Humana hires former Senate HELP staffer- POLITICO

With Daniel Lippman

BUCKALEW SIGNS HUMANA: The former Senate health care policy staffer who helped craft legislation in the last Congress to end so-called surprise medical bills has added another major insurer to his client list. Newly filed lobbying disclosures show Humana retained Adam Buckalew of alb solutions back in April to work on “health care payment policy, including Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and other payer policy matters, as well as health care clinical services.”

— Humana is part of an industry coalition that last week endorsed legislation that would increase oversight for and streamline the so-called prior authorization process for treatments and tests under Medicare Advantage Plans. The legislation, led by Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), has broad bipartisan support, and last month secured a critical number of co-sponsors to make it eligible for fast tracking to the House floor under chamber rules adopted in 2019.

— Humana is just the latest major insurer to hire Buckalew, who served as a staffer to former Senate HELP Chair Lamar Alexander and former House Energy and Commerce Chair Greg Walden, since he set up shop on K Street last year. His other clients include Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and Anthem. He’s also signed health care clients like CVS Health, Novavax, Olive AI and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals.

TARGETED VICTORY ACQUIRES GOP DATA FIRM: Republican digital firm Targeted Victory has acquired TMA Direct, the data management and marketing firm run by longtime GOP strategist Mike Murray. Murray, who was a senior adviser to Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign and later served as co-chair of the Trump Victory Finance Committee, will join Targeted Victory as the firm’s political chair.

— In a blog post announcing the acquisition, the firm hailed the union as coming “at a key time for Targeted Victory as well as the entire political industry” and said that the acquisition will allow Targeted Victory to integrate its data and technology offerings. The combined firms “will raise over $1.5 billion dollars for campaigns and causes this cycle,” according to the post.

— “Voters are tuned in and turning out for elections at historic numbers. Their engagement doesn’t just stop and start at the ballot
— growth in grassroots engagement, powered by digital, is revolutionizing how campaigns are funded and managed,” it adds.

Good afternoon and welcome to PI, where we’re interested in your feedback on Neil Bradley’s auditions to be a meteorologist. Got a lobbying tip? Get in touch: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

COVINGTON WILL STILL REP MICROSOFT IN LEGAL MATTERS:Covington & Burling may have ended its lucrative lobbying work for Microsoft after more than two decades, as PI reported on Wednesday. But a spokesperson for Covington told PI today that the law and lobbying firm will still conduct legal work for the software giant, continuing a years-long relationship helping Microsoft navigate antitrust concerns surrounding acquisitions, waging legal battles on privacy issues and more.

CRYPTO’S CASH DUMP: “Crypto executives are now pouring more money into US politics than many of America’s industrial stalwarts,” Bloomberg’s Allyson Versprille and Bill Allison report. “Political donations from the sector surged to more than $26 million during 2021 and the first three months of this year.”

— “That influx of cash is outpacing spending by internet giants, drug makers and the defense industry — providing a fresh pool of financing for candidates heading into November’s congressional elections. The issue of regulating virtual tokens is not nearly as divisive as gun control or abortion rights. But the upcoming election will be highly consequential for crypto: Congress may weigh in with new laws for the asset class next year, and efforts by federal agencies to study consumer protections as well as a possible Federal Reserve-backed token are coming to a head.”

— “‘The industry has been under so much scrutiny and early next year stands to be a real inflection point in Washington,’ said Eric Soufer, a political consultant with Tusk Strategies who leads the firm’s crypto and fintech practice. ‘It’s possible you’ll see a historic investment in this election season.’”

— “In the 15 months through March, donations from people working in digital assets reached $26.3 million, according to the Federal Election Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s an enormous leap over the less than $500,000 the industry gave through the same period in the 2020 election cycle.”

