No shutdown for K Street as advocates blitz Capitol

While the staffing furloughs have forced some last-minute venue changes and communications problems, trade groups say their events have mostly gone off without a hitch.

“It’s not chaos by any stretch of imagination. But you could say it’s controlled confusion,” said Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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Sanders, a former San Diego mayor, led a delegation of 130 people to Washington this week. He said he was “anticipating the worst, but it has gone far, far better than I could have hoped for.” 

The group had 45 meetings planned on Monday and Tuesday this week with lawmakers, congressional staff and administration officials, and only seven were canceled. 

The group had to call some agency officials on their personal lines because they couldn’t use their government-issued BlackBerrys. The local chamber also could no longer have a breakfast in the Rayburn House Office Building because of shutdown restrictions. 

“We can use the facilities. There’s just no service,” Sanders said. 

Other groups have been moved to other locations. Steel Day, an event planned by steel and construction groups, was not held on Capitol Hill Wednesday as originally scheduled. 

“We moved our Steel Day activities based on the shutdown prohibitions from the Rayburn Building to our headquarters,” said Lisa Harrison, senior vice president of communications for the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The shutdown hasn’t put a damper on some groups’ lobbying, however.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group brought about 40 executives to Washington this week and seemed to receive a warm reception on Capitol Hill. Officials from the group tweeted photos of meetings with several lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), who was seen wearing Google Glass. 

There have been a few cancellations, but the group said it has had roughly 70 face-to-face meetings with lawmakers.

“We have had no hiccups,” said Carl Guardino, the group’s president and CEO. 

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has flown in about a dozen people this week to talk about how corporate tax reform could impact U.S. manufacturing. The alliance is also lobbying for legislation to end Chinese currency manipulation. 

Some of AAM’s meetings were canceled because of furloughed staff, but the group, after waiting in long lines, found some lawmakers with time on their hands due to committee work being postponed. 

“The member and/or the staff was happy to talk about something else other than the shutdown. We have been able to harvest some co-sponsorships for our legislation,” said Scott Paul, AAM’s president. 

The group was also planning to go to an International Trade Commission hearing on Thursday, which was canceled. 

Some groups have decided to forego Washington while it’s in shutdown mode. The Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) decided to cancel its fly-in visit to Washington next week and reschedule it for a later date. 

“Given the uncertainty, we decided to reschedule,” said Rachel Schwartz, an ACHP spokeswoman. 

But one popular activity for lawmakers and lobbyists seems to be falling victim to the shutdown.

A number of fundraising events have either been canceled or postponed since the government closure began, according to emails obtained by The Hill. 

A “porch party” in support of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), which would have included several powerful members of the House Appropriations Committee as hosts, has been postponed until next week. 

Rep. Steve Chabot’s (R-Ohio) “Taste of Cincinnati” fundraiser, slated for Tuesday, was also postponed.  

A National Republican Congressional Committee luncheon scheduled for Wednesday will now be scheduled for a later date. 

And a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mixer with the freshman class and 2013 Frontline members that had been slated for next week has been postponed until further notice. 

One watchdog group said lawmakers don’t want to be seen asking for campaign cash while many of their staff and other federal workers go without pay. 

“Whether the lawmakers are governing or not, they are still fundraising,” said Kathy Kiely, managing editor for the Sunlight Foundation. “This is a question of shame. Had it not been pointed out that this wasn’t going on, it would still have gone on.”

Sunlight also found that fundraisers scheduled this week for Reps. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) have either been canceled or postponed.

Fundraising consultants said canceling the money-raising events with only a few days’ notice can be costly. Candidates could still be charged for catering and rent for the event space.

“It’s an expensive proposition to cancel an event,” said Mike Fraioli with Fraioli & Associates, a Democratic fundraising firm. 

Consultants said this week was light for fundraisers because it was a first week of a new reporting period. One Republican lobbyist predicted more fundraisers would be canceled if the shutdown persists. 

“The optics would be terrible if they’re still raising money while the government is shut down. It would imply they care more about their own election than the business of running the country,” the lobbyist said. 


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