Las Vegas tragedy reawakens calls for gun control
The horrific mass murder that took place in Las Vegas late Sunday night will not soon be forgotten. Like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, this one will long remain in the minds of most Americans, mostly for its random cruelty.
The Florida delegation reacted like most Americans, expressing shock, horror and gratitude. Like most Americans, Democrats and Republicans are divided on the cause of the rampage and what to do going forward.
Panama City Republican Neal Dunn exemplified the GOP response by expressing feelings of being “heartbroken” while thanking the police and first responders “who took immediate action.” Republican Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach and Daniel Webster of Orlando, among others, also praised first responders “and the brave men and women who risked their own lives,” whom Webster described as “good Samaritans.’
Not one from the GOP mentioned guns, but Democrats from across the country made access to guns an important part of their responses together with condolences and thanks to first responders.
Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach tweeted a photo of her colleagues gathering on the steps of the Capitol saying “Prayers & moments of silence are not enough — we need action NOW.” Ted Deutch of Boca Raton said when loved ones “die of cancer, we vow to eradicate cancer. Today, we must vow to eradicate gun violence. And mean it.”
We gather today to honor the victims of heartbreaking Las Vegas shooting. Prayers & moments of silence are not enough-we need action NOW. pic.twitter.com/rnDXrirBK2
— Rep. Lois Frankel (@RepLoisFrankel) October 4, 2017
Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy said to Las Vegas “From one community touched by senseless gun violence to another — we’re here for you.” She pointed to her bill in the House of Representatives that would facilitate research into gun violence.
In calling for a ban on assault weapons, Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens said: “I cannot think of a single justification for allowing civilian individuals to own semi-automatic assault weapons.”
Alcee Hastings of Miramar said, “Republican Members of Congress have a bad habit of ignoring the devastation brought by gun violence, siding instead with the extreme voices of their party.”
The public pronouncements show that even on an issue such as the senseless murders of 58 of their fellow Americans, opportunities for division are not wasted. Calls to just “do something” are not likely to bear fruit, while Wilson’s request to ban assault weapons will have some bipartisan support, at least while the tragedy is at the forefront of conversation.
On Wednesday, Sen. Bill Nelson introduced a bill banning “bump stocks,” the device used by the Las Vegas killer which, in effect, turned a semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun. Frankel indicated she would announce a similar bill in the House Friday, while news reports indicated Republican Carlos Curbelo of Kendall was also working on a bipartisan bill to do the same.
Until then, all we have is shock, horror and gratitude.
Rubio, Nelson push legislation to provide more emergency responders
The second term Republican, along with several of his colleagues who have seen firsthand the enormous damage left behind by hurricanes and natural disasters, is looking to get quickly obtain further assistance from the federal government. He has proposed bipartisan legislation to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fill vacant emergency response positions temporarily.
“With two months left of hurricane season and ongoing threats from regimes overseas, we cannot afford to be ill-prepared to quickly and efficiently respond to another emergency,” said Rubio. “Due to natural attrition and devastating hurricanes this year, our emergency response personnel are exhausted and stretched thin, and there are worries that we would have difficulty deploying the medical response teams necessary to adequately aid Americans should the need occur in the near future.”
The bill would give HHS direct hiring authority, for a limited amount of time, to fill the vacant positions. Rubio points out Congress gave HHS similar power last year to respond to the Zika virus.
Ironically, with last week’s resignation of Tom Price, the position of Secretary of HHS is also vacant.
The bill is co-sponsored by Democrat and fellow Floridian Bill Nelson, Texas Republican John Cornyn, and Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy.
Rubio not looking to be next Foreign Relations chair
Florida’s junior senator is not looking to leapfrog over a GOP colleague to become the new Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. With the announced retirement of Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, the current chairman, the committee will see a new leader in January 2019.
Rubio is the third-ranking Republican on the committee by service. Immediately behind Corker is Idaho’s Jim Risch.
Rubio’s name was mentioned as a possible successor to the chairman after Corker announced his plans not to seek re-election. No one would be surprised if Rubio expressed an interest in the post, but said he would not be part of an effort to shuffle Risch aside.
