With Daniel Lippman

FREEMAN TO SUCCEED DOW AS U.S. TRAVEL CHIEF: The U.S. Travel Association, the preeminent trade group representing the travel and tourism industry, is naming Geoff Freeman its next president and chief executive. Freeman, who currently leads the Consumer Brands Association, will take the reins from U.S. Travel’s longtime chief executive, Roger Dow, beginning in September, the organization said. Dow has led the trade group since 2005 and announced his retirement last summer, kicking off a yearlong search for his successor.

— The hire amounts to a homecoming of sorts for Freeman, who spent more than seven years at U.S. Travel, rising to chief executive officer before leaving in 2013 to helm the American Gaming Association, which represents the casino industry. At U.S. Travel, Freeman helped lead the industry’s signature priority, the 2009 Travel Promotion Act and the creation of Brand USA, as well as the industry effort leading to the creation of TSA PreCheck.

— In 2018, Freeman was brought on as the head of CBA, then called the Grocery Manufacturers Association, amid an exodus of the century-old organization’s leadership and the departure of some of its most prominent members. He slashed the organization’s expenses and helmed its rebranding as a trade group representing the broader consumer packaged goods industry.

— Under Freeman, CBA grew its membership by what he said was 30 percent in the year following its rebrand, and pivoted its lobbying focus to issues like packaging sustainability and supply chain issues.

— Freeman will take over for Dow after a chaotic few years for the industry marked most prominently by the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought most travel and tourism to a screeching halt. The association has spent the past year trying to shape the industry’s recovery, most recently with a successful push for the removal of pre-departure Covid testing requirements for international travelers coming to the U.S.

— While leisure travel levels have soared since the onset of the pandemic — which has created its own strain on airlines — the travel industry has warned that business travel has had a much slower rebound, with trade groups appealing to President Joe Biden personally this spring to take action to help revive the sector.

Christine Duffy, U.S. Travel’s national chair and president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement that “Geoff is highly regarded in Washington and well known across our industry for his strategic work to conceive campaigns and programs that opened new pathways for growth in the travel economy. Now, returning to lead the association, Geoff will continue bringing a fresh and strategic approach to advancing the mission of U.S. Travel in its next era.” Duffy led the nationwide search, supported by Heidrick & Struggles.

— “We are grateful for Geoff’s many contributions to our industry during his tenure at the Consumer Brands Association,” said Jeff Harmening, the chair of CBA’s board and chief executive of General Mills. He added that “under Geoff’s leadership, Consumer Brands advanced a turnaround strategy that has transformed the organization and established it as a powerhouse association in Washington, D.C.,” while increasing revenues nearly 50 percent over the past three years. Harmening said the association will work with Freeman on a transition plan and will begin the search for his successor.

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K STREET’S HOTTEST CLUB IS: STATEHOUSES: Our Hailey Fuchs got a look at new data from OpenSecrets showing that lobbying firms, stymied by gridlock in Washington, are increasingly focusing their influence efforts on state capitals, with interest groups spending a “record $1.8 billion on state lobbying in 2021. Adjusted for inflation, the spending figure is the largest since 2019.”

— “Take the gun lobby. Less than two decades ago, firearms trade group the National Shooting Sports Foundation had registered lobbyists in just two states: California and Connecticut. Today, it has registered lobbyists in 35 states, according to data from the money-in-politics group OpenSecrets, and says it has a team big enough to have a presence in all 50 states.”

— “‘For us to work in benefit to our members as a trade association, we need to be actively engaged where the policies are being made, and the policies are not just being made in Congress,’ Mark Oliva, a spokesperson for the foundation, said in an interview. ‘The policies are being made in the state capitals.’”

— “As partisan divides ensnare congressional lawmakers in stalemates over key legislation, many lobbying firms find it faster to take their efforts to governors and state legislatures. State leaders have become as influential as they’ve ever been and are now shaping the national conversation on issues as diverse as energy policy and abortion rights. And those seeking a say in what happens in state capitals have been adapting by building out robust and sophisticated lobbying operations that stretch far beyond Washington.”

