Business groups add to chorus pushing to enact anti-counterfeits bill

With Daniel Lippman

BUSINESS GROUPS ADD TO CHORUS CALLING FOR INFORM ACT: A coalition of the country’s largest business, retail and manufacturing trade groups is renewing pressure on lawmakers negotiating China competitiveness legislation to retain a key anti-counterfeits provision in the final package, the latest grouping to do so as big box retailers and online marketplaces alike coalesce behind the provision, known as the INFORM Consumers Act.

— “The INFORM Consumers Act will help keep Americans safe by mandating verification of a seller’s identity as a deterrent to the sale of stolen and fake goods by nefarious criminal networks misusing online marketplaces,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and National Retail Federation wrote to congressional leadership today. “Enacting this legislation will also provide law enforcement with additional tools to stop and prosecute these criminal rings from selling illicit goods,” the group argued.

— The INFORM Consumers Act, which seeks to crack down on a surge of counterfeit and stolen goods online, would require online marketplaces to take steps to verify the identity of high-volume sellers and provide some of that information to customers. It’s one of two bills aimed at addressing those issues that were included in the House-passed China competition package that lawmakers are currently trying to reconcile with the Senate-passed version.

— The second bill, the SHOP SAFE Act, would hold e-commerce platforms liable for counterfeit products sold on their platforms unless they take a specific set of preventive measures, and it has become the main target of opposition from online marketplace and tech lobbying groups, trademark academics and some Democrats.

— Just last week, the Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers, which represents online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, Mercari and Poshmark and pushed for changes to INFORM Consumers, laid out its priorities for the China bill’s conference committee. Those included retaining INFORM Consumers but stripping out SHOP SAFE and amending the Country of Origin Labeling Act section, to include an exemption for small sellers, among other things, Huddle reported. Retailers and trade groups like NAM have long lobbied for both bills.

Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Got a lobbying tip? Get in touch: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

FIRST IN PI — MESSER SCHOOL CHOICE GROUP ADDS AFC VETS: Invest in Education, the school choice advocacy group led by former Rep. Luke Messer, has brought on John Schilling and Greg Brock of the American Federation for Children as senior advisers. Schilling served as AFC’s president until stepping down last year to consult for the pro-school voucher group, while Greg Brock was previously chief executive for the group, whose prominent alumni include former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

— In an interview, Schilling said that Invest in Education, which pushes school choice policies at the federal level “in ways that respect federalism,” believes the spotlight on education issues in recent years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic presents “a great window of opportunity” for the group. “I mean, obviously, the landscape in Congress of this year may not be conducive to moving new federal school choice legislation, but, you know, the landscape may change come January,” he said, alluding to the potential for Republicans to retake control of Congress in the midterms.

TECH GROUPS SHELL OUT AS ANTITRUST BILL INCHES AHEAD: “Big Tech is going all out against a key antitrust bill winding its way through the Senate towards a possible full-chamber vote,” Axios’ Ashley Gold and Alayna Treene report. “Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) want to get their bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, on the Senate floor this summer before time and momentum run out” — though a revised version of the bill seeking to incorporate feedback from skeptical lawmakers and industry has thus far failed to assuage their concerns entirely.

— “Tech companies are shelling out millions per quarter on lobbying. Apple spent more on lobbying last quarter ($2.5 million) than in any previous quarter. There are numerous ad campaigns against the legislation from groups like the Consumer Technology Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which spent $22 million on ads across more than 30 broadcast and cable markets in the week of May 27, according to advertising intelligence firm AdImpact.”

— “CCIA’s ‘Don’t Break What Works’ campaign, which warns about what the bill could do to consumers’ cell phones and online services, has spent nearly $2.8 million on just Facebook and Instagram ads, per Meta‘s ad disclosure database. Since the introduction of the bill, Big Tech has argued that everything from small business’ search results to Amazon Prime to a secure phone ecosystem could be in jeopardy.”

