Special Interests

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) is bolstering its policy and lobbying staff to fight what it sees as “the growing right-wing threat to American civil rights and civil liberties.”

LCCR Executive Director Wade Henderson says the group has to work harder to “break through the din of war fever and the very legitimate war on terrorism” to get lawmakers’ attention on election reform, hate crime and education issues, as well as civil liberties and civil rights. Henderson said the group, a coalition of more than 185 national organizations representing minorities, women, labor unions, gays and lesbians, civil rights activists and others, also is fighting a number of President Bush’s judicial nominations, contending that the administration is trying to “pack the court with immoderate judges.”

“The domestic agenda has operated under a shadow for the past year,” he said. “We want to get it back on track.”

Among LCCR’s recent hiring “coups,” Henderson said, are Nancy Zirkin, previously director of public policy and government relations for the Association of American University Women, who became LCCR’s new deputy director/director of public policy; and Julie Fernandes, previously an attorney at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, who joined as senior policy analyst/special counsel.

Rob Randhava, who joined LCCR last year from the staff of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), has become part of the public policy department specializing in immigration issues.

Also, Karen McGill Lawsen, executive director of the Leadership Conference Education Fund, took on new duties as LCCR’s deputy director for education and operations; Brian Komar moved into the job of director of strategic affairs; Corrine Yu was named director of education; and Ed Fichter, formerly with the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, signed on as director of development.

Goldman, Sachs & Co., one of the Wall Street firms facing congressional, SEC and state investigations into alleged improprieties involving financial research and the awarding of initial public offering shares, has turned to a former veteran congressional investigator for help.

Michael F. Barrett Jr., former chief counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee under Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), recently registered to lobby on behalf of Goldman, Sachs. Barrett declined to comment, and his spare registration form says the lobbying issue is “congressional investigations.”

Chalk up another Indian client for Jack Abramoff, a busy Greenberg Traurig lobbyist with ties to House Majority Whip Tom D. DeLay (R-Tex.). He has recently signed up the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for a reported $ 150,000 a month to lobby on tribal sovereignty and other issues. The tribe probably can afford it. Turns out about 6,700 acres of the Agua Caliente’s reservation were within what became the city limits of Palm Springs, Calif.

One of the issues Abramoff likely will be working on is seeing if payments that the non-Indian leaseholders make to the Agua Caliente Band for use of the land could be treated like mortgage payments and receive tax benefits. Abramoff says the change wouldn’t necessarily benefit the Indians, but it would make their neighbors happy. The band, which owns the Agua Caliente Casino and the Spa Resort Casino, also has concerns about road improvements and tourism in the area.

Abramoff also lobbies on behalf of the Saginaw Chippewa and the Choctaw.

Robert J. Grey Jr., the first African American to be chairman of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates, has joined Hunton & Williams as a partner in the law firm’s regulated industries and government relations practice in Richmond and Washington. He most recently was a partner at LeClair Ryan in Richmond.

Joe Quigley, a veteran fundraiser, has joined the American Insurance Association as political director, overseeing the group’s political action committee and directing its grass-roots activities. Most recently, he was director of government relations for the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and earlier developed fundraising campaigns for the National Association of Realtors, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Ketchum public relations: Liz McLean moves up from associate director to director of the Washington office, succeeding Mark Schannon, who becomes senior counselor/partner to focus on strategic client counsel and business development. Jeff Levine, a former CNN medical correspondent, is joining Ketchum’s health care practice as a vice president/group manager and will advise clients on media relations strategies. He also has been D.C. bureau chief for WebMD and served as a consultant to the Institute of Medicine.

Qorvis Communications LLC has signed on three new folks with former ties to Powell Tate: Eric Lundberg, a grass-roots specialist who also worked for the Edison Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Kelley McCormick and Sara Cox joins as director.