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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.

Pawn Stars comes to Washington

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Jan. 8, 2018

Creators of the popular Pawn Stars reality-TV show have hired a Washington lobbying firm to help with a new "digital education" program.

Rick Harrison Productions, founded by Pawn Stars personality Rick "The Spotter" Harrison, has paid an undisclosed sum to American Defense International since November, according to a recent disclosure.

While the form does not specify the exact nature of the "new digital education intiative" that ADI is advocating for, Rick Harrison Productions debuted a so-called "edutainment" series last fall. Harrison currently performs the live, history-focused program in Las Vegas, Nev. public schools.

Ways and Means chief economist finds new Labor

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Jan. 5, 2018

The U.S. Department of Labor's new chief economist has nearly two decades of experience working for Congress.

Robert O'Quinn, who began at DOL yesterday, was most recently chief economist to the House Ways and Means Committee under chair Kevin Brady (R-Texas). He first came to the Hill in 1999 as an international economist for the Senate Banking Committee before spending 15 years with the Joint Economic Committee.

O'Quinn, who holds an MBA from the University of Georgia and an undergraduate degree in economics, does not have a PhD in economics, the degree that the vast majority of recent former DOL chief economists have held.

Ex-senator makes first lobbying filing

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Jan. 3, 2018

After years on the government-affairs scene, former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) has finally disclosed his first federal lobbying activity.

The former senator is part of a Blank Rome team lobbying on behalf of Cedrus Bank SAL since November, according to a recently released disclosure. Blank Rome working on "banking and financial issues" for the Lebanese financial group.

Abraham, who is of Lebanese descent, has been with Blank Rome since 2016. He previously worked through his consulting and lobbying firm, the Abraham Group, and served as President George W. Bush's energy secretary from 2001 until 2005.

Roger Stone discloses secret foreign lobbying

Posted by LegiStorm on Jan. 2, 2018

Roger Stone, President Donald Trump's confidant, has indicated that he secretly signed a client in May of last year to lobby on security interests in Somalia as the U.S. military sent troops there. 

Stone filed a lobbying disclosure about the work on Dec. 29, although it indicates the effective date of registration was May 1. That makes it more than 6 months late after the 45-day window expired in which he was required to register. The late disclosure occurred even as federal agents are showing intense interest in the financial connections that Trump advisers have to foreign interests.

The document does not disclose which agencies or people he lobbied, nor how much he is being paid. The client is Capstone Financial Group Inc., a Buffalo, N.Y.-area firm that specializes in international commodities. The small-cap company trades on the over-the-counter market. Its stock nearly quadrupled from $.95 to $3.70 in the three months after Trump's election, but the price has since plummeted to $.75.

The lobbying filing indicates that Stone was to lobby for Capstone on "commodity rights and security of the same in Somalia." The effective registration date was just two weeks after Trump sent dozens of troops to Somalia to combat the al-Shabab terrorist group. There are now reportedly more than 500 U.S. troops in Somalia.

Stone is a former Trump campaign adviser and a former business partner for Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was indicted in October as part of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Stone has gained a reputation in Washington as a political dirty trickster and a peddler of conspiracy theories.

Cato snags Rep. Rohrabacher aide

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Dec. 21, 2017

The Cato Insitute has added a longtime aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) to its government affairs team.

Jeff Vanderslice joins the libertarian think tank this month as director of government affairs. He spent the last decade - his entire professional career - with Rohrabacher, including seven years as the controversial congressman's legislative director.

Rohrabacher frequently makes news for his alleged ties to the Russian government, for which he was questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this week.

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.