— Speaking of, if you missed it Friday, POLITICO’s Emily Birnbaum reports that Amazongave marching orders to one of its consultants: Push hard on the narrative that legislation to rein in Amazon’s power will harm communities of color.” She cited “an email exchange mistakenly forwarded to POLITICO” in which “Amazon spokesperson Julia Lawless asked a consultant with FTI Consulting to press media outlets to report on a letter from a minority group criticizing” Klobuchar and Grassley’s bill.

KNOWING RICHARD UIHLEIN: “Ten years ago, Richard Uihlein, a Midwestern shipping supplies magnate, was a little-known player in the campaign finance world, with scant national media attention, his political giving barely placing him among the top 70 US political donors,” Financial Times’ Courtney Weaver and Caitlin Gilbert report.

— “But 19 months into the 2022 midterm election cycle, Uihlein has given more than any other Republican so far, becoming a megadonor with the potential to take up the mantle of the once pre-eminent Koch brothers, whose standing in the party has fallen in the post-Trump landscape.”

— “According to a Financial Times analysis of federal and state campaign finance records and data from OpenSecrets, Uihlein is now the largest donor behind the biggest anti-abortion political action committee, the Susan B Anthony List-affiliated Women Speak Out. … Politically, Uihlein has been one of the biggest funders of former president Donald Trump and was one of the biggest financial backers of the January 6 pro-Trump ‘March to Save America’ rally that preceded the deadly Capitol Hill insurrection.”

— “So far in the 2022 cycle, his political giving trails only that of Democrat George Soros. Uihlein’s prolific giving is emblematic of a new type of donor for the Republican party, which saw a new, more geographically diverse group begin to back the party during Trump’s campaigns, even as some older establishment donors retreated to the sidelines.”

— “The Uihlein family did not return request for comment, placed through the company. Yet Republicans who know the couple said it was clear what was motivating the family’s increased giving: the forthcoming midterm elections, where Republicans stand a good chance of taking back the House and the Senate; and increased opportunities to boost candidates whose ideology aligned with Uihlein’s own.”

​​DENTONS GOVERNMENT RELATIONS ADDS 6: Dentons Global Advisors Government Relations, the new lobbying arm of the law firm Dentons, has added Pat Casey, Michael Drobac and Greg Walden as partners and Sean Brebbia, Margeaux Plaisted and Lara Tennyson as associate partners.

— Casey joins DGA from Elliott Greenleaf, where he focused on commercial litigation representing labor unions, businesses, and civic and nonprofit organizations and Brebbia joins after serving time as oversight and investigations counsel for the Senate Banking Committee. Drobac, Walden, Plaisted and Tennyson all moved over from Dentons.

OLSON PLEADS GUILTY: “A former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges in connection with a secret lobbying campaign on behalf of Qatar to influence the Trump White House and Congress in 2017, after implicating a retired four-star American general in the effort,” The Washington Post’s Spencer Hsu reports.

— “Richard G. Olson, a 34-year career Foreign Service officer who served as the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2015 until 2016, admitted to lying in ethics paperwork and violating revolving-door laws by lobbying for Qatar within a year of retiring from federal service.”

— “In pre-plea proceedings in federal court in Washington, Olson’s defense counsel said he admitted to the misdemeanor charges — each punishable by up to one year in prison at his sentencing Sept. 13 — and cooperated with federal prosecutors on the understanding that they were also investigating and pursuing criminal charges against retired four-star Marine Gen. John G. Allen. The latter commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring in 2013. He was tapped in late 2017 as president of Washington’s influential Brookings Institution, to which Qatar agreed in 2013 to donate $14.8 million over four years.”

3OH DAO STAFFS UP: ThreeOhDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization focused on electing lawmakers who support Web 3.0, has announced a new leadership team ahead of the midterms. Dave Barmore, co-founder of the advisory firm Runway Strategies and an Uber and House alum, will be the group’s campaign and public affairs director, leading the day-to-day operations of 3OH’s policy and advocacy work in Washington.

— The group has added Lindsey Schulte, a DCCC alum, to develop the group’s donor and giving strategy for its super PAC, Web 3.0 PAC. Web 3.0 is billed as the next generation of the internet with an emphasis on decentralization made possible by the use of blockchain technology. Jennifer Mullin will lead strategic communications for 3OH. She previously worked for former Sen. Tom Harkin and has led public affairs campaigns at Exelon, Uber and the Glover Park Group (now Finsbury Glover Hering).

