It’s a great time to be a tax specialist

 In Politics

With David Beavers, Garrett Ross and Daniel Lippman

IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A TAX SPECIALIST: It’s a great time to be a Hill staffer who knows tax policy. Capitol Tax Partners is the latest to add another tax aide: Randy Herndon will join the firm as a partner starting in June. Most recently, Herndon was tax and budget counsel to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). He was also policy director and senior tax counsel to Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio). “Now that tax reform was over, I was looking to take the next step and always thought highly of Capitol Tax,” Herndon said in an interview with PI, adding that Capitol Tax Partners has a “certain level of credibility and knowledge when it comes to the tax reform debate.” He said he will primarily work on implementation of last year’s tax reform bill, with a focus on the Treasury Department and the House.

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— The demand for Hill staffers who understand tax policy is not going away anytime soon. As PI noted Monday, Akin Gump hired recently Brendan Dunn, former policy adviser and counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Zachary Rudisill, former tax counsel to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). And earlier this month, BGR Group added Matt Hoffmann, who most recently was policy director for the Senate Finance Committee.

FORBES TATE ADDS PARTNER: Cindy Brown has joined Forbes Tate as a partner. She was previously a partner at the bipartisan firm West Front Strategies. Brown was also vice president of legislative strategies for the Campaign to Fix the Debt and chief of staff to Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). Among the issues Brown will work on at Forbes Tate are health care, tax and trade, with a focus on moderate Democrats on both the House and Senate sides. In addition, Brown said she will continue to fundraise. She has previously helped host fundraisers for moderate Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, as well as vulnerable House Democrats, she said. Asked about her decision to move to Forbes Tate, Brown praised the firm for specializing in both lobbying and public affairs. “No place I’ve worked at in the past has that combination in-house,” she said.

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SPEAKING OF DEMOCRATIC STAFFERS: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce added recently Ken Johnson as executive director of the trade association’s congressional and public affairs team. He was previously a senior policy adviser to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).

WIND ENERGY TRADE GROUP ADDS THREE: The American Wind Energy Association has hired Bree Raum as vice president for federal affairs and Diane Miller as vice president for public affairs. Raum was previously a senior director at the American Gas Association. Miller was previously a senior adviser at Strategic Elements. The trade group also hired Sari Fink away from the American Petroleum Institute earlier this month. She’s the association’s senior director of electricity and transmission policy.

BROADCOM ADDS MORE LOBBYISTS: Broadcom has signed three new firms in the last three months: Forbes Tate, S-3 and Harbinger Strategies. Forbes Tate, the most recent registration, will lobby on “issues related to innovation and technology,” while S-3 and Harbinger Strategies were hired to lobby on legislative and regulatory issues that affect the semiconductor industry. As POLITICO’s Steven Overly pointed out today in Morning Tech, both the S-3 and Harbinger Strategies registrations “list their effective start date as March 12 — the same day the Trump administration blocked Broadcom from purchasing rival Qualcomm out of concern the deal would give a lift to Chinese telecommunications firms.”

AND ANOTHER TARIFF REGISTRATION: Fujifilm Holdings America Corporation hired Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough to lobby on “tariffs and duties relating to aluminum.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins will lobby on the issue.

CRYPTOCURRENCY IS BOON FOR K STREET: “Bitcoin may end up being a bubble, but cryptocurrencies are fueling real revenue for Washington lobbyists,” POLITICO’s Patrick Temple-West and Colin Wilhelm report. “As digital currencies face a growing threat of government regulation, companies and trade associations are increasingly enlisting help from K Street. For the first time in their lobbying disclosures, three big trade groups have listed cryptocurrency as an issue: the Association of National Advertisers, the Investment Company Institute and the National Venture Capital Association. In an April 20 disclosure, financial services giant Fidelity said it is lobbying on Bitcoin and digital assets. And Israeli startup Neema hired lobbyists for help with the rollout of the Marshall Islands’ new digital currency. Home to about 53,000 citizens and the Bikini Atoll, the Marshall Islands in February established a cryptocurrency as a legal tender for all debts, taxes and other government payments.

— “Neema, a payments processor, hired Bradley Tusk, who managed Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 mayoral reelection campaign and who now runs a venture capital firm. The company hired Tusk Ventures for help with reaching out to the Treasury Department, State Department and other regulators as well as members of Congress, according to a disclosure.The lobbying comes as the SEC and CFTC are weighing regulations for digital currencies.” Full story.

** A message from the American Clinical Laboratory Association: Millions of seniors who depend on lab tests to manage their health are facing reductions in access to Medicare lab testing because of HHS’ flawed implementation of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA). HHS is putting the nation’s most vulnerable seniors at risk. It’s time for Congress to act. Learn More. **

OOPS. BLAKE FARENTHOLD MAY HAVE BEEN HIRED ILLEGALLY AT HIS NEW LOBBYING JOB: “Disgraced former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) may have been hired illegally at his new job at a Texas port authority, and a local newspaper on Monday filed a lawsuit that could result in his being ejected,” HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reports. “Farenthold, who abruptly resigned from Congress last month while under investigation for sexual harassment, announced last week that he landed a gig as a lobbyist for the Calhoun Port Authority in Port Lavaca, Texas. The problem is that the local government entity did not give public notice that it was hiring Farenthold or that it was creating a job for him that pays $160,000 a year. Under the Texas Open Meetings Act, public entities must give notice of actions being taken at upcoming meetings and allow for public comment. The port did give notice of its May 9 meeting, after which Farenthold was hired, but it used vague language about personnel matters.” Full story.

DARK MONEY GROUP HELPS SINK OHIO STATE LEGISLATOR’S BID FOR CONGRESS: “A ‘dark money’ organization tied to a major electric company pumped significant cash into an Ohio congressional race in what a losing candidate describes as an act of retribution over a failed financial deal,” the Center for Public Integrity’s Sarah Kleiner reports. “Christina Hagan, a state representative who was running in the Republican primary for Ohio’s 16th congressional district seat, said a group called the Conservative Leadership Alliance targeted her with a barrage of attack ads after she declined to support legislation Akron, Ohio-based electric company FirstEnergy had lobbied her to help pass. The Conservative Leadership Alliance’s treasurer is Marc Himmelstein, who has worked for years as a FirstEnergy lobbyist in Washington, D.C. FirstEnergy has paid Himmelstein firm, National Environmental Strategies, $640,000 since 2010, according to congressional lobbying filings.” Full story.

FLY-INS GALORE: Members of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations are in town this week to discuss tax reform, health care and labor and employment law. Among the lawmakers who will speak to the members are Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.).

— Members of IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries are in town for their executive fly-in. They’ll be meeting with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.); Andrew Wheeler of the EPA; Alexander Gray of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy; and Steve Pinkos of Vice President Mike Pence’s office.

— Members of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine are in town, too, talking with lawmakers about gene therapy, cell therapy and tissue engineering. They’re meeting with dozens of congressional offices.

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