TILLIS CHIEF HEADS TO K STREET: Sen. Thom Tillis’ top aide, Ted Lehman, is leaving the Hill after more than two decades to join Todd Strategy Group as a principal. Lehman has served as chief of staff to the North Carolina Republican since 2017, and before that was a top aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

— In an interview, Lehman said that it was time to leave the Hill. “I’ve loved every minute of it, and every job that I’ve had, and every boss that I’ve had, but you know, you can’t do it forever,” he said. He noted that he’s known Todd Strategy Group’s Dan Todd since the two worked on the Judiciary Committee together under the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, and that he was drawn to the firm in part because of its “outstanding roster of clients.”

— While he plans on registering to lobby, federal ethics rules bar him from lobbying the Senate for a year. Still, “we believe that I can add value to the existing roster of clients right out of the gate,” he said, adding that he hopes to help the firm diversify and continue to grow.

INDUSTRY, GREENS PAN BIDEN CALL FOR GAS TAX: “The main trade group that represents trucking companies Wednesday came out swinging against a gas tax holiday — even though they are together some of the largest consumers of diesel fuel,” and despite the slim chances Biden’s proposal will become law, POLITICO’s Alex Daugherty reports.

— “The American Trucking Associations said proposals to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, including the 24.4 cent-per-gallon diesel tax, would not make a difference for consumers but would hurt the federal government’s ability to fund infrastructure projects.”

— “‘After months of touting the passage of the well-funded Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — a much-needed investment in our nation’s roads and bridges — the Biden Administration wants to cut that same highway system’s primary source of funding with a suspension of the federal fuel tax,’ American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement.”

— “On Wednesday, a slew of green organizations voiced opposition to a gas tax holiday, arguing that driving is uniquely bad for the environment. ‘There is a way out of this mess, but it isn’t through short-term solutions like gas tax holidays,’ Environment America‘s legislative office executive director Lisa Frank said in a statement.”

— The National Association of Manufacturers’ Jay Timmons piled on, saying in a statement that “our nation achieved historic progress with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, but this move is likely to derail its implementation by suddenly disrupting its funding, delaying critical projects that Americans desperately need and that are vital to manufacturers’ competitiveness.”

CASSIDY ADDS GOP HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STAFFER: The top Republican staffer on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has left the Hill after two decades to join Cassidy & Associates as the firm builds out its infrastructure practice. Paul Sass will be a senior vice president at the firm, helping grow their transportation chops and help clients navigate the flood of new federal spending as a result of last year’s infrastructure bill.

— “From my perspective, I can offer clients the freshest Hill perspective on things, right?” Sass said in an interview, whether that’s “insight into House politics” or “strategic advice on how to get things done.” He added that when it comes to implementing the infrastructure package, “I plan to put my experience to use as new regulations are issued with regard to that massive amount of money,” and as policymakers begin to conduct oversight on how funding is spent or determine what legislative tweaks might be necessary.

— In a statement provided by the firm, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the T&I ranking member, said that “no one has worked with more commitment and dedication to public service than Paul. I want to thank him for his service, his guidance, his loyalty, and his friendship over these last two decades. I wish him and his family the very best as he moves on to the next phase of his already accomplished career.”

FORMER MERCURY LOBBYIST HANGS A SHINGLE: Stephen Aaron has launched Perspective Strategies, a public affairs and consulting firm, to help clients navigate an increasingly polarized political climate. Aaron most recently served as managing director at Mercury Public Affairs, and said in an interview that while there he’d “seen a pattern where bringing in new perspectives was creating real results for clients,” and that he was looking to build on that strategy with the new firm.

— “Perspective is something that is largely lost on American culture at the moment,” he told PI, adding that “oftentimes, it’s understanding the perspective of a regulator” or other stakeholder that can help clients find the best solution to their problems, rather than just seeking to convey their own perspective. Political risk to companies “is accelerating, and we want to be here to help you navigate it,” he said, pointing to Disney’s clash with state leaders in Florida, which arose from discontent among employees, as a prime example.

