K Street: Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort

Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort

After publicly vowing earlier this year to raise and spend more

than $30 million to help elect business-friendly candidates and

push legal reform in the 2002 elections, the U.S. Chamber of

Commerce has become more tight-lipped about the effort. Chamber

President Thomas Donohue stressed in an early-October address

that the chamber “is committed to challenging the class-action

trial lawyers on all fronts.” But the Institute for Legal Reform-

the chamber affiliate that runs the electoral project called the

Litigation Fairness Campaign-declined to say how much was being

spent on advertising and get-out-the-vote operations in judicial

and attorney general races around the country, or for efforts to

sway Congress into passing legislation on class-action reform,

medical malpractice, and asbestos liability. “We’re not

discussing any plans whatsoever,” Michael Schick, the institute’s

director of communications, told National Journal.

Several sources familiar with the campaign, however, say

that a joint fundraising drive by the chamber and the Business

Roundtable has raised about $20 million so far. That’s a smaller

amount than was expected, though hardly a number to sneeze at.

The money is being spent to bolster Supreme Court and attorney

general candidates in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Michigan,

Mississippi, and Texas, sources said. Judicial candidates in a

few other states such as Ohio and Wisconsin may also get some


The campaign is now being coordinated in part by Stanton

Anderson, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery who has worked in

the past for Donohue and the chamber. Anderson came aboard after

Jim Wootton decided recently that he would step down as the

institute’s president after Election Day. Wootton is still

actively involved, sources said, but not quite as much as he had

previously. Wootton, a lawyer, is still considering options for

the future, including moving to Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, a law

firm whose client list includes the chamber.

Meanwhile, another pro-business group that played a role

in judicial elections in 2000, Citizens for a Sound Economy, has

pulled back from the judicial sphere this year. CSE says it is

focusing instead on bolstering pro-business turnout in the Senate

races in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Texas. -Peter H.

Stone and Louis Jacobson

Qorvis Chief Takes Heat for the Saudis

House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind.,

socked it to Qorvis Communications founder and managing partner

Michael Petruzzello last week at a hearing on American children

abducted and held in Saudi Arabia. Petruzzello, who has a

multimillion-dollar public-relations contract with the Saudi

government, testified for the kingdom. The hearing focused on

cases of American-born children kidnapped by their Saudi Arabian

fathers, taken to Saudi Arabia, and refused the right to leave

the country. In some cases, Burton said, the children have been

physically abused. Burton asked Petruzzello whether he thought

Americans were being held against their will. Petruzzello pleaded

ignorance: “These are very complex matters and matters of

international law, which I really don’t have a full grasp of.”

Burton charged that the Saudis have not helped to solve the cases

and have engaged in “disinformation and PR stunts.” In an

interview, Petruzzello declined to comment on the hearing, but he

said the Saudis were being unfairly singled out, noting that out

of 1,100 active cross-border custody disputes between citizens of

the U.S. and other countries, only 11 involve Saudi citizens.

Petruzzello said the cases amounted to disputes where each parent

had been awarded custody by his or her own court system. The

Saudis, he added, have proposed a resolution mechanism to the

State Department. -Shawn Zeller

Was It Consulting, or Lobbying?

Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon’s government-

relations work after he retired from Congress in 2001 has been

the subject of critical news reports back home. The Arizona

Republic reported October 4 that Salmon had not registered under

the 1995 federal Lobbying Disclosure Act while he represented the

Cty of Phoenix as an executive vice president at APCO Worldwide,

a Washington PR and lobbying firm. The city paid Salmon $150,000

for his efforts. Salmon also worked for the Phoenix suburb of

Paradise Valley, but registered for none of his clients. The

newspaper quoted three members of the Arizona congressional

delegation, who said they’d met with Salmon to discuss

congressional funding for Phoenix transportation projects. Salmon

spokeswoman Camilla Strongin told National Journal that Salmon

did not meet the standard for registration under the 1995 act and

hadn’t urged members of Congress to take a position on specific

votes. “These were consulting contracts, not lobbying contracts,”

she said, adding that Salmon has since severed all of his client

relationships. -S.Z.

Adelphia Hires Tauzin’s Former Aide

Facing a probe by the House Energy and Commerce Committee,

scandal-ridden Adelphia Communications recently retained Wallace

Henderson, a lobbyist with Public Strategies in Washington and a

former aide to the committee’s chairman, Rep. W.J. “Billy”

Tauzin, R-La. The committee told Adelphia and other troubled

companies over the summer that it was launching a review of board

performance and corporate governance and had requested internal

documents. In late July, the Securities and Exchange Commission

issued a complaint charging several Adelphia executives with

fraud; some of the same executives also face federal criminal

charges. Henderson says that he was hired mainly to “monitor” the

committee and to handle communication needs for Adelphia on

Capitol Hill. -P.H.S.