Avis lobbies up for expensing push

Avis lobbies up for expensing push

With Daniel Lippman

AVIS LOBBIES UP FOR EXPENSING PUSH: The Avis Budget Group has added its first in-house lobbyist as the rental car industry joins a push from the rest of the business community to prevent the prized full expensing provision from Republicans’ 2017 tax overhaul from winding down over the next few years.

Josh Dover, who jumped to Avis Budget Group in May after almost a decade as a lobbyist for JetBlue, registered to lobby for Avis effective at the beginning of July, according to newly filed disclosures. The rental car company is part of a business coalition that launched in March to push lawmakers to permanently let businesses immediately write off 100 percent of capital expenditures, as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act initially allowed.

— The provision began phasing out this year, part of Republicans’ bid to rein in the costs of the tax bill. Along with the restoration of immediate expensing for research and development, it could become a key part of a deal between Republicans and Democrats to extend several other popular tax breaks set to expire in the near term.

— Restoring the expensing provision, also known as bonus depreciation, is one of the rental car industry’s “key federal public policy priorities,” the industry’s trade group said last year, due to an increasing reliance on the tax break, and Avis has ramped up its lobbying accordingly. The company hired Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck last October and tax lobbying powerhouse Capitol Tax Partners in December, though Avis and Brownstein terminated their contract in the first quarter of this year. Avis also retains K&L Gates.

— Still, through the first six months of 2023, Avis Budget Group has dropped $270,000 on lobbying — close to the $290,000 the company spent on lobbying in all of 2022. In addition to tax issues, the company is also engaging federal officials on electric vehicle infrastructure, disclosures show.

BROUILLETTE TO LEAD EEI: The Edison Electric Institute has tapped former Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette as the next head of the utility trade group, it announced today. Brouillette led the Department of Energy for the final year of President Donald Trump‘s administration after serving as deputy Energy secretary before that. Since leaving office in 2021, Brouillette has served as president of Sempra Infrastructure.

— He’ll succeed EEI’s longtime leader Tom Kuhn as president and chief executive when Kuhn retires at the end of this year, taking the reins of one of K Street’s highest spending trade associations as the power sector becomes a key player in efforts to address climate change. More here from POLITICO‘s Alex Guillén.

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CATERPILLAR ADDS 2: Construction equipment and engine manufacturer Caterpillar has poached a pair of government affairs vets from two other industry players to expand its government relations team. Murali Krishnan has joined as director of global government and corporate affairs, after a decade and a half at Exxon Mobil, where he most recently served as global lead for climate policy and ESG. He’s also a Council on Foreign Relations and Edelman alum.

— Caterpillar has also added Nate Smith as a manager of government affairs focused on transportation, infrastructure, supply chain and workforce. Smith has spent the past 14 years with the American Traffic Safety Services Association, leading the association’s D.C. office and serving as vice president of engagement. Before that, he lobbied in-house for the National Court Reporters Association. Both Krishnan and Smith will report to Kathryn Karol, Caterpillar’s senior vice president for global government and corporate affairs.

TECH DOMINATING ITS STATE PRIVACY PIVOT: As Congress has dithered on passing federal data privacy legislation, tech giants and their trade associations have largely turned their attention to statehouses, where “a POLITICO analysis of every state privacy law passed in 2023 shows that the tech industry has notched a steady series of wins,” our Brendan Bordelon and Alfred Ng write.

— “In Oregon and the six other states that passed legislation between January and July, lawmakers enacted bills that bore clear hallmarks of lobbying influence. If any legislation emerged that would impose stronger privacy protections, industry successfully watered it down.”

— “The tech lobby’s rash of state-level successes marks a turning point in America’s long-running fight over digital privacy protections. When California passed the nation’s first comprehensive data privacy law in 2018, lobbyists worried its strict protections would quickly spread to other states.”

— “But the tech lobby has instead run the table, pushing through industry-friendly laws in 11 states. The victories have come in both red and blue states, highlighting the tech industry’s sway. And to date, no state has followed California’s model.”

— “The tech industry’s success in the states has also changed its calculus in Washington, D.C. After years spent bombarding Capitol Hill with warnings that a state-by-state privacy ‘patchwork’ is untenable, lobbyists are now spending less time and money on Congress.”

