K Street Spread

The people who make K Street matter

Each spring, The Hill sorts through Washington’s thousands of lobbyists to highlight the top men and women in the field.

The list is determined throughout the year through conversations with members of Congress, key aides and lobbyists themselves. We strive to feature those names that never fail to arise when talk turns to a given issue. We also take into consideration those lobbyists who have enjoyed big legislative wins in the past year, or have high-profile business before Congress this year.

Today, we present association and interest-group lobbyists. Don’t miss next Wednesday’s issue, when we’ll continue with corporate lobbyists and “hired guns.”

Top interest-group Lobbyists

Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice
 Aron leads the Alliance’s efforts to hold Senate Democrats’ feet to the fire in opposing President Bush’s judicial nominations. Recently, the organization launched a campaign to preserve the filibuster as an option for senators, in the face of Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) threatened “nuclear option.”

Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen
 Public Citizen is the General Electric of the public watchdog world. It operates six divisions that keep a sharp eye on issues ranging from trade policy, drug standards, automobile safety, to congressional ethics.

Chris Cox, National Rifle Association
 Cox doesn’t know Washington-speak. His public statements are never subtle and regularly fire up his members.

Matt Daniels, Alliance for Marriage
Daniels drafted the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Though it went nowhere on Capitol Hill, some think the issue of gay marriage may have tipped the scales in favor of President Bush in the 2004 election.

James Guest, Consumers Union
Heading up a staff of more than 450, Guest spearheads CU’s efforts to represent consumers on a range of issues, from healthcare to product safety to financial services. The publisher of Consumer Reports, CU is a force for business to reckon with, and Guest is its top dog.

Richard Lessner, American Conservative Union
 The largest conservative group in America, the ACU’s position on legislation can be pivotal. (ACU Chairman David Keene is a columnist for The Hill.)

Connie Mackey, Family Research Council
 Directing the daily operations of Family Research Council’s government affairs shop, Mackey is a fiery leader of social conservatives fighting to confirm President Bush’s judicial nominees, curtail abortion rights and preserve the traditional definition of marriage.

Ralph Neas, People for the American Way
 Senate Republicans and conservative activists view Neas as the mastermind behind the Democratic filibuster of conservative judicial nominees. He will play a major role in organizing liberal opposition to any controversial Supreme Court nominee.

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
 Once marginal, Norquist’s conservative politics are now mainstream. His influence has widened beyond ATR’s stated mission to lower taxes and now encompasses nearly every issue in Washington, including even the hiring practices of top lobbying groups.

Bill Novelli, AARP
 Novelli is becoming a household name after his efforts to pass the Medicare drug bill and thwart President Bush’s Social Security reform plan. Novelli has his fair share of critics, but make no mistake: If AARP comes out strongly against a bill, it’s doomed.

Harold Schaitberger, International Association of Fire Fighters
 The former Fairfax County, Va., firefighter consolidated his power in organized labor with a shrewd early endorsement of John Kerry for president. That IAFF’s PAC, FIREPAC, was in the top 1 percent of all PACs in the last election cycle with $3 million raised doesn’t hurt either. It only amplifies his voice on collective bargaining issues, as well as disbursement of homeland security money.

Tom Schatz, Citizens Against Government Waste
 A recent “60 Minutes” interview on wasteful homeland security spending cemented Schatz’s position as one of the chief advocates for good government and lower spending.

Top association Lobbyists

Mitch Bainwol, Recording Industry Association of America
With music being freely shared on the Internet, Bainwol’s group faces the lobbying battle of its life. Last year, the former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) gathered congressional support to broaden copyright law, and strengthen the industry’s legal position.

Dan Berger, America’s Community Bankers
His affable personality and numerous connections on and off Capitol Hill have made Berger a major player in Washington.

Red Cavaney, American Petroleum Institute
As head of API, Cavaney represents the interests of “big oil” in Washington. Cavaney is a familiar figure on Capitol Hill, where he is often called to testify, and is close to the White House.

Lee Culpepper, National Restaurant Association
 Active in fighting obesity-related lawsuits, Culpepper is also one of Washington’s experts on small business issues — minimum wage, association health plans,  immigration.

Dan Danner, National Federation of Independent Business
 The small business lobby wields significant influence on Capitol Hill, with NFIB backers noting again and again that small businesses are the engine of the economy. Chief lobbyist Danner was promoted last month to executive vice president, where he will also handle political affairs.

Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Donohue has been bigger than life this year. Pro-business politicians, cleaned up in the polls and then began pushing through such long-stalled pro-business legislation as the class-action bill, bankruptcy reform and oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Daniel Duff, American Public Transportation Association
 In the spotlight again this year thanks to delays in Congress’s approval of the transportation reauthorization bill, Duff is the point man for cities and states trying to beef up their mass transit.

John Engler, National Association of Manufacturers
Former Michigan governor John Engler quickly shook up Washington. As the new head of the National Association of Manufacturers, Engler, a Republican, pledged NAM’s considerable resources in support an issue usually associated with social conservatives, judicial nominees.

