Cannabis lobbying continues – POLITICO
With David Beavers and Garrett Ross
CANNABIS LOBBYING CONTINUES: The medical cannabis company Surterra Holdings has hired the Smith-Free Group to lobby on financial services and medical cannabis issues, according to a disclosure filing. It’s the latest registration in a burgeoning sub-niche of Washington lobbying, as both recreational and medical cannabis become bigger and bigger businesses in the states where they’re legal. (Surterra, which is based in Atlanta, says on its website that it produces a “beautifully refined, purified golden-hued cannabis oil, unlike any in the industry.”)
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— The National Cannabis Industry Association, which hired its first full-time lobbyist in 2014, spent $431,000 on Washington lobbying last year. And individual companies continue to hire their own lobbyists. Just this year, Uphold has hired former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) of Venable, Paysafe Merchant Services Corporation hired Paul Hastings, the Washington CannaBusiness Association hired the Thompson Consulting Group and the Veterans Cannabis Project hired Federal Advocates. Cannabis companies such as Canndescent and Weedmaps retain lobbyists, too.
BMO ADDS ERIS GROUP: BMO Financial Corp. has hired Doyle Bartlett and Travis Johnson of the Eris Group to lobby on Dodd-Frank, according to a disclosure filing. The Eris Group will be the Canadian bank’s only Washington lobbying firm aside from Steptoe & Johnson, which lobbies for the bank but reported no activity in the first quarter. BMO was a client of the Podesta Group before the firm disintegrated last year.
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WHO LOBBIES FOR STARBUCKS: Starbucks stores across the country are closed this afternoon for racial-bias training after the wrongful arrest of two black men last month at a location in Philadelphia. Who represents Starbucks in Washington, you ask? Starbucks spent $880,000 on Washington lobbying last year, although the company has just one registered lobbyist. Starbucks also retains K&L Gates, McGuireWoods Consulting, Monument Policy Group and the Petrizzo Group.
WHAT JEFF MILLER’S UP TO: The Associated Press’ Matthew Daly and Richard Lardner take a look at the lobbying business that Jeff Miller of Miller Strategies (not to be confused with the former congressman of the same name who’s a lobbyist for McDermott Will & Emery) has built since arriving in Washington last year. Miller is close to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Marty Obst, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. One of his clients is “FirstEnergy Solutions, a bankrupt power company that relies on coal and nuclear energy to produce electricity. His assignment: push the Trump administration to use a so-called 202 order — named for a provision of the Federal Power Act — to secure a bailout worth billions of dollars.” President Donald Trump mentioned 202 orders at a rally last month in West Virginia the night after he dined with Miller. Full story.
SEAN SPICER STARTS CONSULTING FIRM: From Playbook’s afternoon edition: Sean Spicer “has launched RIGWIL LLC, a strategic consulting firm that is focused on advising corporate and trade association executives. The former White House press secretary recently hired Kay Foley as his chief of staff. Spicer said he does not plan to lobby. He also declined to comment on specific clients he is representing.”
AFL-CIO LAUNCHES SIX-FIGURE AD BUY IN LIGHT OF JANUS CASE: The AFL-CIO launched a six-figure national ad buy today in light of a forthcoming Supreme Court decision that is expected to shrink public-sector unions. (The case Janus v. AFSCME asks whether unions that represent government employees may collect fees from non-union employees to cover the cost of collective bargaining.) The print ads, which will run in USA Today, The Washington Post and newspapers in nine states, feature an open letter from the labor federation’s President Richard Trumka warning that “a dark web of corporate interests is trying to stop us with everything it has … but not matter what any CEO or lobbyist does, we’re standing for the freedom to join together in a union.”
— In addition to the print ads, the AFL-CIO is also running digital ads and has launched a website about the case. Josh Goldstein, an AFL-CIO spokesman, told PI that the print and digital ads will run into next week and that the “digital ones will likely continue through the decision.”
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PORK LOBBY PRESSES TRUMP ON CHINA TARIFFS: “The U.S. pork industry on Tuesday called for a swift resolution of a trade dispute with China, saying that is costing producers billions of dollars in lost profits,” POLITICO’s Doug Palmer reports. Jim Heimerl, an Ohio pig farmer who serves as president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in a statement that the trade group hopes “the next round of trade talks with China results in improved market access to a critical export market for U.S. pork and other farm products.” Full story.
IF YOU MISSED IT: “Corey Lewandowski is advising T-Mobile on how to win approval for its proposed merger with Sprint, according to the company,” POLITICO’s Theodoric Meyer and Margaret Harding McGill report. “Lewandowski is advising T-Mobile through Turnberry Solutions, a lobbying firm started last year by two fellow veterans of President Donald Trump’s campaign, which Lewandowski managed before being fired. T-Mobile hired Turnberry last year, but Lewandowski has denied any connection to the firm in the past. ‘I have nothing to do with Turnberry Solutions,’ he told POLITICO in September.