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A political mystery man with an unfathomable portfolio of super PACs is now lobbying Congress against MetLife's business practices — and to be installed as president of Haiti.
Floridian Josue Larose stormed onto the political scene in 2009 when he formed the American Federal Lobbying Firm and registered 60 previously unheard-of clients as super PACs across nearly every business and industrial sector.
Larose's latest filings urge Congress to take action against MetLife for alleged business fraud surrounding the lack of payment of death benefits and to make him Haiti's president.
Larose's recent lobbying filings are as diverse and odd as his history in political fundraising. Larose's super PACs have raised very little money — most of them have made none — yet Larose continues to file quarterly reports, keep up with paperwork and respond to Federal Election Commission queries. Larose also constantly changes the super PACs' names without regard to their messages: One PAC alone has changed from the United States Civil Engineers Federal PAC to the Federal PAC of the Gubernatorial Candidate Josue Larose, to the United States Presidential Dinners Fund Committee, to the White House Federal PAC, to the Obama Biden 2012 Presidential Reelection Fund Committee, to the Bank of America Customers Super PAC.
The intention behind all these machinations remains unclear because Larose avoids the spotlight. No one seems to know where he derives his self-proclaimed "billionaire" status. He did tell the Fort Lauderdale newspaper Sun Sentinel in 2009, "I just want to give everybody a voice."
He has filed to run in several federal elections, including as a Republican for president in 2016. His super PACs include the names Billionaire Josue Larose's Female Catholic Priests Committee, Billionaire Josue Larose's Misses of Beauty Committee and the Florida Intellectual Elites Political Committee.
In 2012, MetLife agreed to pay nearly half a billion dollars for its alleged failure to pay death benefits to heirs. Haiti is in turmoil following President Michel Martelly's recent resignation amid corruption charges. An interim president will be installed until new elections can be held April 24.
One of Larose's latest filings, on Feb. 2, stated: "American Federal Lobbying Firm will lobby the White House, United States Department of State, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and State Secretary John Kerry in favor of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce of America President Josue Larose to put him as the President of Haiti on February 07, 2016 for a period of one year to organize the next Presidential Election of Haiti during the Month of December 2016."
The number of former congressional staff members filing as new lobbyists during 2015 was the highest since 2011.
The most recent lobbying filings show that 471 congressional staffers made the trip through the revolving door over the course of 2015. Of them, 207 worked on the Democratic side of the aisle, and 256 for Republicans. The final eight worked for independents or worked in unaffiliated or bipartisan roles.
In 2011, when the Democratic Party lost control of the Hill, 586 staffers become lobbyists. Since LegiStorm started recording revolving door numbers in 2002, the record for congressional staffers leaving for K Street is 763, which happened in 2007, when Democrats took control of the House.
Revolving door numbers tend to spike in off-election years. The number of congressional staffers becoming lobbyists has averaged 545 in off-election years and drops to an average of 393 in election years.
A staffer for Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) has joined a health policy advocate to improve care for terminally ill patients.
Leslie Brady joined Higgins' staff in August 2013 and became a jill of all trades. She went from staff assistant to scheduler to legislative correspondent to deputy press secretary.
At the beginning of 2015, Brady began focusing on health care policy and parlayed that knowledge to a job as policy manager for the newly minted Coalition to Transform Advanced Care. C-TAC is a nonprofit aimed at improving health services for those with advanced illnesses.
House staffers who opened their inboxes Thursday morning found a fake news item that implied it was from LegiStorm - and House officials were behind the ruse.
The House's Cyber Enhancement Initiative conducted a phishing expedition to see if staff members would open potentially dangerous emails.
The email appeared to be one of LegiStorm's "Caught Our Eye" articles and claimed that 419 congressional staffers had been found on the delinquent taxpayer list. There were several signs that the email was fake: The incorrect title of "Caught Your Eye" instead of "Caught Our Eye, the early publishing time and the sender "LegiStrom."
Staffers who clicked on the story were directed to a page with the heading "You've been phished" and told that the exercise was meant to improve staffers' "ability to identify and properly handle phishing emails."
The source of the phishing trip was Wombat Security Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based firm that states it delivers "software-based cyber security awareness and training solutions that help your employees understand the risks associated with poor cyber hygiene and subsequently change their behaviors to strengthen your organization's security posture." It said the exercise was sanctioned by the House's Cyber Enhancement Initiative and the House Office of Inspector General, led by David Cole and Keith Sullenberger.
A former House staffer turned lawyer is a newly minted registered lobbyist. Daniel David Graver's path from Capitol Hill to lobbying was not a straight shot, however.
He was a legislative assistant with Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) before leaving in mid-2008. He then went to law school at the University of Texas and spent a summer interning with the law firm and lobbying power Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Following Graver's graduation in 2013, he joined the firm as an associate to focus on data privacy in the health field. The firm's most recent filings as a lobbyist shows him covering issues related to the implementation of the Life Safety Code, an advisory instrument on fire and building safety.
We spend a large part of our days looking at data. Documents often come in by the dozens and hundreds. And while most are boring - how interesting can staring at a phone directory or salary records be, for example? - we find daily reasons for interest, amusement or even concern packed in the documents. So we are launching a new running feature that we call "Caught our Eye."
Longer than tweets but shorter than most blog posts, Caught our Eye items will bring back the interest in reviewing documents and researching people. Some items might bring hard, breaking news. Others will raise eyebrows and lead some into further inquiry. Others might be good for a joke or two around the water cooler. All will enlighten about the people or workings of Capitol Hill.
Caught our Eye items will be published each morning for LegiStorm Pro subscribers. Non-Pro site users will be able to receive the news items a few hours later. In addition to having immediate access to the news, LegiStorm Pro users will have a handy way to search and browse all past items.