“If Jim Risch wants to be chairman, I’ll support him,” Rubio told reporters last week.
For his part, Risch is noncommittal.
“Right now, I’m a committee chairman of another committee. I’ve got 15 months left to serve there,” Risch told Capitol Hill reporters. “I’m totally focused on that. When we’re done with this, you all will know exactly where this is going.”
There is a recent precedent for leapfrogging. When Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz recently left Congress and his role as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the most senior member was not chosen.
South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy was handed the gavel over Ohio Republican and Freedom Caucus stalwart Jim Jordan.
Nelson asks Senate committee to look into nursing home deaths
The three-term Democrat wants the Senate Finance Committee to investigate the deaths of 12 residents of a Hollywood nursing home. The tragedy occurred when the facility lost air conditioning during Hurricane Irma.
While the state is also looking into the tragedy, Nelson is asking the Senate panel to look into the facility’s certification and if the state properly monitored its emergency plan.
“Because the certification for a skilled nursing facility is subject to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) approval, and the Senate Committee on Finance has jurisdiction over the Medicare and Medicaid programs, I urge the committee to use its authority to conduct a complete investigation into the State of Florida’s certification of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills to determine what led to the death of 12 seniors there in the wake of Hurricane Irma,” Nelson said in a letter to committee chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and ranking member Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.
“The findings of such an investigation by your committee will help us understand what went so terribly wrong in Hollywood and what needs to be done to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again,” he wrote.
Nelson is a member of the committee.
Instagram of the week
Delegation splits on House late-term abortion ban bill
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, mainly along party lines. H.R. 36 would ban abortions after 20 weeks, stating “an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.”
“By passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and banning late-term abortion, we stand to protect the innocent and defenseless,” said Republican Neal Dunn of Panama City. “As a doctor, I believe in science, and a substantial body of research has found that unborn babies can feel pain at 20 weeks and that late-term abortions pose significant health risks to the life of the mother.”
The bill contains exceptions to protect the life and physical health of the mother as well as an exception for victims of rape.
Arizona Republican Trent Franks sponsored H.R. 36, co-sponsored by 182 colleagues, including 9 Florida Republicans. Delegation co-sponsors included Dunn, Matt Gaetz from Ft. Walton Beach, John Rutherford from Jacksonville, Ted Yoho from Gainesville, Daniel Webster of Orlando, Gus Bilirakis from New Port Richey, Dennis Ross of Lakeland, Tom Rooney of Okeechobee and Francis Rooney of Naples.
“Today, I was proud to cast a vote for life,” said Rutherford. “The United States is one of only seven countries worldwide who allow elective abortions after 20 weeks; we should lead when it comes to life.”
Weston Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz tweeted that the bill is “the latest attack on a woman’s right to choose. It’s dangerous, unconstitutional and cruel.”
The final vote was 237-179 with three Democrats voting in favor and two Republicans voting against. All delegation Republicans voted in favor, and all Democrats voted “no.”
The bill now moves to the Senate, where it faces an uphill climb.
Mast, Curbelo to receive another round of GOP-friendly ads
The American Action Network, who has run numerous advertisements supporting the positions of endangered GOP incumbents, is back with another round. This time, the six-figure buy continues their full-throated support for tax reform, including the recently introduced Republican bill.
The ads will run on a number of digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The districts of Floridians Brian Mast and Carlos Curbelo will be among the 42 targets.
“For too long, middle-class families have been living paycheck to paycheck and have struggled to make ends meet,” said AAN Executive Director Corry Bliss. “It’s time for working families to see tax cuts that will give them peace of mind and help them save for the future.”
Mast and Curbelo have been frequent beneficiaries of AAN’s activities. Both are considered to be in highly-competitive districts for the 2018 election.
In addition to GOP moderates like Mast and Curbelo, other targeted districts include those of Speaker Paul Ryan and conservative Freedom Caucus members Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Dave Brat of Virginia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
Lawson proposes ‘Feed America’ initiative
The first-term Democrat from Tallahassee has launched a campaign designed to combat hunger. By launching the Let’s Feed America Campaign, Lawson seeks to “address and alleviate hunger in North Florida, and America, through several proposals and initiatives.”
