All about Wheeler



FORMER LOBBYIST NOW LEADING EPA: The man who’s leading the Environmental Protection Agency after Scott Pruitt’s downfall on Thursday was a registered lobbyist until last summer. Andrew Wheeler, who’s now acting EPA administrator, had been expected to be tapped as Pruitt’s No. 2 since the early days of the Trump administration, although President Donald Trump didn’t nominate him until October and he wasn’t confirmed by the Senate until April. He was previously a lobbyist for Faegre Baker Daniels, “where his past lobbying clients included coal producer Murray Energy, Xcel Energy, Bear Head LNG and Energy Fuels Resources,” as POLITICO reported when Wheeler was confirmed. “He provided advice and counsel, but not lobbying work, to International Paper, Archer Daniels Midland and General Mills.”

— Faegre Baker Daniels didn’t respond to a request for comment on what Wheeler’s role as acting administrator would mean for the firm. But disclosure filings show that Faegre Baker Daniels has lobbied the EPA on behalf of only one client in the past year: International Paper.

Jeremy Symons, the Environmental Defense Fund’s vice president for political affairs, told POLITICO that Wheeler is “much smarter” than Pruitt and predicted he’d take a more savvy approach to deregulation. “‘The problem with the Pruitt approach is it’s like a sugar high,’ said Jeff Navin, a Democratic lobbyist and former Energy Department staffer who has shared lobbying clients with Wheeler. ‘It feels really, really good for a moment, but if you’re not following rules and procedure, not laying down substance for the decision you’re making, you’re not going to last very long.’”

POTOMAC INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS ADDS THREE: The lobbying and communications firm Potomac International Partners is adding three new advisers: Chris Courson, Susan Ralston and Sam Amsterdam. All three will continue to work with their own firms as well. Ralston worked under Karl Rove in former President George W. Bush’s administration and has her own firm, SBR Enterprises. Amsterdam’s firm is the Amsterdam Group. Potomac International Partners was started recently by Mark Cowan, a former senior partner at Patton Boggs, and several other lobbyists and consultants.

Good afternoon, and welcome to PI. It’s Friday, and we know many PI readers are catching flights up to Maine for the weekend or fighting traffic to the Eastern Shore. Please send us your tips and lobbying gossip before you head off the grid: mlevine@politico.com and tmeyer@politico.com.

— You can also follow us on Twitter: @theodoricmeyer and @marianne_levine.

K STREET STAFFS UP FOR DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER: “Corporate America couldn’t hire Republican lobbyists fast enough after President Donald Trump’s election gave the GOP unified control of Washington. Now there are signs that Democrats are back in demand,” POLITICO’s Theodoric Meyer reports. “Companies and trade groups are trying to hire congressional staffers with ties to influential House Democrats four months ahead of the midterm elections, in which Democrats are expected to pick up seats and potentially retake control of the House. Lobbyists are helping their clients meet with the Democrats who would become committee chairs if the party does win back the chamber. And trade groups are talking to members about what to expect from a Democratic takeover.”

— “‘Clients are cautiously beginning to look and say, ‘Do we need to do more with people who have House Democratic expertise?’ said Steve Elmendorf, a prominent Democratic lobbyist and fundraiser who once worked in House leadership. One senior Democratic House staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he’d been approached about multiple positions downtown, although he said he has rebuffed the offers so far.” Facebook “recently hired Chris Randle, who had been legislative director to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a rising star in the Congressional Black Caucus, and the company said it is looking to hire a second lobbyist with ties to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.” Full story.

IT’S TARIFF DAY: The Trump administration’s first set of retaliatory tariffs against the Chinese government took effect today and business groups are not happy about them. (The Chinese government responded with its own set of tariffs.) Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, told PI that the group will continue to meet with Hill offices and will work with its members to determine which products they’re most concerned about. “The president has promised minimum pain on consumers, maximum pain on China, but it’s really adding up now and consumers are caught in the crosshairs,” she said.

— Retailers are far from the only group protesting the tariffs. In a statement, Jim Heimerl, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said that the ongoing trade dispute “means less income for pork producers and, ultimately, some of them going out of business.”

