Top Lobbyists

Top Lobbyists 2016: Associations

Lobbying runs deep in Washington.

Every day, thousands of law firms, associations and advocacy groups seek to exert influence over policymaking away from the glare of presidential and congressional politics.

{mosads}In such a crowded field, a select few have shown an ability to get things done — and it’s those movers and shakers who are among The Hill’s Top Lobbyists.

From the “hired guns” who populate K Street, to the lobbyists who derive strength from grassroots organizing, to the trade associations harnessing industry might, to the professionals representing America’s biggest companies, influence comes in many forms.

Many of the people on The Hill’s list are not formally registered to lobby. We use the term broadly here to encompass Washington’s influence arena and those who do battle within it.


Jeremy Allen, America’s Health Insurance Plans

The five-year veteran of the powerful insurer group was tapped this year to oversee GOP lobbying at a time when many insurers are facing their toughest year yet under ObamaCare.


Mitch Bainwol, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

Bainwol was a fighting force for automakers as the administration crafted flexible, driverless-vehicle guidelines that were viewed as a win for innovation.


Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA-The Wireless Association

A former FCC commissioner, Baker steered the trade group through a major airwaves auction while making a push for spectrum reform legislation.


Mark Baker, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Baker is elevating the profile of the general aviation industry at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is struggling to fill a shortage of air traffic controllers.


Michael Beckerman, The Internet Association

Beckerman, a former House staffer, has grown this trade group — which represents companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon — from a startup to an established player in Washington tech policy circles.


Kenneth Bentsen Jr., Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

The former Democratic congressman from Texas helped lead his group, along with other industry forces, in mounting a legal challenge to new Labor Department rules governing retirement advisers.


B. Dan Berger and Brad Thaler, National Association of Federal Credit Unions

Berger and Thaler have made headway in convincing Congress that credit unions need breathing room under the new Dodd-Frank rules.


John Bozzella, Global Automakers

Bozzella has been a leading voice for automakers at a time when the industry is experiencing rapid change and innovation, as well as facing scrutiny over recalls.


Tom Buis, Growth Energy

Growth Energy honored Buis, its co-chairman and former CEO, with its top annual award in September, recognizing his years of advocacy for the ethanol industry.


Kevin Burke, Airports Council International — North America

Burke, in his third year at the group’s helm, skillfully helped airports tackle massive checkpoint lines around the country and navigate a heightened security environment.


Nicholas Calio, Airlines for America

Calio and most of the major airlines won a big victory earlier this year when the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced a major proposal to reform the country’s air traffic control.


Kateri Callahan, Alliance to Save Energy

The agenda in Washington is moving in Callahan’s direction as the Obama administration pursues aggressive appliance standards and Congress seeks to finish a sweeping energy bill.


Robert Cresanti, International Franchise Association

Cresanti spent his first year as IFA president and CEO lobbying Congress to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s interpretation of a “joint employer” while also pushing for regulatory reform. 


Richard Deem, American Medical Association

The prominent doctors group got a big win last year when Congress approved a fix for Medicare payment rules; now Deem and the AMA has its hands full with implementing the new system. 


Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association

Dinneen told a House Committee in June he was “nostalgic” about his 14 years of testimony in favor of renewable fuels; the federal ethanol mandate, he said, “is accomplishing everything it was asked to do.”


Chris Dodd, Motion Picture Association of America

The former Democratic senator from Connecticut is Hollywood’s man in Washington, directing the industry’s lobbying on everything from set-top boxes to drones. 


Thomas Donohue and R. Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

With Josten retiring, the Chamber’s leaders are laser-focused on some unfinished business, including congressional ratification of President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.


Cal Dooley, American Chemistry Council

A leading voice in the successful push for an overhaul of the nation’s chemical safety laws, the ACC’s president and CEO is now working with the construction industry to create more good-paying jobs in the chemical sector.  


Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association

Dow was part of a successful push to keep airport security lines at bay and scored some consumer protections in a short-term aviation bill.


Juanita Duggan, National Federation of Independent Business

Duggan took over as president and CEO earlier this year; the group is fighting in court to stop federal rules on overtime pay, union elections and allowing union officials to inspect non-unionized businesses.


Martin Edwards, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America

This year saw Congress renew the federal government’s pipeline safety programs, and Edwards and his allies helped keep new mandates in the legislation to a minimum.


John Engler, Business Roundtable

Backed by corporate CEOs, Engler is devoting much of the group’s energy to passing Pacific Rim and European trade deals, reducing U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba and filling the board of the Export-Import Bank.


