade Agreement, something that President Donald Trump initiated after pledging on the 2016 campaign trail he would replace the 1994 deal.

Never mind impeachment, this bipartisan committee is going forward
House modernization panel prepares for its second year

Amid the partisan polarization of impeachment, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress began examining possible changes Thursday to the chamber’s rules and procedures, seeking out ideas to make the legislative branch function better. 

The panel, a temporary and bipartisan project to revamp Congress for the modern era, is tasked with offering recommendations about how to update technological savvy on Capitol Hill and how to improve the quality of work for lawmakers and staff. It began earlier this year as a one-year effort but will now carry on through next year with a fresh infusion of funds and through the divisive 2020 elections.  

Amid impeachment, groups press for limits on foreign influence
Liberal groups urge overhaul of foreign lobbying rules

As foreign influence takes center stage in House impeachment proceedings, lawmakers, candidates, and outside groups are tossing around proposals to curb, or shed new light on, efforts from abroad to sway U.S. policy and elections.

Liberal-leaning groups, including Public Citizen, are prodding House Democrats to sign on to forthcoming legislation that would overhaul foreign lobbying regulations. The Center for American Progress on Thursday will unveil a set of proposals calling for new limits on the political contributions of companies that have significant foreign ownership.

Uncertain times could bring new lobbying strategies
Workarounds include deeper outreach to think tanks, academia and other institutions

ANALYSIS — It’s hard to imagine a more bonkers, unpredictable and politically toxic backdrop for K Street operators than the current one. But just wait until 2020 actually arrives. 

The presidential election year will hit lobbyists with potential risks all around. Candidates up and down the ballot will press proposals to remake the influence industry and to overhaul the nation’s campaign finance system. More candidates will reject K Street and business donations. The approaching elections, along with an expected impeachment trial early on, will turn Capitol Hill into an even bigger political mess.

House leaders give modernization panel more time
A second year of work ahead for committee that seeks to make Congress more efficient

Like most any fixer-upper endeavor, renovating Congress for the modern era will take at least a year longer than originally planned.

The House’s temporary Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is on track to get more time to finish its effort to update the legislative branch amid the increasing political polarization of the 2020 elections. The House Rules Committee approved a rule Wednesday extending the modernization panel through next year. The full chamber voted Thursday, making the extension official.

Some Democrats see political system overhaul as winning 2020 issue
Bill to revamp campaign finance and voting passed House early, then stalled in Senate

If Rep. Max Rose’s voters expected the freshman lawmaker from Staten Island, New York, to quiet down this election cycle about a major overhaul of the nation’s political system, they were mistaken.

It was a centerpiece of the Democrat’s campaign-trail mantra in 2018. And now, as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress, he’s not stopping. Neither are many of his similarly situated colleagues.

Senate budget writers offer up a revamped budget process
CQ Budget, Ep. 133

The Senate Budget Committee drafted legislation for an overhaul of the broken budget process that includes a move toward biennial budgets. But any change is still an uphill fight, as Paul M. Krawzak and Kate Ackley explain.

More companies publicly disclosing what they spend on politics, study finds
CPA-Zicklin Index measured the largest increase in companies with transparent policies

A rise in shareholder and consumer activism has prompted more companies to publicly disclose what they spend on politics.

Bruce Freed, president and co-founder of the Center for Political Accountability, said companies are doing it to insulate themselves from criticism at a time when politics has become more heated.

Amid troubles, Trump has huge cash advantage for 2020
But Democrats have already raised $700 million from small-dollar donors giving $200 or less

For all the drama surrounding President Donald Trump — an unfolding House impeachment probe, former aides in prison and his personal consigliere reportedly under federal investigation — there’s one worry he doesn’t face: money for his 2020 campaign.

The White House incumbent, who took the unprecedented step of opening his reelection coffers the same day he took the oath of office in 2017, recently reported holding more than $83 million for his next race. Trump has raised a total of $165 million so far. Plus, he’s helped haul in millions more for the Republican National Committee, which will help all GOP candidates get the vote out, while outside organizations allied with the president have amassed their own big bundles of political money.

Giuliani: I never lobbied or represented foreigners
Trump lawyer says scrutiny of his work represents a smear campaign against him

Rudy Giuliani has become a regular feature in President Donald Trump’s capital city, attracting scandal — and scrutiny from law enforcement — for his far-flung international endeavors. But unlike his most prominent White House client, Giuliani, who spent more than a dozen years with two well-known K Street firms, has deep ties to the influence industry.

The former New York mayor and onetime Republican presidential candidate logged a decade with the law and lobbying firm then known as Bracewell & Giuliani and a two-year stint after that with Greenberg Traurig, the professional home of notorious ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff before he went to prison.

Paul Ryan PAC provides seed money for new nonprofit group

Former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan unveiled new details Monday about his fledgling organization, the American Idea Foundation. Though the nonprofit organization won’t need to publicly disclose most of its donors, one is already known: Ryan’s own political coffers.

Prosperity Action, the Wisconsin Republican’s leadership PAC, transferred $1.6 million to the new group in installments in March, April and June of this year, federal election disclosures show. After those payments, Prosperity Action reported about $334,000 cash on hand. Leadership PACs offer lawmakers an additional way to raise money and support candidates.