With Daniel Lippman
FIRST IN PI — BLOCKCHAIN ASSOCIATION FILLS OUT ITS D.C. TEAM: The Blockchain Association, one of the cryptocurrency industry’s largest trade groups, is adding a pair of seasoned hands to its government relations operations as the sector continues to ramp up its presence in Washington amid heightened scrutiny from lawmakers and financial regulators. Jake Chervinsky is joining the group as head of policy, and Dave Grimaldi will be head of government relations for the association, which represents more than 60 companies working in the crypto sphere.
— Chervinsky was previously general counsel at Compound Labs, the developer of a decentralized finance, or DeFi, protocol, and Grimaldi was most recently the top lobbyist for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group for the online ad industry. Grimaldi also opened the D.C. office for radio streaming service Pandora, and served as chief of staff to former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and senior counsel to her father, now-House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn — all of which he argued in an interview prepares him for the regulatory onslaught awaiting crypto.
— “I would wager that crypto issues and their complexity [are] near the top of the difficult-to-explain-and-message pyramid,” relative to his past gigs, Grimaldi told PI. “And I think that makes it especially important to bring skills that help tell a story to an audience that is either older” or who may not “live and breathe this every day,” he said, likening the challenge to introducing streaming technologies to the septuagenarians and octogenarians in Congress.
— Kristin Smith, the trade group’s executive director, said in an interview that this summer’s unsuccessful fight by the industry to narrow tax provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill forced crypto players still standing up their Washington offices to go on defense. The Blockchain Association’s lobbying spending reflected that, nearly doubling last quarter to $210,000, from $160,000 the previous three months.
— That fight “motivated a critical mass of people in the industry to focus their efforts and their resources on policy in a way that hasn’t been done at all before,” Chervinsky said. “So I think that we’re gonna see a brand new crypto lobby, and much improved and leveled up policy infrastructure for the industry here in D.C.” Smith also predicted the industry is entering a phase where it will be able to be more proactive in Washington, calling the current moment and the trade group’s new hires a moment of “maturation” for the industry.
— Despite regulators like SEC Chair Gary Gensler moving to crack down on the industry, Smith predicted the industry will ultimately score some policy wins. “From a regulatory standpoint, it’s almost as though industry and regulators are kind of building the plane while it’s in the air,” Grimaldi said. “And I think that there’s opportunity there. There’s risk, but there’s certainly opportunity there.”
Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Time flies: I’ve been at the helm of PI for exactly a year today, and I want to thank this fantastic community of readers for being so welcoming, so helpful in sending tips and other various musings and, of course, for being so quick to alert me to typos.
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NEW BUSINESS: Streaming giant Netflix has hired Ed McClellan of Covington & Burling to lobby on tax issues in Democrats’ reconciliation package, according to a disclosure filing. The company only retains two other outside firms, Monument Advocacy and Mercury Public Affairs, and reported lobbying on Democrats’ international tax proposals last quarter through Monument.
— The National Association of Broadcasters has retained an eighth outside lobbying firm. The trade group hired Mike Mullen of Empire Consulting Group to lobby on a bill that would promote diversity in ownership, a resolution opposing forcing broadcast radio stations to pay artists royalties, and the advertising tax deduction. Meanwhile, Intuit, the maker of tax prep software TurboTax, continues to expand its bench of outside lobbying firms. The company has retained Jake Perry + Partners’ Jake Perry, a former Harry Reid aide, to lobby on fintech and tax preparation issues. It’s the fourth new firm Intuit has brought on this year (though they’ve also terminated five contracts).
ANA’S JAFFE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: Dan Jaffe will retire from the Association of National Advertisers at the end of the year, after leading its government relations office in Washington for more than three decades. Jaffe joined the trade group in 1985, and spearheaded a number of policy victories for the industry — including preserving marketers’ ability to deduct ad-related expenses in the 2017 GOP tax bill, and staving off state pushes for privacy legislation cracking down on behavioral targeting. He’ll be replaced as executive vice president of government relations by Chris Oswald, currently the group’s senior vice president.
BUCK, CICILLINE TEAM UP TO TARGET ALGORITHMS: “A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has introduced a companion to a Senate bill that would let people use algorithm-free versions of tech platforms,” Axios’ Ashley Gold reports. The bill, from Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah), comes after “revelations about Facebook‘s internal research findings have renewed lawmaker interest in bills that seek to give people more of a say in how algorithms shape their online experiences.”