Lawson launched the initiative on the 40th anniversary of the 1977 Food Stamp Act. Food stamps are now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Hunger and food insecurity is a huge problem in our area,” Lawson said. “One in every four citizens in Florida’s 5th Congressional District has been on SNAP benefits at some point over the past 12 months. “This is nearly twice the national average and the second highest rate among Florida’s 27 congressional districts.”
The 5th District stretches from Gadsden County west of Tallahassee to Duval County and Jacksonville.
Last week, Lawson joined with New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to introduce the SNAP Standard Medical Deduction Act of 2017. Gillibrand submitted a similar bill in the Senate.
This bill offers seniors a medical expense deduction when applying for SNAP benefits, among other things. Among Lawson’s House co-sponsors are fellow Democrats Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, Alcee Hastings of Miramar, and Darren Soto of Orlando.
Lawson is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, which, along with the Department of Agriculture, has jurisdiction on the SNAP program.
Soto visits Puerto Rico, assesses needs and federal government performance
The first-term Democrat from Orlando visited Puerto Rico this week to meet with Commonwealth officials and FEMA representatives. Soto, the son of a Puerto Rican father and who represents a district containing a large block of Puerto Rico natives, prepared a report of his findings.
While he witnessed “numerous personnel from FEMA, US military, as well as other federal and Puerto Rico agencies,” reports of an inadequate response by the Trump Administration were in the background of the report.
FEMA briefed Soto on difficulties they encountered while providing emergency response. Soto listed each of those problems preceded by the word “alleged.” He reported that Puerto Rico’s Senate President told him “the federal response had been far more robust after Hurricane George(s),” a Category 3 storm that hit the island in 1998 causing $2 billion in damages.
Governor Ricardo Rossello shared with Soto estimates the island sustained damages totaling somewhere between $40 billion and $70 billion. The Congressman also visited mountainous rural areas, including a tour by helicopter.
“While in the air, I saw no other helicopters flying, no military vehicles driving around, and no federal personnel,” he wrote. “Rural towns will continue to suffer if resources and personnel are not dispatched to these areas.”
In an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal Tuesday, Soto was blunter:
“The Trump Administration has been slow off the mark, and now we’re paying for it.”
FEMA Director Brock Long defends the relief effort, claiming the devastation is so vast, even the most basic services are being ramped up daily as the military becomes more involved in relief operations.
“We’re basically reconstituting local government in Puerto Rico,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “The local governments were at a much-diminished capacity. The people they would normally rely on to drive trucks were victims or disaster survivors.”
Webster touts tax House reform plan
With storm damage and the Las Vegas tragedy rightfully dominating the news, the Republican from the 11th District talked to his constituents about the recently unveiled plan for tax reform. While it contains provisions that Democrats hate and some Republicans will need to explain, Webster is all-in on the idea.
“The past eight years have given us nothing but a crawling economic recovery, stagnant wages, and slow growth that has hindered our families and our businesses from achieving their potential,” Webster wrote in an email to constituents. “The plan released last week emphasizes small businesses and working families, which are the drivers of our economy.”
Super-investor Warren Buffett calls it a “tax cut act” and “not a tax reform act.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer brings out the usual Democratic line of “tax cuts for the rich,” while urging Speaker Paul Ryan to “get real.”
Perhaps fortifying Buffett’s claim, the title of Webster’s email message was “Proposed tax relief.” However, Webster still spoke of reform.
“America’s economic competitiveness depends on getting this right, which is why I am excited to work with President Trump toward overhauling our tax code for the betterment of our small businesses, individuals, families and our nation’s economy,” he said.
T. Rooney, Crist team up on child protection program
The first-term Democrat from St. Petersburg and the Republican from Okeechobee have teamed to introduce a bill empowering parents to protect their children’s sensitive information. Last week, they launched the National Child Identification Assistance Act which would provide parents and guardians with ID kits to be stored at home for use should that child go missing.
