Delivered daily, Influence gives you a comprehensive rundown and analysis of all lobby hires and news on K Street.
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PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ll be off for Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday but back to our normal schedule on Monday, Nov. 28.
BINANCE FORMS A PAC: The U.S. arm of the world’s largest crypto exchange has launched a political action committee coming off an election cycle flooded by contributions from crypto players — some of which are now coming under fire as the industry faces fresh apprehension from Washington regulators.
— The Binance.US Innovation PAC is the latest vehicle through which the digital currency industry will seek to make inroads in D.C. Rival crypto exchange Coinbaseformed a PAC earlier this year, and revealed that it was one of the backers of a new dark money group grading politicians on their favorability to the industry and looking to engage would-be crypto voters. In September, the industry trade group Blockchain Associationlaunched its own PAC with an eye toward the 2024 elections.
— And of course much ink has been spilled about the tens of millions of dollars given to lawmakers, congressional candidates and party committees on both sides of the aisle by executives at FTX, donations that have become toxic in the wake of the collapse of that crypto exchange earlier this month.
— The launch of Binance’s PAC comes as the exchange played a role in the demise of FTX — first selling off its holdings of FTX’s native token following a report casting doubt on FTX’s financial stability, and then backing out of its offer to bail the exchange out of its financial spiral after getting a look at FTX’s financial data.
— Binance has sought to grow its influence in Washington in other ways. The exchange retained Hogan Lovells and Ice Miller Strategies last fall after the crypto sector was blindsided by a tax provision included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill at the last minute. Since then, Binance.US has spent $880,000 lobbying to shape new regulations for the industry.
— In September, Binance tapped former Senate Finance Chair and ambassador to China Max Baucus to chair its global board of advisers, a group that also includes Democratic political strategist David Plouffe.
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BUSINESS GROUPS RATCHET UP PLEAS TO AVERT RAIL STRIKE: Washington trade associations are once again pleading for Congress to intervene in negotiations between rail workers and employers that are once again raising fears of a potential strike that could come at the height of the holiday shopping season.
— The largest freight rail union out of a dozen that must approve a proposed contract with carriers announced Monday that its members had voted to reject the tentative agreement ahead of a Dec. 4 deadline to avoid a work stoppage. The White House intervened to broker the proposal in September, staving off a potential strike with hours to spare.
— Suzanne Clark, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, asked Congress today to impose the deal negotiated by President Joe Biden, railroads and union leaders or risk “substantially” worsening inflation. Unions rejecting the deal, she said, “are going back on their word and threatening to be the grinch who stole Christmas by forcing a national rail strike.”
— The Consumer Brands Associationwarned in a letter Monday to congressional leadership and the top lawmakers on two labor and transportation committees that a strike could be “catastrophic,” cutting off “consumers’ access to everyday essentials” while costing as much as $2 billion per day.
— The group asked Congress to step in sooner rather than later to “head off supply chain catastrophe, protect American consumers and lay the groundwork for much needed operational continuity.” That call was echoed by leaders at the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
— The American Chemistry Council, which warned that its members’ products impacting everything from water treatment to energy and food production would face restrictions as soon as a week before a strike, has begun circulating an internal analysis showing a stoppage would result in a spike in consumer prices and a one percentage point decrease in GDP.
ICYMI MONDAY — HOW THE SAUDIS ARE FIGHTING FOR OIL DEPENDENCE: Saudi Arabia has developed an “aggressive long-term strategy to keep the world hooked on oil for decades to come and remain the biggest supplier as rivals slip away,” according to The New York Times’ Hiroko Tabuchi, an effort that manifested most recently in a successful Saudi push at last week’s United Nations climate summit “to block a call for the world to burn less oil.”
— In addition to the government-run oil company Saudi Aramco pouring money into research and higher education in the U.S. and abroad, the kingdom has also invested heavily in U.S. lobbying efforts, including “building alliances in American Corn Belt states that produce ethanol — a product also threatened by electric cars.”
— The Iowa-based lobbying firm LS2group “has reached states including the Dakotas, Texas, Iowa and Ohio” on behalf of Saudi Arabia. “For a retainer of more than $125,000 a month, LS2group targeted local radio hosts, academics, event planners, sports-industry officials, a former football player and a ski and snowboard club owner, according to filings with the Justice Department.”
— “Much of that campaign has been on general topics, like the history of close relations with the United States. However, states like Iowa, the nation’s top ethanol producer, could be fertile ground for the Saudis’ view on electric vehicles, said Jeff M. Angelo, a former Iowa state senator who now hosts a talk show and was approached by Saudi representatives.”
— “‘Ethanol producers here in Iowa are saying the same thing: “Isn’t it terrible that the Biden administration is forcing you to buy an electric car when we could be producing biofuels right here in Iowa, and making money, and supporting our farmers, and being energy independent?”’ he said.”
ETHICS WATCHDOG ASKS FOR PROBE OF STOCK TRADES: “A nonpartisan group that monitors government ethics filed a series of legal complaints alleging the federal government is failing to adequately enforce conflict-of-interest rules,” The Wall Street Journal’s Brody Mullins and Rebecca Ballhaus report.
— “The Campaign Legal Center called on the executive-branch agency that oversees ethics rules to investigate what it called deficiencies in enforcement at several agencies. The group also requested that internal investigators at four federal agencies examine whether their ethics programs complied with federal rules.”
— “The legal filings were prompted by a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal revealing that thousands of federal employees at 50 federal agencies held stock in companies that were regulated by the agencies where those employees worked.”
— “The agencies ‘have repeatedly allowed senior officials to own and trade stock in companies that appear to create conflicts of interest with their official duties,’ the complaint said. ‘An investigation can determine whether the scope and severity of deficiencies in the ethics programs’ guidance on financial conflicts of interest is greater than currently publicly known.’”
— CLC has filed complaints “with the inspectors general for the Environmental Protection Agency, Defense Department, Federal Trade Commission and Health and Human Services Department, in addition to the Office of Government Ethics.”
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— Stacey Dion was promoted to a partner at Carlyle. She previously served as managing director and head of global government affairs.
BAM TRADING SERVICES, INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (BINANCE.US INNOVATION PAC) (PAC) HealthEquity Purple Political Action Committee (PAC) The Kennedy Project (Hybrid PAC) Lose Cruz PAC (Super PAC) Patriotic Freedom Coalition (Super PAC) Thales USA, Inc. Political Action Committee (Thales USA PAC) (PAC)
American Defense International, Inc.: Agy Holding Corporation American Defense International, Inc.: Consortium Management Group American Defense International, Inc.: Corvent Medical American Defense International, Inc.: Impulse Space American Defense International, Inc.: Target Hospitality Biscayne Strategies, LLC: Blue Missions Group Capitol Core Group, Inc.: City Of Perris, California Capitol Tax Partners, LLP: Ge Renewables North America, LLC Dla Piper LLP (US): Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Fs Vector LLC: Electronic Transactions Association Fs Vector LLC: Payments Leadership Council Groundswell Strategy LLC: Biomerieux, Inc. J M Burkman & Associates: Adam Spindler Lot Sixteen LLC: Association Of Home Appliance Manufacturers Lot Sixteen LLC: National Wooden Pallet And Container Association Nexxus Consulting, LLC: Serrato Corporation
Mould Box Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP: Mandan Hidatsa And Akira Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes) Piper-Smith: Simmons College Of Ky Robertson, Monagle, & Eastaugh Pc (Formelry Known At Hoffman, Silver, Gilman And: Vt Halter Marine Inc