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.
A 21-year Hill veteran has left the Capitol for a lobbying gig at another District institution, George Washington University.
Askia Suruma, who left last month as the House Ways and Means Committee's Democratic staff director, is now the director of federal and international relations for George Washington, which currently enrolls about 25,000 students. GW has not filed lobbying papers since 2009 when it was last represented by Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.
Suruma brings more than two decades worth of government experience to Foggy Bottom. He started out with Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) in 1993, first as an intern. He eventually climbed the ranks to become his legislative director and his deputy staff director on the House Rules Committee. During his tenure with Frost, he did a short stint as a public information officer with the U.S. Small Business Administration. In 2007, he switched to the House Ways and Means Committee and moved from being a deputy staff director under Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-New York) to the staff director under Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Michigan). Suruma earned his BSFS degree in economics from GW's cross-town rival, Georgetown University.
This won't be the first time Suruma's household has counted on a paycheck from GW. His wife works there already.
While Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts will be nervously watching ballots on Election Day as he faces accusations that he is out of touch with voters, his Republican colleague, Jerry Moran, has made his own plans that day to get in touch with constituents.
Moran is the first member of Congress to announce a town hall event for Nov. 4. The lunchtime event in Neodesha, Kansas, is co-hosted with the Rotary Club. The junior senator won't be on the ballot until 2016.
Moran has hosted frequent town halls. He claimed he crossed the 1,000-mark for town hall meetings a year ago with a pancake breakfast stop.
Meanwhile, Roberts is locked in a bruising campaign with independent Greg Orman. Recent polling suggests Orman is neck and neck with the long-time incumbent.
A former staffer for Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has officially registered to lobby on issues affecting the U.S. Navy.
Edgar Rodriguez is now director of legislation and government affairs for the Association of the United States Navy. The Association is a membership organization made up of current and former sailors and officers, and it lobbies Congress "for a strong Navy." It has no formal affiliation with the Navy.
Rodriguez left Cardin's office in August after more than two years, first as a legislative correspondent, then as legislative aide.
Rodriguez wasn't in a senior position and is allowed to begin lobbying whenever he pleases, according to Senate ethics rules. The only stipulation in place is that he cannot lobby Cardin or his staff until he has been off the Senate payroll for at least a year.
Before joining Cardin's staff, Rodriguez worked as an intern for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.). Prior to that he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Vanderbilt University has taken another step toward sharpening its lobbying push on Capitol Hill by hiring a House committee policy staffer.
The university's lobbying expenditures have shot up from five years ago, with $230,000 spent in the first two quarters of 2014 compared to $150,000 for the full 2009 year. Vanderbilt's three registered lobbyists in the last few years have advocated for research dollars and federal student aid as well as on immigration reform to help international students.
Vanderbilt's latest hire, Gabriella Ra'anan, was a policy staffer for the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Space Subcommittee since April 2013, after shifting from a policy staff role on the committee's oversight subcommittee earlier that year. She was also a junior professional staff member and policy analyst on the House Foreign Affairs Committee between 2011 and 2013.
Ra'anan's new job as assistant director of federal relations for Vanderbilt is also her second time in an advocacy office for a university. She interned in 2010 and 2011 at Brown University, where she received her bachelor's degree, in the Office of Government Relations and Community Affairs.
Vanderbilt has a well-honed lobbying pitch. The university dedicates a section of its website to its lobbying efforts for federal grants and contracts and on issues impacting higher education. The site breaks down Vanderbilt's impact in Tennessee by congressional district and displays other "fast facts" for lawmakers.
A onetime immigration lobbyist for the National Council of La Raza has shifted to Capitol Hill as counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Olga Medina completed law school at the University of Texas this year and has a passion for immigration reform. She was an immigration policy associate at La Raza for two years beginning in 2008 after earning her bachelor's degree from Stanford University.
Medina has also clerked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and was a White House Domestic Policy Council intern in 2013. She worked in Texas politics earlier this year as a policy intern for Texas state Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston).
She lobbied for La Raza on issues including the Reuniting Families Act, DREAM Act and AgJOBS Act of 2009, according to filings.
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.