“The National Child Identification Assistance Act highlights the importance of the National Child Identification Program, a national community service initiative which provides inkless, in-home fingerprinting kits to parents so they can proactively collect and store their child’s vital identification in the privacy of their own homes,” said Rooney. “It also decentralizes the process for law enforcement agencies that may lack the resources to collect and centrally store information related to individual children.”
The issue is not new to Crist. While governor, he joined with the American (College) Football Coaches Association to promote the program.
“We must do all we can to protect our children,” said Crist. “I am proud to join my friend, Congressman Rooney, in introducing the common-sense bill to do just that, promoting a proactive approach to address the growing issue of missing and exploited children.”
The National Child Identity Program was officially recognized by Congress in 2001 for its dedication toward protecting children. It has long partnered with college football programs.
“I am so proud that Congressman Rooney and Crist are leading the effort to help protect our greatest asset, our nation’s’ children,” said Florida State’s legendary former coach Bobby Bowden. “I was one of the coaches that helped start this program, and to date with 57 million ID kits distributed, it is the largest child ID program in the world. What a blessing,”
NFL teams are also part of the program’s support group.
“It is a great initiative that I have been involved with since 1997,” said Jim Caldwell, coach of the Detroit Lions and longtime program board member. “This is another positive way that we can protect one of our most important natural resources that we have, and that’s our children.”
Buchanan polls constituents on Gaetz bill to strip NFL of tax breaks
Last week, Republican Matt Gaetz of the 1st Congressional District became lead sponsor of the Pro Sports Act, which would strip away tax exemptions currently enjoyed by the headquarters of the National Football League. In response to the leaguewide protests, condoned by the NFL, Gaetz wishes to strip those exemptions.
“It’s just ludicrous that the NFL league office gets tax breaks and special exemptions and loopholes that aren’t available to regular businesses on Main Street in my district,” Gaetz said in an interview on One America Network. “So, now we’ve got an NFL that is embracing unpatriotic behavior and at the same time not allowing players to express support for breast cancer awareness or other patriotic activities going on in this country.”
It is no secret that NFL telecasts are losing viewers over the past year and the protests are drawing significant signs of displeasure – otherwise known as booing – from fans in the stands. What do people think of Gaetz’ goal of stripping the NFL of their tax exemptions?
While not scientific, his GOP colleague and delegation co-chairman, Vern Buchanan polled his constituents online. He asked them “should the tax-exempt status of the National Football League be revoked in response to players refusing to stand for the national anthem?
As of Wednesday, 63 percent of respondents answered “yes,” while 37 answered “no.”
“If players want to protest, they have that right,” Gaetz said, “but they should do it on their own time and on their own dime.”
Second Democrat announces run against Mast; Aronberg out
The first-term Republican from the 18th District always knew his re-election would be difficult. On Monday, former Obama Administration official Lauren Baer became the second Democrat to announce she wanted to take on Mast next November.
From 2011 and 2017, Baer served as senior adviser to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, as well as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Human rights and international law were her specialties.
“America’s ability to project strength around the world begins with a strong foundation at home,” Baer said in a statement Monday. “That means focusing on job creation and economic policies that preserve and expand the middle class; protecting our environment and our coastline; ensuring that all children have access to first-rate public schools; and guaranteeing that all people have quality, affordable health care.”
The Palm Beach Gardens native raised over $250,000 since launching an exploratory committee in August, with more than $200,000 in the 21 days since she filed her candidacy statement Sept. 12.
Baer’s extended family owns and operates Baer’s Furniture, founded by her great-grandparents in the late 1960s. After spending time in the family business, her father founded a commercial real estate company based in Palm Beach Gardens.
One potential opponent said he is not running for the seat. Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a moderate Democrat, said he would not run for the seat.
“I’m focused on the opioid epidemic and a number of important issues as State Attorney, and so I have no intention of running for any other office in 2018,” Aronberg told the Palm Beach Post.
Attorney and U.S. Navy veteran Pam Keith is the other announced Democratic candidate. Keith sought the nomination for U.S. Senate in 2016, losing to eventual nominee Rep. Patrick Murphy.