— “In lobbying disclosures for the first three quarters of 2022, NetChoice — a powerful tech group that counts Amazon, Google, TikTok and Meta among its members – listed ‘a national standard on privacy legislation’ as one of its priorities. But that language disappeared from those forms in the last quarter of 2022 and has not reappeared.”

FEDS CHARGE SANTOS FUNDRAISER: “A man who was a paid campaign fundraiser for Rep. George Santos was indicted in New York on federal criminal charges related to his allegedly impersonating a top aide to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he solicited donations for Santos,” CNBC’s Jim Forkin and Dan Mangan report.

— “The fundraiser, Samuel Miele, last Sept. 26 allegedly sent a letter to Santos ‘in which he admitted to “faking my identity to a big donor,” but stated that he was “high risk, high reward in everything I do,”’ according to the indictment in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.”

— “Miele, who raised money for Santos’ campaigns in 2020 and 2022, was charged with four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft in the six-page indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday.”

— “Miele is accused of pretending to be McCarthy’s aide with the intention not only of getting campaign funds for Santos from more than a dozen potential contributors, but also to enrich himself on commissions of 15% that he earned on each donation.”

— “His arrest comes three months after the New York Republican Santos himself was criminally charged in the same court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn with fraud, theft, money laundering and making false statements.”

QATAR FINANCED LAWMAKERS’ WORLD CUP TRIPS: “During her time in Congress, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has frequently voiced concern over the influence of foreign interests on American politics — most controversially with regard to the pro-Israel community in the U.S. But when she visited Qatar last November to watch the World Cup, it was unclear who had paid for the trip, which the progressive lawmaker neglected to clarify,” Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel writes.

— “Her office did not answer questions from The New York Times in December about the funding source after she had returned. It turns out that the trip was funded by the Qatari government, according to an annual House financial disclosure filed in May.”

— “The new statement, which has not previously been reported, shows Qatar paid for the four-day visit to Doha that overlapped with the U.S. men’s team’s opening match against Wales. Both ‘food’ and ‘lodging’ were covered by the Gulf nation, the disclosure indicates.”

— Neither the Qatari Embassy nor Omar’s disclosure revealed the exact cost of the junket, but “Omar was not alone among congressional lawmakers who quietly accepted funding from Qatar to attend the World Cup last year, recent disclosures show” — though her trip “stands out in particular because of her outspoken criticism of the pro-Israel lobby and its involvement in American politics.”

— “In addition to Omar, the Qatari government also paid for Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Bryan Steil (R-WI) to visit Doha during the World Cup, according to financial statements reviewed by JI,” while “at least two other House members — Reps. David Valadao (R-CA) and Lou Correa (D-CA) — accepted invitations to attend the World Cup in Doha but failed to disclose the travel on their financial statements, their offices confirmed to JI on Tuesday.”

Alexa Velickovich is now senior manager at Signal Group. She most recently was PR account manager at Campbell Consulting Group and is a POLITICO alum.

Justin White has been promoted to be senior regulatory compliance counsel at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions.

Avery (Gordy) Stringer is now assistant to the executive clerk at the White House. She most recently was public affairs coordinator at Bose Public Affairs Group.

Real Chemistry has hired Erin Seidler as managing director in the corporate pricing and public affairs practice. She was previously head of communications at Sesame and is a Weber Shandwick and HHS alum.

Brian Garcia is joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as communications director. He most recently has been communications director for Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.).

Daniel Kopp is now an account manager at National Public Affairs. He previously was an associate at Penta Group.

Tom Robertson will join Manatt, Phelps & Phillips as a consultant. He’s currently a national adviser at Manatt Health.

Kean Van Drew 2024 (Reps. Tom Kean, Jeff Van Drew)

Restoring Virginia Integrity (Super PAC)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: The United States Fund For Unicef
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: Advanced Medical Technology Association (Advamed)
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: Google LLC
Kristen Grimm: Ami Dror
Mccarthy Advanced Consulting LLC: Sheet Metal And Air Conditioning Contractors Association National Association

Holland & Knight LLP: Cobb County, Ga
Ice Miller Strategies LLC: Intuit, Inc. And Affiliates (Formerly Intuit, Inc.)
Mr. Landon Fulmer: Executive Business Solutions LLC

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