— “The Filter Bubble Transparency Act would require internet platforms to let people use a version of their services where content selections are not driven by algorithms.” It would “exempt smaller companies with fewer than 500 employees, those with annual gross receipts lower than $50,000,000 in the last three-year-period, and those that gather data on fewer than one million users annually.” A bipartisan companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by John Thune (R-S.D.), who plans to work with Buck on tech and antitrust issues going forward, a GOP aide told Axios , increasing the likelihood of winning more support from Senate Republicans.
ISRAELIS TO PUSH BACK ON SURVEILLANCE FIRM’S BLACKLISTING: “Hacking software sold by the NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, has been used to spy on journalists, opposition groups and rights activists. There have been so many accusations of abuse that the Biden administration slapped sanctions on the company last week,” Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley report for The New York Times.
— “But the company’s biggest backer, the government of Israel, considers the software a crucial element of its foreign policy and is lobbying Washington to remove the company from the blacklist, two senior Israeli officials said Monday.” That the accusations “have led to a breach in relations with the United States alarmed the Israeli government, the senior officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss issues of national security and diplomatic relations.”
— “In imposing the sanctions, the U.S. Commerce Department said that NSO had acted ‘contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.’ If the United States is accusing NSO of acting against its interests, the officials said, then it is implicitly accusing Israel, which licenses the software, of doing the same. The campaign to remove the sanctions against NSO and a second company, Candiru, will seek to persuade the Biden administration that their activities remain of great importance to the national security of both countries, the officials said. They also said that Israel would be willing to commit to much tighter supervision on licensing the software.”
WATCHDOG SCORCHES TRUMP OFFICIALS OVER HATCH ACT VIOLATIONS: “More than a dozen top Trump administration officials violated the terms of the Hatch Act in the run-up to the 2020 elections, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said in a report” released today, which accused the former president of blessing “what appeared to be a taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus within the upper echelons of the executive branch,” according to our Nick Niedzwiadek.
— “The list includes several Cabinet officials and top White House aides, including Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, chief of staff Mark Meadows and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The report depicts an administration that felt little obligation to the terms of the 1939 law, stating that some officials ‘intentionally ignored the law’s requirements and tacitly or expressly approved of senior administration officials violating the law.’”
— Julian Pecquet has been named Washington correspondent for the Paris-based Jeune Afrique Group, publisher of The Africa Report. He previously founded Foreign Lobby Report, which PI is devastated will be shut down, and covered foreign policy for Al-Monitor and The Hill.
— Kevin Walsh is joining Invariant. He previously was a government and regulatory affairs executive at IBM Corporation, and is an alum of former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
— Sierra Robinson has joined Citi as a director of federal government relations. She most recently was vice president of congressional and intergovernmental affairs at the Export-Import Bank and is a Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) alum.
— Brian Papp is now a managing director at FTI Government Affairs, working on the trade and labor client portfolios. He most recently was Democratic staff director on the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness.
— Sarah Boison is now digital director at the Department of Transportation. She most recently was director of digital comms at the Climate Reality Project.
— David Mann has been appointed vice president of regulatory and government affairs at Oberon Fuels. He most recently was a senior director in the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council.
Police Action Fund (Citizens for Law Enforcement, Redemption PAC)
Americans For Prosperity Now (PAC)
DEFEND AMERICAN VALUES, INC. (Super PAC)
Democracy on the Line (PAC)
Digital Asset Alliance (PAC)
Exelon Corporation-Constellation Employee Political Action Committee (CEPAC) (PAC)
Balch & Bingham, LLP: East Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Balch & Bingham, LLP: Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Burton Strategy Group: Condista Networks
Capitol Counsel LLC: Specialty Equipment Market Association
Chartwell Strategy Group LLC: Capitol Hill Partners On Behalf Of American Student Assistance
Chartwell Strategy Group LLC: Trellis Company
Covington & Burling LLP: Netflix Inc.
Empire Consulting Group: National Association Of Broadcasters
Gotham Government Relations: Texas Medical Center Supply
Greenberg Traurig, LLP: The Aaron’s Company, Inc.
Jake Perry + Partners: Intuit Inc. And Affiliates
Mclarty Inbound LLC: Hydro S.R.L.
Mr. Grant Carlisle: Cypress Creek Renewables
Solarwinds, Inc.: Solarwinds, Inc.
Summit Strategies Government Affairs LLC: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Pc On Behalf Of Pittsburgh Arena Real Estate Redeve
Williams And Jensen, Pllc: Fiber Industries, LLC
Foulston Siefkin LLP: Jay C Ewy
Henderson Strategies, Inc.: Seafood Nutrition Partnership, Inc.
Henderson Strategies, Inc.: Stronger America Through Seafood, Inc.
The Lucas Firm, LLC (F/K/A Travis Lucas): American College Of Lifestyle Medicine