F. Rooney talks Irma recovery with local business leaders
As Florida communities continue rebuilding after Hurricane Irma, the first-term Republican from the 19th District joined a roundtable of 25 business leaders from Collier County last week to discuss impact and recovery. Representatives from the hospitality, health care, agriculture and nonprofit industries addressed the next steps with Rooney.
“The small business community is the cornerstone of our southwest Florida economy,” Rooney said. “As our area prepares for tourist season, we want to ensure that we are open for business in Collier County.”
The group discussed areas where the community was bouncing back from wind and flood damage to the area. They also recognized that areas including Immokalee and Everglades City continue to face challenges.
“It was beneficial to hear feedback not only from our chamber members, but from our community members,” said Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Michael Dalby. “Our discussion spurred great ideas on how we can rebuild and support one another through this time.”
Deutch: Gerrymandering a ‘national scandal’
The Democrat from Boca Raton weighed in on a highly-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court case this week involving the redistricting practice known as “gerrymandering.” Deutch co-authored an op-ed with Common Cause Florida State Chair Liza McClenaghan urging the Court to “end this national scandal once and for all.”
The case, Gill v. Whitford, involves a federal court in Wisconsin ruling the state’s legislature drew unconstitutional Congressional district maps. The high court will determine, among other things, if the lower court’s intervention was permissible.
Deutch and McClenaghan begin the op-ed by quoting former President Ronald Reagan, who also referred to gerrymandering as “a national scandal” in 1987 when it was the GOP who was in the minority.
They opine that the case “could have a significant impact in Florida,” offering the example where the legislature was found to have violated the Florida Constitution when redrawing maps in 2012. While the district court and the Florida Supreme Court stepped in, Deutch and McClenaghan argue that a favorable opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court would hold legislatures “accountable for delivering district maps without the need for court orders.”
“We hope President Reagan’s words will ring loudly and clearly in the Court,” they wrote.
Diaz-Balart praises designation of Collier County to help fight drug trafficking
The Republican from the 25th District announced that Collier County was recently designated as part of South Florida’s High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). Diaz-Balart wrote to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in November in support of local requests for the designation.
Diaz-Balart praised the efforts of local officials to combat drug trafficking and for their pursuit of additional resources.
“Collier County has some of the finest law enforcement officers in the country, and I am grateful for their service,” he said in a statement. “I thank Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and Captain Tom Storrar for their commitment to acquiring this designation. I also want to thank Mr. Ed Morton for his leadership and assistance on this issue.”
“Drug trafficking is a national problem that has to be addressed on the local level, and adding these counties to the HIDTA program is a critical part of this effort,” said Richard Baum, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy.
Paulson’s Principles: Will the Supreme Court turn the political world upside-down?
Every few years, a Supreme Court Case comes along that has the potential to completely alter the political world. The Court heard oral arguments Oct. 3, 2017, on Gill v. Whitford, a case directed at Wisconsin’s political gerrymandering. If the court strikes down partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin, it will strike down similar gerrymanders in one-third of the states, including Florida.
Both Republican and Democratic States will be impacted.
Gerrymandering has been around for over 200 years and, although the courts have ruled racial gerrymandering violates the constitution, they have never struck down a partisan gerrymander. They came close in 2004, when the court split 4-4 on a case involving a Pennsylvania political gerrymander.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted not to overturn the gerrymander, said he “would not foreclose” the possibility of relief “if some limited and precise rationale were found to correct an established violation of the Constitution in some redistricting cases.”
Since the Pennsylvania case, University of Chicago law professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos and political scientist Eric McGhee have developed the “efficiency gap,” that they believe does what Justice Kennedy requested.
The “efficiency gap” purports to measure “wasted votes” in elections. All the votes of the losing candidate are considered wasted votes, as well as all votes over 50 percent plus 1 for the winning candidate.
Stephanopoulos and McGhee argue that Republicans are advantaged by 25-30 seats in the 435 House seats in the 2012 congressional election and 11 to 17 seats in the 2016 election. In Florida, the Republican advantage was 2.6 seats in 2012 and 1.5 seats in the 2016 election in the 27-member Florida delegation. The smaller gap in 2016 was due to court redraws of districts in 2016.
