Daily Crypto News

Perlmutter lands on K Street

With Daniel Lippman

FIRST IN PI — HOLLAND & KNIGHT NABS PERLMUTTER: The 117th Congress ended officially only a little over a day ago and already a new member of its ranks has landed on K Street. Former Rep. Ed Perlmutter is joining Holland & Knight as a partner in the firm’s Washington and Denver offices.

— The eight-term Colorado Democrat told PI he went with Holland & Knight in part because of people he already knew at the firm, as well as its reputation both inside the Beltway and beyond, and chalked up his quick trip through the revolving door to his wife’s insistence that he not stay home upon his retirement.

— Perlmutter said he plans on registering to lobby eventually and while federal law bars him from lobbying his former colleagues on the Hill for one year, he’s free to advise clients on their legislative strategy and lobby the Biden administration right away, so long as it’s not on behalf of a foreign government or political party.

— There will be plenty of opportunity to shape policy in the executive branch as the administration works to implement major legislation like the bipartisan infrastructure bill, CHIPS and Science Act and reconciliation package.

— “There are some major pieces of legislation that will be implemented over the next few years, and I can see the firm and I can see myself being involved in quite a few things related to those bills,” said Perlmutter, who sat on the House Science Committee that helped craft the CHIPS bill. Helping clients capitalize on and navigate those bills “will keep a lot of people busy,” he predicted.

— Holland & Knight is one of the top-earning lobbying shops on K Street, reporting almost $32 million in lobbying revenues through the first three quarters of 2022 from a lengthy roster of clients that includes Amazon, Mastercard, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Western Union and more in addition to trade groups, colleges and other organizations and municipalities like San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Tampa and Philadelphia that will be eager to cash in on a gusher of new federal funding.

— The former congressman said he expects to work on a “broad portfolio” with an emphasis on aerospace, federal research labs and financial services — Perlmutter most recently chaired the House Financial Services Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee.

— Perlmutter also expects to work from the outside on an issue that became one of his marquee priorities in Congress: the passage of marijuana banking legislation that once again fell short of becoming law at the end of last year. “I think if it moved in the ordinary course, through regular order, I think it has plenty of votes in both houses,” he said of the bill’s prospects in the new Congress.

— Perlmutter is, of course, not the first member of this year’s class of retiring or defeated lawmakers to land on K Street, behind North Carolina Democrat G.K. Butterfield, who joined McGuireWoods and Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle, who’s now with K&L Gates. Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela resigned his south Texas seat last spring to join Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and GOP Rep. Tom Reed of New York also resigned last year to take a lobbying gig at Prime Policy Group.

Hello and welcome to PI. Which will happen first? The House elects a Speaker or your host writes the correct new year on the first try? Send your bets and lobbying tips: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

WHERE SOROS SPREAD HIS MONEY: “A nonprofit financed by billionaire George Sorosquietly donated $140 million to advocacy organizations and ballot initiatives in 2021, plus another $60 million to like-minded charities,” CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports.

— “Soros, who personally donated $170 million during the 2022 midterms to Democratic candidates and campaigns on top of that, spread the additional largess through the Open Society Policy Center — a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that falls under the Soros-funded Open Society Foundations network, according to a copy of its 2021 tax filing, which was obtained by CNBC and is the most recent data available. The Open Society Policy Center also doled out $138 million to advocacy groups and causes in 2020.”

— “The donations bring Soros’ contributions to political campaigns and causes since January 2020 to roughly half a billion dollars — at the least — most of it steered through dark money nonprofit groups and going largely toward political causes aligned with the Democratic Party.”

— “Many of the Open Society Policy Center’s 2021 donations weren’t necessarily earmarked to help sway the midterm elections, according to the foundation’s website. At the same time, Tom Watson, an editorial director at the Open Society Foundations, conceded in an email to CNBC that ‘there are definitely some OSPC grants that went to organizations working to combat voter suppression, support voter registration and expand civic participation.’”

MORRELL LANDS AT TENEO:Geoff Morrell has joined global CEO consultancy Teneo as its president for global strategy and communications. Morrell was most recently chief corporate affairs officer at Walt Disney Co., but fell victim to leadership shakeups at the entertainment giant stemming in part from its fumbled response to anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida that won Disney animosity on virtually all sides.

