August 9, 2022


Let'S Talk Law

Top House Intel staffer, former Schiff chief departs for K Street


With Daniel Lippman

HOGAN LOVELLS ADDS SCHIFF AIDE: Tim Bergreen, a top aide to House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for the last two decades, has left the Hill to join Hogan Lovells as a partner. Bergreen, who most recently was Democratic staff director on the Intelligence Committee for six years and for a dozen before that served as Schiff’s chief of staff, told PI he’d always targeted the 2020 election as a likely endpoint for his Hill career but conceded that the workload of the Trump presidency had weighed on him. “Nobody can work as the staff director of the [committee] under the circumstances that I worked under for the last four years and not get worn out after a while,” he said.

— But he added that he was able to take his international affairs and insight about the way Congress interacts with the executive branch and business world with a focus on space and national security, and apply it at a global firm. Bergreen said he plans to register to lobby “consistent with” ethics regulations. He also intends to incorporate politics — which his committee was plunged into over the last four years — into his role at the firm not because he would want “to behave as a political animal,” but because these days, “everything’s politicized in this country,” he argued. “And so if you don’t sort of take that into account, you may win the argument on the merits but lose it, you know, at the end of the day.”

FORMER USDA, STABENOW AIDE JOINS FINSBURY GLOVER HERING: Finsbury Glover Hering, known as Glover Park Group before a merger earlier this year, has expanded its food and agricultural practice with the addition of Karla Thieman. Thieman was most recently at the consultancy The Russell Group and before that was chief of staff to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during his first run at the job during the Obama administration. She also spent five years on the Senate Agriculture Committee, including under current Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Thieman will be tasked with helping run what she called FGH’s “ever-growing” climate list for the practice, she said in an interview. Thieman said she was eager to incorporate strategic communications into her day-to-day lobbying, while focusing on issues like climate and sustainability as well as rural broadband and biofuels as Congress hashes out its infrastructure framework.

Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Send K Street tips and musings: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

THE INTERNET ASSOCIATION’S COMEDOWN: POLITICO’s Emily Birnbaum is out with a great look at the disarray within the Internet Association, once one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent advocates in D.C. that is now being roiled by staff turnover and the fragmentation of the tech industry’s lobbying interests and is staying on the sidelines during one of the industry’s most hot-button policy threats.

— “The association’s internal dysfunction has … diminished its impact in Congress and in public debates about Silicon Valley’s expanding array of lawsuits, legislation and regulatory threats. In short, ‘they’re irrelevant,’ one Democratic congressional aide said. In its place, other tech-focused advocacy groups — including a new startup headed by a former Google executive — have stepped into the void to speak for the companies on antitrust, a hot policy topic that IA declines to weigh in on.”

— “IA still boasts a roster of 41 member companies, including trillion-dollar colossuses Google, Amazon and Facebook, although several of them are considering giving significantly less money to the group annually, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The group’s total revenue was around $10 million in 2019. In addition to other factors, such as escalating competition among the group’s member companies, nine of the people who spoke to POLITICO attributed its woes to staff unhappiness with CEO Dane Snowden, who took over in February after a nearly yearlong search following Beckerman’s departure. Eight of these people said Snowden and his executive team have sidelined and aggravated longtime experts within the organization with a top-down leadership style that staff described as disrespectful.”

OOPSIES: Michèle Flournoy, a co-founder of the consulting firm WestExec Advisors and once considered a top contender for the position of Defense secretary, denounced an Iranian opposition group whose conference she spoke at over the weekend, The Daily Beast’s Justin Rohrlich reports, saying that she was “unaware” of its controversial history. The conference, which happens more or less annually, was put on by an affiliate of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq or MEK, a opposition group that’s waged a decadeslong campaign against Iran’s theocratic regime. The MEK was designated in the U.S. as a terrorist outfit for 15 years before it was delisted in 2012 after an intense lobbying campaign, and some analysts now describe the group as a cult. The conference also drew more than two dozen current and former members of Congress and the Trump administration including Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and former secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton, according to a recap posted on the group’s website.

— “When she agreed to the engagement, Ms. Flournoy was unaware of the affiliation,” a spokesperson for Flournoy, who served as undersecretary of Defense for policy during the Obama administration, told the site. “She would not have participated had she known of it, and she refused payment for the engagement once she learned of it. She has no affiliation with the MEK and will never appear at their conference again.” Though Flournoy was ultimately not tapped to lead the Pentagon, a fellow WestExec co-founder, Tony Blinken, is now secretary of State, and the firm has supplied the administration with more than a dozen top staffers.