Marv Fertel, Nuclear Energy Institute

Fertel is retiring after more than two decades of work to get recognition for nuclear as a zero-emission energy source; Maria Korsnick will take over as CEO on Jan. 1.


Camden Fine, Independent Community Bankers of America

Fine has been the group’s energetic leader since 2004, helping to ensure that community banks have allies on both sides of the aisle.


Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association

The top card for the casino lobby, Freeman is leading the charge against the federal ban on sports betting.


David French, National Retail Federation

French fights hard for the retail industry and was on the front lines of the battle over the Labor Department’s new overtime rule. 


Lee Fuller, Independent Petroleum Association of America

Fuller and the IPAA put muscle behind the congressional push to expand crude oil exports late in 2015; this year, the group has fought to expanded offshore drilling in a new five-year federal plan.  


Dean Garfield, Information Technology Industry Council

The council’s CEO previously worked for recording and film industry trade groups, giving him a wide-angle perspective.


Jack Gerard, American Petroleum Institute

Gerard has been working tirelessly to increase the oil and gas industry’s profile on the campaign trail and in Congress, including a successful effort last year to repeal the ban on crude oil exports.


Jerry Giovaniello, National Association of Realtors

Realtors give their seal of approval to Giovaniello, who ably represents them on issues like flood insurance, mortgage disclosure rules, credit reporting and housing finance reform. 


Rob Gramlich, American Wind Energy Association

Gramlich leads the group’s policy and communications work in pursuit of an ambitious goal: making wind power 20 percent of all American energy by 2030.


James Greenwood, Biotechnology Industry Organization

The former Republican congressman, now head of the biotech group, has the challenge of defending drug prices at a time of heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill.


Edward Hamberger, Association of American Railroads

Hamberger is leading an aggressive industry charge against a proposed rule requiring two-person crews for most trains.


Gerald Howard, National Association of Home Builders

Howard is aiming to lighten the weight of the Obama administration’s regulations on the sector and push through an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


Erik Huey, Entertainment Software Association

Huey gets issues important to the video game industry in front of lawmakers, with intellectual property protections and online piracy scoring high on the list of concerns.


Richard Hunt, Consumer Bankers Association

Between Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules and Republican efforts to overhaul Dodd-Frank, Hunt’s advocacy for retail banks will be high stakes in the next Congress.


Chip Kahn, Federation of American Hospitals

A force in healthcare policy for three decades, Kahn is steering for-profit hospitals through the rapid delivery system reform pushed by the Obama administration.


Dirk Kempthorne, American Council of Life Insurers

The former Interior secretary has led the group in endorsing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and filing a legal challenge to the Labor Department’s “fiduciary rule.”


Thomas Kuhn and Brian Wolff, Edison Electric Institute

Kuhn and Wolff, the bipartisan pair steering the electric utility’s lobby, amplify the industry message on pollution, climate change, cybersecurity and more.


Linda Lipsen, American Association for Justice

The CEO of the trial lawyers association has dedicated her career to ensuring that all Americans have access to justice through the courts.


Katherine Lugar, American Hotel & Lodging Association

Lugar has helped power up the influence of the hospitality industry; recent lobbying priorities include funding to fight the Zika virus, the Labor Department’s overtime rule and pushing states to crack down on Airbnb.


Walter McCormick Jr., United States Telecom Association 

McCormick boasts experience in the last two presidential administrations, giving him deep insight into telecom issues.


Dave McCurdy and Kyle Rogers, American Gas Association

The AGA, led by McCurdy and represented by Rogers, has a lengthy wish list for lawmakers, from tax incentives and pipeline safety to cybersecurity. 


Nancy McLernon, Organization for International Investment

McLernon spent 2016 promoting bilateral tax treaties and trade deals for foreign investment in the United States, providing a counterweight to the anti-trade rhetoric heard on the presidential campaign trail.


David Melcher, Aerospace Industries Association

As president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, Melcher has been on the ground advocating for defense budget stability, space systems and technologies and the interests of defense industry workers. 


Mark Merritt, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

Merritt has worked for insurers and for drug companies and now leads the trade group caught between them: the pharmacy benefit managers who negotiate with drugmakers. 


Kraig Naasz, Mark Gorman and David Culver, Distilled Spirits Council

The alcohol lobby hasn’t missed a beat with Naasz, its new CEO, at the helm; among other issues, lobbyists Gorman and Culver have been working hard on tax reforms for distillers. 