Christopher Johnstone has been appointed as Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He most recently served on the staff of the National Security Council as director for East Asia.

​​Chris Czarnecki has joined Capstone National Partners as an associate. He previously served as government relations manager for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and is a Jim Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan alum. The firm has also added Susan Nilon.

Sandra Swirski, co-founder of Urban Swirski & Associates, today launched Integer, a new advocacy firm that will help clients with economic and nonprofit policy issues. She’s joined at the firm by four former Urban Swirski staffers: Vice President Sara Barba, assistant Vice President Ali Bedford, senior government relations associate Grant Berkshire and government relations associate Geoff Paul.

Tamara Smith is joining PLUS Communications as a public affairs partner. She most recently was group vice president for partnerships and strategy at Spectrum Networks and is an Obama and George W. Bush FCC alum.

Jelena McWilliams, Elad Roisman and Jennifer Leete are joining Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s newly opened D.C. office. McWilliams will be a managing partner and previously was chair of the FDIC. Roisman will be a resident in the corporate department and previously was a commissioner and acting chair at the SEC. Leete will be a resident in the litigation department and previously was associate director of enforcement at the SEC.

Benjamin Teicher is now associate director of media relations for the American Hospital Association. He was previously media relations manager at West Health.

— The Rare Disease Company Coalition has added Amanda Malakoff as its next executive director. She was most recently senior director of member relations for the National Association of Manufacturers.

Chris Sharrock has been promoted to be vice president for U.N. affairs and international organizations at Microsoft. He joined Microsoft last October after working for 18 years in the U.K. government, including serving as ambassador to the OECD.

Kirsten Beronio is now senior adviser on mental health and substance use disorder issues for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services at CMS. She previously was director of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare.

Jennifer Donohue will now be director of strategic communications to the chair of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. She previously was senior communications adviser in the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs.

Cornelius McGrath is a new member of the government affairs team at Apple. He was previously a vice president of federal affairs at the Motion Picture Association.

Chris Lisi is a new director on the strategic response for emerging regulations at Google. She was previously the principal at Lisi Communications.

Maggie Amjad is now assistant speechwriter/press assistant for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). She most recently was a digital strategy intern for the Center for American Progress.

Emma Waters is now a research associate for the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Life, Religion and Family. She previously was coalitions manager at American Moment.

Brian Toro is now public affairs manager for New Jersey Resources. He previously was a director at Mercury.

EDWARDS VICTORY FUND (Chuck Edwards for Congress, North Carolina Republican Party)
McCLINTOCK JFC (Rep. Tom McClintock, Taking Our Majority PAC, NRCC)
NC OH PA Victory Fund (Reps. Cheri Beasley, Tim Ryan, Fetterman for PA, North Carolina Democratic Party – Federal, Ohio Democratic Party, Pennsylvania Democratic Party)
North Carolina Nevada Victory Fund (Rep. Cheri Beasley, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto)
Vance Victory (J.D. Vance for Senate Inc., Working for Ohio, Ohio Republican Party State Central & Executive Committee)

American Liberty Project (Super PAC)
Cattle Raisers Federal PAC (PAC)
GOA Victory Fund (PAC)
KYLE PAC Knowledgeable unYielding Leadership Experienced (Leadership PAC: Kyle Stonner Labrue)
Left Democrats For America (Super PAC)
SOS4America PAC (Hybrid PAC)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Global Laser Enrichment, LLC
Cypress Advocacy, LLC: Commercial Real Estate Exchange, Inc.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Accolade
Venable LLP: Npower Inc.

2020 Strategies LLC: American Federation For Children
Fulcrum Public Affairs LLC: US Against Alzheimers
Randolph Delay: American Short Line And Regional Railroad Association
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: Chg Healthcare Services
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: Council Of Michigan Foundations
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: National Restaurant Association
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: Philanthropy Roundtable
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: Reinsurance Group Of America, Incorporated
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: Upbring
Urban Swirski & Associates, LLC: World Gold Council

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