WALL STREET TYPES TRY TO HELP CHINA UNDERSTAND TRUMP: “Corporate leaders and former U.S. officials who have spent years cultivating relationships with Beijing — such as Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson — have been fielding calls from Chinese officials anxious for information on what is driving U.S. actions on the trade front,” POLITICO’s Victoria Guida and Ben White report. “But even administration officials are often at a loss to predict what the president might do on a given day, and people close to Schwarzman, Paulson and Dimon say their informal efforts to guide the Chinese on dealing with the Trump administration have been frustrating and generated little success. ‘It has certainly not been for a lack of trying,’ a person close to Schwarzman said.” Full story.

NORTHROP GRUMMAN RESPONDS: We told you on Thursday that ProPublica and Frontline had identified a man caught on video participating in the violence in Charlottesville, Va., last year as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman, a major lobbying spender. Northrop Grumman didn’t comment for the story but responded to our request for comment after PI went out. “Northrop Grumman was recently made aware of alleged employee actions that are counter to our values,” the company said in a statement. “Northrop Grumman is absolutely committed to the highest levels of ethics and integrity in all that we do, and ensuring that our workplace reflects our values of diversity and inclusion. We do not tolerate hatred or illegal conduct and we condemn racist activities in any shape or form. We are taking immediate action to look into the very serious issues raised by these reports.”

ANOTHER SCOTUS AD BUY: Another day, another Supreme Court ad buy. The ACLU is the latest to make an ad buy in an effort to urge Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to ensure that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee makes clear his or her position on Roe v. Wade. The television ads, which cost six figures, ask voters to tell Collins’ and Murkowski’s offices that “Americans need to know whether the nominee will protect the right of women to make their own health care decisions.” The ads begin today and will run through Monday on cable and broadcast channels in Maine and Alaska.

BIG BANKS GET LOBBYING MAKEOVER: “The nation’s biggest banks, struggling to win over policymakers even in the business-friendly Trump era, are poised for a major makeover of their Washington lobbying efforts,” POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports. “JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are among the megabanks seeking to rejuvenate their image — still tarred by the financial crisis and a series of scandals — by rebranding and expanding their trade groups. Their efforts to assert themselves have sometimes been jarring. Before two of the financial industry’s most prominent trade associations recently merged, one of the groups abruptly booted out insurers and asset managers to focus only on bank issues. A group representing finance CEOs did the same. Another Wall Street-centric association commissioned an internal review as banks balked at the dues they were paying compared to other firms with competing interests.”

— “Banks are hardly suffering. They will reap huge gains from the tax-reform law signed by Trump in December, H.R. 1 (115), and they stand to benefit from significant deregulatory moves to come from the Federal Reserve and other agencies. Still, some in the industry don’t believe the major banks have done a good enough job winning over Washington officials, given their crucial role in the economy. One clear symptom: The landmark, bipartisan bank deregulation legislation that became law in May, S. 2155 (115), contained relatively few victories for the global banks, with lawmakers repeatedly emphasizing instead the benefits for small “community banks” linked to Main Street.” Full story.

ON THE CALENDAR: King & Spalding will host a forum on cryptocurrency and blockchain on Monday afternoon at the firm’s offices. J.C. Boggs of King & Spalding, Scott Talbott of the Electronic Transactions Association and Jessica Renier of the Treasury Department are among the speakers.

NEW JOINT REGISTRATIONS:

Janz Victory Fund (Andrew Janz for Congress, California Democratic Party)

NEW PACs:

Common Purpose (PAC)
The Really Online Lefty League (PAC)

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS:

None

NEW LOBBYING TERMINATIONS:

American Defense International Inc.: EnBIO Ltd.
American Defense International Inc.: TSG Therapeutics Pte Ltd.
Cogent Strategies LLC: The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis
GlobalGR LLC: Copart Inc.
GlobalGR LLC: Navistar Inc.
Holland & Knight LLP: TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corporation
M & W Government Affairs LLC: LeadsMarket.com
M & W Government Affairs LLC: Planetary Resources Inc.
Rosemont Group: Port of Oakland
Sidley Austin LLP: Carpet Export Promotion Council
Washington Strategic Consulting: JFK Health System

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