Hotel trade group shakes up lobby team

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has shaken up its own lobbying team.

As part of a staff realignment, three of AH&LA’s lobbyists are no longer with the hotel trade group. In an email sent Friday and obtained by The Hill, Katherine Lugar, the business group’s president and CEO, said in order to position AH&LA for “future success,” the group has “taken a number of steps to realign staffing in the organization.” 

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“Specifically, we have redefined the roles and skills needed in the government affairs department, and we have taken steps to streamline areas on the operational side of the house. As a result of this realignment, Lisa Costello, Kevin Maher, and Shawn McBurney are no longer with AH&LA,” Lugar said in the email.

Costello, Maher and McBurney were all registered lobbyists for the trade group this year, according to disclosure records.

In the email, Lugar said Vanessa Sinders, who joined AH&LA in September, will be the group’s “main point of contact for government affairs issues.” Before joining the business group, Sinders was chief of staff for Campaign to Fix the Debt and also served on Capitol Hill as former Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) chief of staff.

In addition, the hotel group has brought on outside K Street help as it regroups for the next year.

“We have also retained lobbying consultants to cover any gaps in our advocacy efforts during this period of transition and are working to have a new team in place when we launch the new model in 2014,” Lugar said.

Chris Burgoyne will remain in charge of AH&LA’s grassroots operation and its political action committee, HotelPAC. Kaitlyn Boecker has been hired as manager for government affairs, according to Lugar. 

Coming from the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Lugar took the helm of AH&LA in April this year. She has looked to rework the trade group as a more forceful lobbying presence for hoteliers across the country. 

AH&LA has pushed for immigration reform and has been involved in several of Congress’s budget battles this year, including the sequester and the federal government’s shutdown in October.  

The hotel group has spent about $930,000 on lobbying so far this year, according to disclosure records. That sum matches the pace of their lobbying spending at this point in 2012.

An AH&LA spokesman declined to comment for this story.