CHECKING IN ON THE RICCHETTI BROS: Jeff Ricchetti, “the brother and former business partner of a top White House adviser, has been hired to lobby Democratic senators to oppose a central plank of President Biden’s legislative agenda that would raise taxes on the inheritors of large estates,” The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer, Jeff Stein and Sean Sullivan report.

— Ricchetti “is helping to lead an effort by a life insurance trade group to preserve the practice of ‘stepping up’ the basis for capital gains taxes when property is inherited. Under the current system, wealthy heirs pay capital gains taxes only on increases in value that occur after they take possession of property. Under the Biden proposal, they would pay capital gains taxes from the time the property was first acquired by the previous owner.” At the same time Steve Ricchetti, Jeff’s brother and a senior counselor to the president, has “been working against his efforts by championing Biden’s proposal on Capitol Hill, including a crucial part of the administration’s plan to pay for upcoming spending programs.”

— “Biden singled out the provision” in a speech last week, “calling it a ‘loophole’ and saying that closing it would generate $400 billion in government revenue. That would cover the cost of extending the child tax credit under his American Families Plan, Biden said.” For Ricchetti’s client Finseca, a trade group representing financial planners that has retained Jeff Ricchetti’s services for close to two decades, according to lobbying disclosures (which also show that Steve Ricchetti lobbied on the account before leaving K Street in 2009), “the proposed change would add unworkable complexity to the tax code, forcing those who inherit large amounts of property to uncover the original costs of those assets and come up with cash to pay the tax after a death.”

HAITIAN OPPOSITION LEADER HIRED D.C. LOBBYIST DAYS BEFORE PRESIDENT’S ASSASSINATION: “Haitian opposition leader Pierre Reginald Boulos has hired a lobbyist as part of an effort to build support for his political party and encourage President Joe Biden to support an interim Haitian government,” POLITICO’s Theo Meyer reports. “Art Estopinan, a former chief of staff to former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a onetime chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, registered on Thursday as a foreign agent working for Boulos.”

— “Boulos hired Estopinan on Monday, Estopinan said, two days before Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated, further destabilizing the impoverished Caribbean country, which has faced deepening political turmoil in recent months. Boulos and his MTVAyiti party had been critical of Moïse for staying on as president past Feb. 7, which they argue was the end of his term. But Boulos has said the opposition had no role in his killing. ‘We condemn the killing strongly, very strongly,’ he said in an interview. ‘It’s a sad time for Haiti. It’s a dark day for Haiti.’ Boulos, a wealthy businessman, said he hired Estopian to represent him in Washington ‘to give me access to the U.S. administration so I can promote my vision of the new Haiti.’”

Melissa Chandler Murphy is now director of stakeholder engagement at Duke Energy. She was previously chief of staff to Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) and is a Joe Wilson alum.

Alex Parker has joined Capitol Counsel as a principal. Parker was previously a senior tax correspondent with Law360, and as a reporter with Bloomberg Tax.

Vicente Garcia has been promoted to be senior director for engagement and external affairs at the Atlantic Council. He most recently was director for events and special initiatives at the think tank.

Jenny Faubert has joined Career Education Colleges and Universities as vice president of communications. Jenny was previously editor in chief at Career Education Review, which CECU recently acquired.

David Daniels is joining Tyson Foods as a senior specialist for state and local government affairs. He was most recently the communications coordinator for the Socrates Program/Representative Democracy at the Aspen Institute and is a Jeff Sessions, Luther Strange, Congressional Black Caucus and Joe Kennedy III alum.

Farmers Business Network has hired Ken Barbic as head of policy and global government relations. Barbic previously served as assistant secretary for the Office of Congressional Relations at USDA.

Bob Poulin is joining Ogilvy’s D.C. office to head the government practice as managing director and chief growth officer. He previously was chief growth officer at agencyQ.

Giovanna Gray Lockhart is now a senior adviser at PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States. She most recently was chief strategy officer at The Riveter and is a Kirsten Gillibrand alum.

Kara Brooks is now director of corporate comms for SHRM. She most recently was director of comms for former second lady Karen Pence.


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