"Major US corporations ranging from Pfizer to Halliburton are mobilizing scores of public affairs professionals across Washington this fall in hopes that the new legislative session will bring an end to years of costly asbestos-related lawsuits," PR Week's Douglas Quenqua writes. "Working separately as the Asbestos Study Group (ASG) and the Asbestos Alliance (AA), hundreds of major companies that have either manufactured or used asbestos are lobbying for protection from more than 600,000 asbestos lawsuits now pending in US courts.
"HBO is turning its lens on the Beltway this week with the debut of a new reality-based series about Washington lobbyists," PR Week reports. "K Street mixes working politicians and lobbyists, including the likes of Michael Deaver, Mary Matalin, and James Carville, with a cast of actors playing lobbyists. ... The 10-part series from executive producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh will grab plotlines from the headlines, and film only one week in advance in an attempt to remain as timely as possible.
"For most Americans, August is a time for summer vacation. For members of Congress, their aides and some lobbyists, it's a time for privately sponsored junkets," the Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin writes.
The Motion Picture Association of America is courting two Congressmen involved with deregulating the movie industry's corporate parents. Up for grabs is MPAA's $1.15 million lobbying job. Top candidates for the post are Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who oversees the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the House and champions an FCC ruling loosening station ownership limits, and Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), who is on
the record opposing efforts to roll back that FCC ruling in the Senate. "It's obscene for Tauzin and Breaux to be in the running for the MPAA, the
"The Justice Department has urged U.S. attorneys to contact congressional representatives who voted against a key anti-terrorism provision of the USA Patriot Act," the Washington Post's Dan Eggen reports. "An Aug. 14 memorandum from Guy A. Lewis, director of the executive office for United States Attorneys, encourages federal prosecutors 'to call personally or meet with ... congressional representatives' to discuss 'the potentially deleterious effects' of an amendment approved in the House last month that would cut off funding for 'sneak and peek' warrants in terrorism cases.
"When the House voted last week to let Americans import less expensive medicines from Canada and Europe, 53 senators signed a letter opposing the legislation, a letter that the industry trade group, which vigorously opposed the measure, hailed as proof of its argument that the bill would jeopardize patient safety," the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports. "What the trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, did not say, at the time, was that it helped coordinate the signature campaign. ...
The Traditional Values Coalition, which bills itself as a Christian advocacy group, has received money behind the scenes from the pharmaceutical industry to campaign against legislation that would enable U.S. citizens to import low-cost prescription drugs from countries like Canada. The drug industry opposes the law because it would undercut the high prices they charge in the U.S.
In the past, the lobbyists who populate Washington's K Street were about as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, a practice that ensured lobby firms would have clout no matter which party was in power. But as Republican-dominated national politics have created an increasingly one-party system, the GOP has made a determined effort to undermine the bipartisan complexion of K Street.
"America's big drug companies are intensifying their lobbying efforts to 'change the Canadian health-care system' and eliminate subsidized prescription drug prices enjoyed by Canadians," CanWest News Service reports. "A prescription drug industry spokesman in Washington confirmed to CanWest News Service that information contained in confidential industry documents is accurate and that $1 million US is being added to the already heavily funded drug lobby against the Canadian system."
While lobbyists and their employers in 39 states spent more than $715 million wining, dining and generally influencing state lawmakers in 2002, many details about how those dollars were spent remain hidden from public view, according to a comprehensive analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.