For over 200 years, gerrymandering has been viewed as a “political question,” beyond the reach of the courts. More recently, increasing numbers of judges believe the courts should intervene if they find that partisan gerrymanders result in “equal protection” violations, preventing voters from having an effective choice in elections.
Democrats have argued that the fact that 49 percent of Wisconsin voters could elect 59 of the 99 members of the legislature was proof of a constitutional violation.
Republicans argue that the fact that Democrats controlled the assembly for 40 years and never proposed a change in partisan gerrymandering, simply proves their complaint is simply sour grapes.
Plus, the fact that Republicans won after 40 years of Democratic control shows the limitation of partisan gerrymanders. The Republican National Committee, in their brief to the Supreme Court, argues that the “efficiency gap” was merely “a tool that advances the partisan interests of Democrats.”
In Florida, Democrats dominated the state for 120 years and drew district lines after the 1990 census, but Republicans were in complete control of the state within a few years.
Will the Supreme Court throw out partisan gerrymanders after over 200 years, or will the court find that, in the digital age, the precision in drawing legislative district lines impedes the will of the voters?
There is an old saying in politics: “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” Have both parties become such political hogs concerning drawing political district lines that they need to be slaughtered?
Wasserman-Schultz part of a good news statistic
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During their lifetime, women living in the United States have a 12.4 percent, or one-in-eight, chance of being diagnosed.
Just recently, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who currently stars in HBO’s “Veep,” was diagnosed, prompting former Vice-President Joe Biden to tweet his support saying “We Veeps stick together.”
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Democrat from the 23rd Congressional District and a breast cancer survivor, is a leader in the fight against the disease.
“As a breast cancer survivor, I consider it my responsibility to share my story,” she said in a statement. “As a legislator and Member of the Appropriations Committee, I consider it my obligation to help make lifesaving resources and information available to those battling this disease.”
There is good news to report. According to the recently released semiannual report from the American Cancer Society, deaths due to breast cancer decreased by 39 percent over the last quarter century.
Awareness and action appear to be paying off.
Ballard Partners joins forces with European firm
First, it was Washington, D.C.; now it’s Europe.
Ballard Partners, the Florida-based government affairs firm with strong ties to President Donald Trump, has formed an international strategic alliance with Alber & Geiger, a political lobbying powerhouse in the European Union, in efforts to leverage both firms’ governmental expertise in their respective countries.
Brian Ballard leads Ballard Partners. He was an early supporter of Trump who is also a regional vice chair of the Republican National Committee, where he helps leads the party’s fundraising.
Seeking to do more business with European interests is likely why Ballard has struck a partnership with Alber & Geiger, which has offices in Berlin, Brussels, London and Washington, D.C.
“Ballard Partners and Alber & Geiger share an unwavering dedication to the needs of our clients and a proven ability to influence top governmental decision makers, so our new strategic alliance is a natural next step for our firms,” said Ballard. “Our clients with international interests will benefit significantly from Alber & Geiger’s expertise and contacts in the EU, and we are pleased to form this mutually-beneficial partnership with such a reputable company.”
Alber & Geiger’s team combines former top EU officials, leading EU politicians and high-profile EU attorneys to represent clients’ interests on the highest diplomatic and political levels in Brussels and member states’ capitals.
“By aligning our two firms, we will be further equipped to continue helping our clients achieve their legislative and diplomatic goals,” added Dr. Andreas Geiger, the firm’s managing partner.
Former Ros-Lehtinen Chief of Staff joins D.C. lobbying firm
Art Estopinan, the former Chief of Staff for the retiring Miami Republican, has joined the Washington, D.C. lobbying firm Avenue Strategies Global as a partner. Estopinan will lobby for Qatar, which is involved in a five-month diplomatic standoff with other Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia.
Estopinan’s former boss is a one-time chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the current chair of the subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.
“Right now, it’s just the Qatar project, but my guess is we’ll be fully integrating him into the firm,” Barry Bennett, the firm’s co-founder, told POLITICO. Bennett’s other co-founder was former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who has since left the firm.
Estopinan will continue to run his own firm, the Estopinan Group. According to POLITICO, Qatar is paying Avenue Strategies Global $500,000 per month.