— “While the roster of crypto donors is expected to mushroom as the November elections draw closer, the biggest spender thus far is Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire co-founder of the FTX exchange. He contributed $16 million in April alone after being responsible for a majority of crypto’s giving through the first quarter of the year. Overall, he’s pumped in about $32 million, 75% of the industry’s total, making him the biggest individual donor other than George Soros since the start of 2021, the FEC data compiled by Bloomberg show.”

LEANING OUT:Sheryl Sandberg is leaving Facebook, and closing out a turbulent relationship with Washington — where she both championed social causes and was partially blamed for the platform’s role in election misinformation and last year’s Capitol Hill riots,” POLITICO’s Emily Birnbaum and Myah Ward report.

— “In a lengthy post on Facebook, Sandberg said Wednesday she would leave her role as chief operating officer of Meta, Facebook’s parent company, this fall” — more here on her successor, Javier Olivan. “Sandberg branded herself as the company’s feminist leader, aligning herself with social-justice causes and releasing the best-selling book ‘Lean In’ about women’s empowerment. And she was often referred to as the adult in the room at Facebook as she handled the company’s public relations operation while building out its advertising business.”

— “But she faced severe criticism in D.C. starting in 2016 as she faced a whirlwind of scandals over the social media giant’s role in spreading misinformation, failing to protect user data and providing a platform for organizers of the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots last year.” She “was sidelined in recent years as [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg took more control over the lobbying and public relations functions that she handled. And since 2018, senators have pulled in Zuckerberg himself to testify in front of Congress numerous times, catapulting the previously shy and antisocial CEO into the limelight instead of Sandberg.”

— “Sandberg shrank from the spotlight after the 2018 Definers scandal, during which she took partial responsibility for signing off on work by a Republican firm that implied senators were hypocrites for criticizing Facebook and connected anti-Facebook activists to billionaire philanthropist George Soros.”

— “More recently, she faced a wave of criticism when she denied that Jan. 6 protesters used Facebook to plan the violence on Capitol Hill. Evidence revealed in an array of court cases has since proven that Facebook played a central role, serving as a community forum for many of the riot’s organizers.”

ACROSS THE POND: “The European Parliament is banning entry to lobbyists representing Russian interests as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine drags on,” POLITICO Europe’s Sarah Wheaton reports for Pros. “Russian company representatives may not enter Parliament buildings ‘effective immediately,’ President Roberta Metsola tweeted Thursday. ‘We must not allow them any space to spread their propaganda & false, toxic narratives about the invasion of #Ukraine.’”

— “Metsola announced the move at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents on Thursday morning, according to her spokesman, Jüri Laas. It comes as diplomats debate including a ban on providing consulting and accounting services to Russia in the EU’s sixth package of sanctions.”

— “The ban ‘applies to all entities that are established in the Russian Federation and that are listed in the EU transparency register,’ Laas said in an e-mail, as well as entities subject to EU sanctions. Metsola also ‘instructed Parliament’s services to look into other Russian companies whose representatives might spread false information about the war in Ukraine or try to circumvent the sanctions imposed at European level,’ he added. The Parliament has also called on the European Commission and Council to block Russia-linked lobbyists,” while some watchdogs “warned that the focus on Russia-based companies could limit the reach of the ban.”

Kate Meyer has joined Waxman Strategies as a director in the health policy practice. She previously served as interim executive director of Girls Gotta Run Foundation, and is a National Council for Mental Wellbeing, EMAA Project, Planned Parenthood and Brookings Institution alum.

Caroline Kitchens is now lead for government affairs and policy partnerships at Shopify. She most recently was director of government affairs at R Street Institute.

Cristóbal Alex is now a managing director at Tusk Strategies, where he’ll help advise tech, crypto and other startup clients and help lead Tusk Philanthropies’ mobile voting work. He most recently was deputy Cabinet secretary in the White House, and was the founding president of the Latino Victory Fund.