Jonathan Etherton, Aerospace Industries Association
 The head of AIA’s lobbying shop since April 2002, Etherton understands and can navigate the Pentagon’s complicated acquisition policies a once-obscure topic that is now making headlines thanks to probes by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Frank Fahrenkopf, American Gaming Association
 Fahrenkopf is a familiar face in Washington. He became a nationally recognized figure as chairman of the Republican Party from 1983 to 1989. He has been AGA’s CEO since 1995, the only person to hold that position.

Jerry Giovaniello, National Association of Realtors
Always a strong voice on small-business issues, Giovaniello has two other issues front and center this year. NAR is trying to prevent reform of government-sponsored enterprises, including mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, from diminishing the federal role in housing. And earlier this year, the organization sent 900,000 e-mails to its members for their help in preventing regulations that would let banks engage in real-estate brokerage.

Karen Ignagni, America’s Health Insurance Plans
 Ignagni, a former Senate aide and AFL-CIO employee, is always a class act – even when the HMO debate gets ugly.

Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
 As the No. 2, Josten has been a large part of the Chamber’s recent successes. He directs the day-to-day business while Donohue raises money.

Charles “Chip” Kahn, Federation of American Hospitals
 An architect of the campaign that put the nail in the coffin of the Clinton healthcare plan, Kahn is fighting to protect Medicare payments while fending off a challenge from specialty hospitals.

Tom Kuhn, Edison Electric Institute
 The president released his energy plan in 2001, but lobbyists haven’t been able to carry it through Congress. Don’t blame Kuhn, who has deftly managed the competing interests within the EEI.

Rolf Lundberg, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
 Head of congressional and public affairs at the Chamber, Lundberg leads a 15-person lobbying team, one of the most prominent on the Hill.

James May, American Transport Association of America
 The former head of the National Association of Broadcasters has his hands full lobbying against a Bush administration plan to increase taxes on the airline industry.

Mark Merritt, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
 A former lobbyist for HMOs and the drug industry, Merritt is known for his aggressive lobbying tactics against chain drugstores and pharmaceutical companies.

Walter McCormick, United States Telecom Association
 The old telecom wars aren’t what they used to be, as former enemies talk of merging. But McCormick and his group keep pressing forward, dropping big money on a new campaign to rewrite the nation’s telecom laws and take on a new rival: the cable industry.

Dave McCurdy, Electronic Industries Alliance
 McCurdy, an Oklahoma Democrat who served in the House from 1981 to 1995, enjoys good relations on both sides of the aisle. He represents a broad range of electronics interests.

Dan Mica, Credit Union National Association
 Credit unions wield enormous clout on Capitol Hill. Most members of Congress are customers of the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union.

Dave Mohler, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
Mohler is chief lobbyist at one of the most controversial and most effective lobbying groups in Washington. PhRMA defied predictions by stopping drug reimportation legislation in the 108th Congress.

W. Henson Moore, American Forest and Paper Association
Moore served six terms as a Republican congressman from Louisiana before retiring in 1987. He served Bush 41 as a deputy chief of staff. He has maintained strong ties in Congress and the administration as the head of AFPA, a group with a $50 million budget.

Steve Pfister, National Retail Federation
 Pfister and his team of lobbyists have effectively halted momentum for a national sales tax. One of the most effective and underrated trade groups in Washington.

Rick Pollack, American Hospital Association
The industry has pushed back repeated calls for smaller Medicare payment increases, but a potential threat to the nonprofit status of many hospitals could pose a major challenge.

Leigh Ann Pusey, American Insurance Association
 AIA will be a major stakeholder in two issues that are likely to be in play this year: asbestos litigation reform and the extension of the federal terrorism insurance program.

David Rehr, National Beer Wholesalers Association
Under Rehr’s leadership, the beer wholesalers’ political action committee has grown to be the fifth most generous in politics, doling out over $2.3 million in the last election cycle. Rehr has mobilized beer wholesalers in nearly every congressional district.

Gary Shapiro, Consumer Electronics Association
Flush with cash from its annual consumer electronics show, CEA has begun to flex its muscles in the lobbying arena, having this year established a lobbying staff separate from its former umbrella group, the Electronics Industry Alliance.

Richard Shelby, American Gas Association
played a key role in several legislative battles, has great contacts on the Hill following five years as NRSC political director, and is known as an “imaginative thinker.”

Dirk Van Dongen, National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors
With a reputation as a coalition builder, Van Dongen has been at the forefront in the push for tax, healthcare, tort and other business-friendly reforms. He also played a lead role in big business’s ramped-up efforts in support of Republican candidates in the 2004.

James “Whit” Whittinghill, American Trucking Associations
 This former staffer to Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) should have a busy year ahead as the House and Senate again try to hammer out an agreement on TEA-21 reauthorization. “He’s one of the key guys on highways,” said one transportation expert.

Ed Yingling, American Bankers Association
 Recent passage of the bankruptcy bill was a feather in Yingling’s cap. He is a longtime lobbyist for ABA.