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Democrats still shying away from town hall events

by Washington Free Beacon on 04/11/2016

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.

Posted by J. Todd Foster on April 20, 2016

The former health policy adviser for Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) has joined Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

Leigh Owano is associate director of global government affairs for Alexion, a firm that bills itself as a "global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and delivering life-transforming therapies for patients with devastating and rare diseases."

Owano worked for Roskam for two years after 15 months as a legislative correspondent and press assistant for Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Owano earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Northern Illinois University.

"As a highly-motivated individual, I work well in fast-paced environments," she has written on social media. "I am dedicated to finding ways to efficiently shape public policy and deliver public service."

Posted by J. Todd Foster on April 19, 2016

Former Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) has filed his first lobbying papers as a partner at Hecht, Latham, Spencer and Associates. Latham and his partners secured eight clients, according to lobbying filings released Monday:

• Reynolds American Inc. subsidiary RAI Services Co. signed on for $41,250 to get help with provisions relating to the federal regulation of tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration.

• LKQ Corp., which provides alternative collision auto parts, signed a $45,000 deal with Latham's team for help with the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, specifically the provision related to vehicle parts involved in government recalls.

• Leading Builders of America paid $90,000 for help with tax-reform proposals relating to the home mortgage interest deduction.

• Emergent BioSolutions paid $45,000 for help with adding the Zika virus to the FDA Priority Review Program Act and to draft a bill regarding chemical decontamination and Ebola response and preparedness.

• Eli Lilly paid $30,000 for assistance with issues relating to patent litigation reform and prescription drug prices.

• Clean Energy Fuels Corp. paid $45,000 for the drafting of a bill that would award excise tax credits for alternative fuels and for natural gas vehicle engine research and development.

• Boy Scouts of America paid $45,000 for help with tax-reform proposals related to the charitable contribution income tax deduction and for Boy Scouts' access to federal, state and local government facilities.

• 3M Co. paid $30,000 for the drafting of a bill that would fund advanced body armor for the military.

Latham was in Congress from 1995-2015 and after choosing not to run for re-election, became a partner at Hecht, Spencer & Associates in March 2015, when the firm added his name to the title.

Posted by J. Todd Foster on April 18, 2016

A co-founder of the Congressional Chicken Caucus recently traveled to Cuba to learn how that island nation farms tobacco, grapefruit and sugar.

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) flew from Memphis to Miami and then to Havana for a visit April 5-9 at the expense of the Washington Office on Latin America, which paid $2,746 for the trip.

"As a Congressman from an agricultural district, Cuba represents a big market opportunity for producers," Crawford wrote in his trip report, filed Friday. "The trip promotes learning about opportunity for increased trade and building key relationships."

Crawford was joined by Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.) and congressional staffers Edward Verill, Luke Letlow and Christopher Jones. The trip included a Havana cigar factory tour and presentations by University of Havana agriculture and economics professors.

In addition to the tobacco that goes into its famed cigars, Cuba is noted for its sugar exports (it once was the world's largest exporter) and for tropical fruits. Like Cuba, Arkansas is a leading producer of rice and is the nation's largest poultry producer and one of its largest for growing cotton.

Posted by J. Todd Foster on April 15, 2016

A former Florida congressman who railed against Obamacare has registered to lobby on behalf of long-term care hospitals.

Steve Southerland, senior vice president at Capitol Hill Consulting Group, will represent AMG Integrated Healthcare Management to lobby Congress to lift a moratorium that prohibits long-term care hospitals from adding beds and to alter the current payment system for expensive Medicare patients. The contract, filed Thursday, was for $30,000.

Southerland, a Republican who represented part of Florida's panhandle, was defeated in 2015 by Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham.  She portrayed Southerland as misogynistic after he held a 2014 men's-only fundraiser with an invitation that instructed attendees to "tell the misses not to wait up" because "the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many." Southerland's defense to claims he was anti-women got him into deeper hot water. "I live with five women. That's all I'm saying," he said. "I live with five women. Listen: Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?"

Southerland, who served in Congress from 2011-15, joined Capitol Hill Consulting Group in April 2015, but this is his first time filing as a lobbyist. He was joined on the filing by colleagues David Jory and Brian Sutter, a former staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee's Health Subcommittee.

The firm's client, AMG, owns long-term acute care hospitals that "provide a continued acute level of care for patients suffering complex medical conditions such as: respiratory failure, ventilator dependence, complicated infections, chronic non-healing wounds, cardiac complications and surgical complications." 

Posted by J. Todd Foster on April 14, 2016

A nonprofit recently sent to Kiev congressional aides who work for House members who advocate that the U.S. arm Ukraine in its war against pro-Russian separatists.

The American Center for a European Ukraine paid for the U.S. delegation, which included Deborah Weigel, legislative director for Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.). The lawmaker joined a bipartisan coalition of representatives last year in demanding that President Obama send to Ukraine lethal aid, including light anti-armor missiles.

Weigel visited Ukraine from March 28 through April 2 and attended several seminars aimed at furthering the center's mission to pull Ukraine fully into Europe and away from Russia, according to Weigel's trip report, filed Tuesday. The American Center for a European Ukraine is headquartered in Washington. Ribble chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee.

Ukraine's parliament today approved Volodymyr Groysman as prime minister in that country's largest political shakeup since the 2014 uprising that ushered in a pro-Western government. Ukraine has been mired in political deadlock that has delayed foreign loans worth billions of dollars from propping up Ukraine's economy, which has been decimated by its war with Russian-backed separatists.

Other House staffers who made the Ukraine trip were Ryan Canfield, legislative director for Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.); Maria Bowie, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.); and Carly Frame, legislative assistant to Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.). They had not filed their trip reports as of Thursday. Rogers, Cole and Boyle also have called on the U.S. to send lethal aid to Ukraine.

The seminars the delegation attended included "Defending truth: Information war with Russia" and "The corruption fight." 

"Ukraine has been a special point of focus for Congress since the EuroMaidan Revolution and now the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine," the center wrote in a pre-trip filing. "Both the Foreign Affairs Committee and Appropriations Committee ... are heavily involved in dealing with Ukraine. These individuals were invited to be part of the delegation as their work deals directly with Ukraine and the [Kiev] trip will be an excellent opportunity to be educated firsthand about the situation on the ground and to make valuable contacts."

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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.