Republican aides hired to fight cuts

A stable of former GOP aides has been hired by public television stations, children’s hospitals and other interest groups that fear they’ll be targeted for spending cuts by the Republican House.

Most of the aides left Congress years ago, but many still have close ties to senior Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio). They’ve been hired to try to convince the new GOP Congress that some public spending is worth continuing and not reducing. 

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An advocacy group for the Association of Public Television Stations, for example, has hired GOP lobbyists John Feehery and Marc Lampkin of Quinn Gillespie & Associates to fight off budget cuts. 

Lampkin was Boehner’s general counsel when the Speaker was House Republican Conference chairman, while Feehery, who writes for The Hill’s Pundits Blog, managed communications for former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and ex-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). 

“What I am facing here are 96 new members of Congress and 20 new senators that don’t know us yet,” said Patrick Butler, president and CEO of the public television group. “We read the papers like everyone else and we keep hearing about cuts to public television. I want to make sure we are telling our story to everybody who needs to hear it.”

The conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) released a spending-cut plan last week that would eliminate subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

A review of lobbying disclosure records by The Hill shows the public television stations are hardly alone in recruiting GOP muscle. 

A number of associations hoping to retain federal funding have recently added GOP lobbyists with connections to the new majority. The hiring binge indicates Republican lobbyists are earning dividends from their party’s re-taking of the House in November and points to the headaches in store for a Republican House that wants to take a hatchet to public spending. 

Targets of GOP budget cuts say they need all the help they can get from the coming GOP-led onslaught. 

“Everyone is going to make their case for government support for their projects,” said one GOP lobbyist.

Republicans pushed a measure through the House on Tuesday that would reduce spending for the fiscal year to 2008 levels or lower, and the RSC is targeting several federal programs for cuts, including the National Endowment for the Arts, assistance to the government of the District of Columbia and high-speed rail. 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has hired Ogilvy Government Relations’ Drew Maloney, a former aide to DeLay, to work on retaining federal grants for high-speed rail. Maloney lends some GOP chops to the agency’s lobbying roster, which has been led by Mark Kadesh, a former chief of staff to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). 

Williams & Jensen has registered to lobby for AARP to work on senior-citizen issues and President Obama’s deficit commission report. Prominent Republican lobbyist Steve Hart is among those working for the group, which wants to make sure the new healthcare law is not repealed. AARP is also concerned about some debt-reduction proposals that could reduce Social Security benefits and increase Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs for seniors. 

Drew Nannis, AARP’s senior vice president, said the group has always hired Republican as well as Democratic lobbyists to help with its efforts on Capitol Hill. 

Some GOP lobbyists are trying to secure more federal funds for their clients. 

The National Association of Children’s Hospitals (NACH) has hired former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) of Clark Lytle & Geduldig to lobby for the reauthorization of the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program, which uses $317.5 million in federal funding a year. 

Seeing her 9-year-old daughter pass from cancer, Pryce was a champion for children’s healthcare and cancer research while in Congress. The bill would help secure funding to train more pediatricians.

“As a parent of a child who battled cancer, [Pryce] is intimately familiar with the importance of timely access to specialty care,” said Jim Kaufman, NACH’s vice president for public policy.

Sam Geduldig, one of the lobbying firm’s partners, has also registered to lobby for the children’s hospitals. Once an aide to Boehner, Geduldig also served as a senior adviser to newly elected Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) when he was majority whip of the House.