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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.

Livingston Group lands Iraq contract

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Dec. 20, 2017

The Iraqi government has hired a team of foreign agents, including a former member of Congress, to work on U.S.-Iraqi relations, according to new Justice Department disclosure forms.

The Livingston Group will counsel the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on "U.S. policies of concern, activities in Congress and the executive branch and developments on the U.S. political scene generally," as well as potentially arrange meetings with members of Congress and other government officials.

Livingston Group lobbyists working on the six-month contract, which began earlier this month, include founding partner and ex-Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.).

Sen. Warner aide picks Apple for tax-policy job

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Dec. 19, 2017

After almost three years with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a tax expert has found a new job at Apple.

Maureen Downes most recently served as Warner's senior policy adviser handling his tax portfolio. She now handles corporate tax policy for the technology behemoth.

Apple's tax-related lobbying includes work on tax reform, sales tax and digital-goods taxation. The corporation is on track to spend about $7.3 million lobbying on federal issues through its in-house team and another $1.4 million through contracts with outside firms.

Russian oligarch lobbying on energy issues

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Dec. 18, 2017

A billionaire Russian energy magnate with ties to Vladimir Putin has paid a lobbyist firm since January, according to a just-released lobbying disclosure.

Russian gas company ARETI and Igor Makarov, founder of ITERA, ARETI's predecessor, are paying Watson and Company Government Services to lobby on issues related to "energy development in Europe, Eurasia and North America." Watson and Co. is based in Jacksonville, Fla., home of ARETI's U.S. office.

Watson and Co. filed the Lobbying Disclosure Act form on Friday, more than 11 months after beginning lobbying, according to that filing. Lobbying disclosures are due by law within 45 days.

Bert Watson, the single Watson and Co. lobbyist listed on the disclosure, has penned pro-Trump and pro-Russia opinions since at least last year.

Makarov, whom Putin reportedly relies on to help make the country's energy deals, also appears to be a fan of President Donald Trump. The Russian oligarch co-wrote in April that the Trump administration "seems ready... for a grand bargain" between the two countries, and on the day of Trump's inauguration, ITERA extended online congratulations to the president.

Ex-CAP lobbyist and State Dept. adviser back to Senate

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Dec. 15, 2017

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has coaxed a former State Department adviser and Center for American Progress lobbyist back to the Senate.

Caroline Wadhams is now Warner's senior policy adviser for national security and veterans affairs. She had worked for the State Department, most recently as a senior adviser in the Office of the U.S. Envoy for the Great Lakes of Africa, from 2014 until the end of President Barack Obama's term.

Wadhams's last job on the Hill was as a legislative assistant to former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). She left Feingold's office in 2005 for a nine-year gig with the Center of American Progress, where she lobbied on the Iraq War, anti-torture legislation and other defense issues.

Ex-chief of staff kicks off lobbying business

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Dec. 14, 2017

A consulting firm founded by Rep. John Katko's (R-N.Y.) ex-chief of staff has officially kicked off its lobbying practice.

HillEast Group signed the U.S. Travel Association this fall to lobby on "issues related to encouraging safe travel to and within the United States for both business and tourists," according to a recent disclosure. Brad Gentile, the only lobbyist listed on the filing, founded the group after leaving Katko's office in May.

Politico reported in October that New York state Sen. John DeFrancisco had hired the firm for campaign consulting work for his potential bid for N.Y. governor.

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.