— Several of his former clients at Mercury will join Aaron at the new firm, including InterDigital, BrightStar Home Care and AAR Corp. Aaron said that he would be filing lobbying registrations for some clients, but that other work will be mainly public affairs-based. He plans to roll out additional offerings to “assist [clients] in making better decisions around what’s going on D.C.”

John Christie is joining the Smith-Free Group as senior vice president. He previously was chief of staff for Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) and is a Frederica Wilson and Norma Torres alum.

Matthew Hart is now the director of federal government affairs for the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association. He was previously manager for government affairs at CNH Industrial.

— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has brought on Kevin Griffis to be its new associate director of communications. Griffis previously worked for Planned Parenthood, the Obama administration’s health department, and Cory Booker’s 2013 Senate campaign.

Narrative Strategies is adding Dominique McKay as senior director, Connor Gerrity as a production coordinator and Kendall Chapman as a strategic comms associate. McKay is rejoining the firm after serving as comms director for Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

Will Mesinger is now an account director with MikeWorldWide, working in their corporate reputation practice in Washington, D.C. He was previously a director at Seven Letter.

Nathan Weiss is now manager for East Coast state and local government affairs at BP. He most recently was policy director for the Democratic Governors Association.

Marie Johnson is now senior vice president of communications for US Telecom-The Broadband Association. She previously was vice president of media at the American Hospital Association.

Brian Bartlett has joined comms firm Kekst CNC as a partner and head of the firm’s D.C. office. He most recently was a partner and chair of the global corporate affairs practice at Rational 360 and is a Mitt Romney alum.

Omid Ghaffari-Tabrizi is a new member of Google Cloud’s federal civilian policy team. He was previously a principal at Monument Advocacy.

Caroline Fenyo is joining Rep. Jake Auchincloss’ (D-Mass.) office as digital press secretary and digital director for his campaign. She previously was an assistant account executive at GMMB and is a Pete for America alum.

Tom Van Dean and Russell Adam are joining the Herald Group. Van Dean will be a senior associate and currently is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and previously worked at the American Conservative Union. Adam will be an account manager and previously was a legislative assistant at Camilliere, Cloud & Kennedy.

Jake Laperruque has joined the Center for Democracy and Technology as a deputy director of the nonprofit’s Security and Surveillance Project. He was formerly senior counsel at the Project on Government Oversight.

Dan Pastore Victory Fund (Dan Pastore for Congress, Pennsylvania Democratic Party)

Politicians Dependent On All Citizens (Super PAC)
Protect-America (PAC)

Ampere Computing LLC: Ampere Computing LLC
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP: Archivox S.R.L.
Boundary Stone Partners: Form Energy
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP: Pacenation
Capitol Counsel LLC: Fox Corporation
Dentons Global Advisors Government Relations LLC: Timilon Corporation
Fgh Holdings, LLC (Formerly Known As The Glover Park Group LLC): Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc
J M Burkman & Associates: American Aviation Industries LLC
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP: Nmac
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP: Small Business Construction And Engineering Coalition (Informal Coalition)
K&L Gates, LLP: Robotic Research Opco, LLC
Liebman & Associates, Inc.: Freyr Battery, Kspjv, LLC
Maynor & Stiers, LLC: Concordia Technologies, LLC
Maynor & Stiers, LLC: Qualis Corporation
Missy Edwards Strategies, LLC: Nccmp
Monument Advocacy: Peraton
Monument Advocacy: Seagate Technology LLC
Moran Strategic Consulting, LLC.: Tetra Technologies, Inc.
Nexxus Consulting, LLC: Santa Cruz County
Passage Consulting Group LLC: Cubic Corporation
Passage Consulting Group LLC: Olin Corporation
Passage Consulting Group LLC: Tamarack Aerospace Group
Podesta.Com: Gemcorp Capital Management Limited
Stonington Global: Rotislav Pukshansky
Strategics Consulting, LLC: City Of Shelby, Nc
The Peterson Group Inc: Kansas Livestock Association
The Petrizzo Group, Inc.: Dysautonomia International
The Petrizzo Group, Inc.: National Down Syndrome Society

Paw And Associates: The Chamber
US Strategies: Airspan Networks Inc
US Strategies: Kpc Group

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