— Prior to that, Morrell was a top comms and advocacy executive with BP and a Pentagon spokesperson. “Few in our industry have had more experience and success navigating the intersection of media, government and business as Geoff,” Teneo chief executive Paul Keary said in a statement. “He is truly one of the leading strategic communications and public affairs professionals in the world and when he became available we were determined to add him to our team.”

— Teneo has itself undergone leadership changes in the past two years. Co-founder Declan Kelly resigned as CEO in 2021 after alleged inappropriate behavior toward women at a music festival and another co-founder, former Clinton confidant Doug Band, left the advisory firm the year prior.

Last year, it acquired the D.C. consultancy WestExec Advisors, which counts top Biden administration officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, deputy CIA Director David Cohen and deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco as alumni.

CRYPTO COUNCIL HIRES AIDE OF CRYPTO DETRACTOR: As the crypto industry looks ahead at a potentially bleak new year in Washington, one of the sector’s top trade groups has brought on a top aide to one of Congress’ biggest industry critics. Robert Robilliard has joined the Crypto Council for Innovation, whose members include Block, Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz, Paradigm and Gemini, as a director of government affairs.

— Robilliard was most recently a policy adviser to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who in the past two months has called the sector “a garden of snakes” and decried “efforts by billionaire crypto bros to deter meaningful legislation by flooding Washington with millions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying spending.” The group has also hired Yaya Fanusie, currently an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, as director of anti-money laundering and cyber risk.

EV TRADE GROUP TAPS AL GORE III: “The new head of the Zero Emission Transportation Association comes in with a big name in climate change advocacy. The organization this week named Al Gore III to be its new executive director,” E&E News’ Timothy Cama writes.

— “Gore, 40, joins the advocacy group after six years of working in policy advocacy roles at Tesla Inc. and a year at SolarCity Corp. before its acquisition by Tesla. He is the youngest child and only son of former Vice President Al Gore, an outspoken environmental champion.”

— “The group represents charging companies; electric utilities; companies involved in minerals important to EV production, including miners; and EV manufacturers, but only those that make solely electric vehicles,” including Tesla. “It advocates for rapid electrification of vehicles, with a goal for all new vehicles sold by 2030 to be electric.”

— “Gore told E&E News that he sees his hiring as part of a major transition for ZETA, after it won major priorities in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Democrat-only Inflation Reduction Act and can now focus on working to shape implementation of those laws in the Biden administration, while pushing its message in states and to the public.”

Joe Britton, the former Democratic Senate aide who launched ZETA, will step back from managing day-to-day operations at the group but remain involved as he focuses on Pioneer Public Affairs, the environment-focused lobbying firm he launched in 2020.

ICYMI — SBF PLEADS NOT GUILTY:FTX founder Sam Bankman-Friedpleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday to criminal charges alleging the disgraced crypto industry titan led a massive international scheme that siphoned billions of dollars from consumers and investors,” POLITICO’s Sam Sutton reports.

— “The 30-year-old onetime political megadonor faces eight counts of wire fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations and could spend decades in prison if he’s convicted.

— “Federal prosecutor Danielle Sassoon said during the arraignment hearing that the evidence will show Bankman-Fried oversaw a ‘wide-ranging fraud’ that used billions of dollars in FTX customer crypto assets to prop up his affiliated hedge fund, Alameda Research. Stolen customer funds were routinely laundered through philanthropic donations, political contributions and venture investments, Sassoon said.”

— “Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York set a tentative date of Oct. 2 for the trial.” He granted a request from prosecutors for stricter conditions on Bankman-Fried’s bail that “prohibit him from accessing or transferring any assets belonging to the failed crypto exchange and Alameda … after a little more than $1 million in crypto assets were moved from digital wallets belonging to Alameda late last week.”

Peter Fise has joined Tarplin, Downs & Young. He was most recently health counsel to Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and is a Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Bipartisan Policy Center alum.

David Coffield is joining the International Foodservice Distributors Association as the director for policy and government affairs. He was previously director of government affairs for Humanity Forward and is a Steve Scalise (R-La.) alum.

Jay Walker is joining LINK Public Affairs as a partner. He’s a longtime Georgia GOP strategist who previously served as senior political adviser on Gov. Brian Kemp’s reelection.

ROKK Solutions has promoted John Brandt to senior vice…

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