Rob Nichols, American Bankers Association

A former Treasury official under President George W. Bush, Nichols took the reins at the ABA in 2015; since then, he has guaranteed the banking industry’s seat at the policymaking table.


Rich Nolan, National Mining Association

The coal industry’s policy and financial headwinds are strong, but Nolan and his allies have still notched victories, like the Supreme Court’s February order halting the Clean Power Plan.


Jim Nussle, Credit Union National Association

A former GOP lawmaker and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, Nussle uses his extensive Washington know-how to help credit unions work all the policy angles.


Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association

With a booming healthcare demand for aging Americans, the nursing homes and assisted living lobby has helped shape a flurry of federal regulations that seek to substantially alter reimbursements.


Tim Pawlenty and Francis Creighton, Financial Services Roundtable

Representing some of the biggest names on Wall Street, Pawlenty — a former GOP presidential candidate and Minnesota governor — and Creighton — a former top staffer to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) — carry bipartisan bona fides.


Richard Pollack, American Hospital Association

In Pollack’s first year leading the nation’s largest hospitals group, he helped avert additional industry payment cuts in Congress’s landmark 21st Century Cures Act while navigating another year of ObamaCare’s rollout.


Michael Powell, National Cable & Telecommunications Association

The association has been an aggressive opponent of the FCC’s set-top box proposal, with Powell, a former Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, leading the charge.


Craig Purser and Laurie Knight,
National Beer Wholesalers Association

The wholesalers have stressed the importance of keeping the industry competitive at a time when large beer producers, like SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev, have been consolidating. 


Leigh Ann Pusey, American Insurance Association

Pusey has been president and CEO of the AIA since 2009, championing insurer interests in areas like financial services and tax and trade policy.


John Rother, National Coalition on Health Care

Rother is a leading advocate for lowering prescription drug prices, and his moment appears to be at hand as calls for action rise in both parties. 


Bob Rusbuldt and Charles Symington, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America

The “Big I” won a two-year delay on ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax” at the end of 2015; now it’s seeking to stop the privatization of national flood insurance. 


Dana Atkins, Military Officers Association of America

Atkins, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, took the reins of the organization at the beginning of this year; he has been focused on issues from tax equity for service members, veterans and families to veteran suicide prevention.


Stephen Sandherr, The Associated General Contractors of America

Sandher has been with the construction worker trade group since 1984, bringing a wealth of knowledge to issues like infrastructure spending.


J.C. Scott, AdvaMed

Scott became AdvaMed’s top lobbyist this year, shouldering responsibility for a multibillion-dollar medical device industry that is increasingly under the scrutiny of federal and state regulators.


Gary Shapiro, Consumer Electronics Association

Shapiro is CEO of the trade association that puts on CES, one of the biggest consumer technology events of the year.


Cicely Simpson, National Restaurant Association

Simpson, who joined the group last year, is off to a fast start as the leader of policy shop for the restaurant industry group, ramping up its lobbying.


Gordon Smith, National Association of Broadcasters

Smith manages the association’s expansive portfolio, which this year included a spectrum auction that allows broadcasters to vacate the airwaves for potentially large payouts.


Scott Talbott, Electronic Transactions Association

Talbott is at the forefront of cybersecurity reforms in the industry where finance and technology meet.


Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation

Thatcher has the farming community behind her as she seeks to influence policy on crop insurance funding, the labeling of genetically modified food and preventive measures for food-borne illnesses, just for starters.


Chet Thompson, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers

Thompson is president of the AFPM, a refining and petrochemical industry group that has been at the vanguard of opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard.


Jay Timmons and Aric Newhouse, National Association of Manufacturers

Flexing manufacturing’s muscle, Timmons and Newhouse won greater protections for trade secrets; now they are pressing lawmakers to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make the Export-Import Bank fully functional.


Stephen Ubl, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Ubl became head of the drugmakers group last year and has sought to get out the word about drug company innovation as his members contend with controversy over drug prices. 


Dirk Van Dongen, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

From Department of Labor wage rules to healthcare taxes and policy papers, Van Dongen and his team are in the center of the action on issues affecting wholesale trade.


Nathaniel Wienecke, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

Wienecke’s team has homed in on cybersecurity and data breach prevention after a spate of hacking attacks hitting political organizations, businesses and websites across the country.

See The Hill’s list of Top Grassroots Lobbyists.


— This post was updated on Nov. 3.

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