Michael Signer is joining Airbnb as North America policy director. He previously was mayor of Charlottesville, Va., from 2016 to 2018. Marcus Slade has joined the government and public policy team at Airbnb Southeast. He most recently was a government relations associate at the Center For Secure and Modern Elections.

Joe Quinn has joined SAFE Commanding Heights as vice president of strategic industrial materials. He most recently was vice president of external affairs and industry relations for the Aluminum Association and is an Edelman alum.

Caroline Isabel Emch has been promoted to be vice president for government affairs for U.K. and Northern Europe at American Express.

Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr., is joining BGR Government Affairs’ State and Local Advocacy Practice as a vice president. He was previously a senior aide to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and is a former Maryland state delegate.

Lisa Shields is now executive vice president for strategic communications at Access Industries. She previously was vice president of global communications and media relations at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mary Beth Hervig is now federal affairs assistant at the National Beer Wholesalers Association. She most recently was a research assistant for the Irish Embassy and is a Brendan Boyle alum.

Sam Loesche is joining self-driving startup Waabi as head of public policy and public affairs. He was previously head of transportation policy and government affairs for the Teamsters and led federal policy and government affairs at Embark Trucks.

Diane Staheli has been named chief of DoD’s Responsible Artificial Intelligence Division. She previously was MIT Lincoln Lab’s assistant group leader of AI technology.

Factum Global has added Mark Clark, an associate professor of business at American University, as an adviser and consultant on organizational change and leadership.

Ben Watson has joined FTI Consulting’s financial services public affairs team. Watson previously served as press secretary to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). Colin McLaren, an alum of the Calvert Street Group and Biden campaign, and Gia Beaton, formerly at JPMorgan Chase’s global regulatory affairs shop, also joined the firm.

— The National Electrical Manufacturers Association has named Sonia Vahedian chief operating officer. She was most recently vice president of revenue-generating programs at the American Petroleum Institute.

Illinois Victory Fund 2022 (Rep. Darin LaHood, Esther For Congress, Abraham Lincoln PAC, JOY PAC, Illinois Republican Party – Federal, NRCC)
O’Rourke Victory Committee (MORe PAC, Mike O’Rourke for Congress)
Rudy Salas Victory Fund (Rudy Salas for Congress, California Democratic Party)
Zinke Thompson AG JFC (Rep. Glenn Thompson, Zinke for Congress)

Crypto Freedom PAC (Super PAC)
Democratic Voters PAC (PAC)
It Matters Who Leads PAC (Leadership PAC: Andy Ogles)
Marquis Management, Inc. PAC (Marquis PAC) (PAC)
MORe PAC (Leadership PAC: Mike O’Rourke)
Organize Arizona! (Super PAC)
Outrider PAC (Hybrid PAC)
Stronger OH (Super PAC)
Washington Veterans Vote PAC (Hybrid PAC)

Alb Solutions: Humana, Inc.
Ballard Partners: Scale Ai, Inc.
Bolton-St. Johns, LLC: Blade Air Mobility, Inc.
Bridge Public Affairs, LLC: Seven States Power Corporation
Fgh Holdings, LLC (Formerly Known As The Glover Park Group LLC): Eion Corp.
Government Relations Group, LLC: Hextronics
Milne, Wiener & Shofe Global Strategies (Fka M&W Government Affairs, LLC): Rafa Laboratories, Ltd
Natural Resource Results LLC: Colorado River District
Splitoak Strategies LLC: Amryt Pharma
Swf Consulting, L.L.C.: Defend Uk
Van Scoyoc Associates: City Of Frisco, Texas
Washington Strategic Consulting: Centrastate Healthcare System
Washington Strategic Consulting: Visiting Nurse Association Health Group

Liebman & Associates, Inc.: Conamix Inc
Liebman & Associates, Inc.: Intellihot, Inc.
Oldaker & Willison, LLP: Cohen & Gresser LLP (On Behalf Of Management Sciences For Health)
Oldaker & Willison, LLP: US Medical Nonwovens Co.

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