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Caught Our Eye items are posted daily. LegiStorm Pro subscribers have access to all posts a few hours before other users, and are also able to search the full Caught Our Eye archive. Log in as a LegiStorm Pro user or learn more about subscribing.

New caucuses reveal Trump and Congress splits

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Feb. 27, 2017

If President Trump is going to come to agreement on priorities with Congress, it won't be in a joint session. They can't agree on weed.

Just days before President Trump announced a federal crack down on legal marijuana, members of Congress launched the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus to pass federal marijuana reform consistent with state laws.

The subject of new caucuses serve to highlight priorities that certain members of Congress have. And while each of the new caucuses introduced this year involve hot-button issues for the president, lawmakers do not have unity of purpose with the president.

While five of the House's six newest caucuses are bipartisan, only three — the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN, Middle Class Jobs Caucus and the anti-corruption Congressional Citizen Legislature Caucus — appear to correspond with the President's positions.

Others show a sharp partisan divide. Democrats formed the House Public Education Caucus last month to oppose the nomination of now-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The New Americans Caucus, which has one Republican member, aims to "celebrate the growing number of new Americans" now serving in Congress at a time when many immigrants and minorities feel attacked by Trump administration policies.

HELP Committee picks up pharma policy director

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Feb. 24, 2017

After two years with a biopharmaceutical company's advocacy arm, Jennifer Boyer has returned to the Senate as a senior health policy adviser to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's Republican side.

The Colorado native spent two years as director of policy and advocacy for Alkermes Inc., which spent more than $4.46 million on its in-house lobbyists last year, and an additional $1.55 million on advocacy work through lobbying firms. The company focuses on diseases of the central nervous system.

Before joining Alkermes in 2014, the Coloradoan spent several years with the Senate, including as a health policy adviser to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Navajo Nation lobbyist joins Sen. Heinrich

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Feb. 23, 2017

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) has brought his office's ex-lobbyist count up to three with the hire of a Manatt, Phelps and Phillips managing director with long-standing ties to the Navajo Nation.

Simon Boyce had worked for the firm since 2015. He previously spent 11 years working for the Navajo Nation, which he also represented at Manatt.

Boyce, who holds a PhD in information science and studies from the University of Maryland and a JD from Syracuse University, is now legislative counsel to Heinrich. He joins fellow ex-lobbyists Tony Samp, Heinrich's senior legislative assistant, and Virgillio Barrera, who was hired as legislative director last month.

Sen. Strange picks up first ex-lobbyist

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Feb. 22, 2017

Newly sworn in Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) has snagged an aide straight from K Street.

Drew Tatum has been an Innovative Federal Strategies lobbyist for cities and water agencies since 2012. Now Strange's director of administration, Tatum is the first member of Strange's staff to have federal lobbying experience.

Tatum previously served as a systems administrator and correspondence coordinator to Strange's predecessor, former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). His wife, Leslie Goddman Tatum, works for the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

GOP shifts to remotely held town halls

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Feb. 21, 2017

Republicans this year are 3.5 times more likely than Democrats to face their constituents in town halls remotely, if they face them at all, according to a LegiStorm analysis.

So far this year, 12 percent of 193 town halls that Democrats have announced are to be conducted remotely by Facebook, telephone or radio. By contrast, 41 percent of the 228 town halls scheduled by Republicans are to be held remotely. 

But the numbers are even more stark when excluding the one Republican outlier, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. The Wisconsin Republican accounts for 45 town halls, all in person. Excluding him, more than half of Republican town halls are being held remotely this year.

The overall town hall numbers are a dramatic departure from last year, when Republican members held 2.5 times more such events than Democrats. Last year, only 19 percent of Republican town halls were held remotely. The change in tactics by Republicans are in response to the angry crowds that have often confronted Republicans after Donald Trump became president. 

About Caught Our Eye

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.