With Daniel Lippman
SHEIN HIRES QUAYLE, AKIN GUMP: Chinese fast fashion e-commerce giant Shein has hired its first federal lobbyists as the company moves to expand its U.S. footprint despite concerns over the brand’s sustainability and labor practices. The company, whose popularity among Gen Z shoppers has surged thanks to its cheap offerings, brought on former Rep. Benjamin Quayle and Rashid Hallaway of HHQ Ventures in August, according to disclosures filed over the weekend.
— Shein last month retained Scott Parven, Joseph Fawkner, Geoff Verhoff, Jose Borjon and Ed Pagano of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, according to another recently filed disclosure. Both firms will lobby on “legislative and regulatory issues impacting the apparel industry and e-retailers, including trade and tax related matters,” according to the filings. They’ll also educate policymakers on the company’s “presence, operating footprint, and economic impact in the United States.”
— Shein was valued at more than $100 billion following a funding round earlier this year, which would have ranked it behind only TikTok parent company ByteDance and SpaceX as one of the world’s most valuable private companies, Financial Times reported, though the outlet said more recent valuations have been lower.
— But the company has faced accusations of knocking off other designers’ work as well as questions about its labor practices. And the fashion industry as a whole has come under pressure in recent years from sustainability advocates who’ve blamed cheap, fast fashion retailers in particular for fueling overconsumption and waste.
— Still, Shein’s president of U.S. operations George Chiao told The Wall Street Journal in September that the U.S. is one of the company’s biggest markets, and that Shein is planning to open new U.S. distribution centers and hire hundreds more workers in the country. Also last month, Shein announced targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chain by a quarter by 2030.
— A spokesperson for the brand pointed to its U.S. expansion plans in a statement explaining the timing behind Shein’s lobbying hires. “As a member of the business community in America, SHEIN will engage policymakers and participate in discussions that will help us continue to add value to the U.S. economy, support our American workers, and bring industry-wide benefits to consumers,” the spokesperson told PI.
MCMURRY-HEATH OUT AS BIO CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Michelle McMurry-Heath resigned on Monday as chief executive of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the biotech lobbying group said, a day after The Wall Street Journal reported McMurry-Heath was on leave following disagreements over the group’s direction and the drug industry’s failure to block new drug pricing rules in Democrats’ reconciliation package.
— McMurry-Heath will remain with BIO as an adviser to the executive committee and Rachel King, the co-founder and former CEO of GlycoMimetics, will serve as interim CEO as BIO begins the search for McMurry-Heath’s successor, the group said. BIO is regularly one of the top spenders on K Street. The company retains nearly a dozen outside lobbying firms and shelled out $13.3 million on lobbying last year — its most ever. It’s on track to approach that sum again through the first half of 2022.
— On Sunday, the Journal’s Jared Hopkins and Ted Mann reported that “some members have wanted BIO to engage more on general social issues not directly connected to healthcare policy, while [McMurry-Heath] felt the organization’s advocacy should stay focused on biotech, some people said.”
— “Some board members expressed concerns about her performance and management style, people familiar with the matter said. BIO has conducted a review of her job performance, some people familiar with the matter said. Some of those people questioned whether the review was fair.”
— The group isn’t the only drug lobby beset with internal shake ups following the industry’s drug pricing defeat earlier this year. Drugmakers’ top lobbying group, PhRMA, saw the departure of its most senior Democrat and lured back one of its former lobbyists in the weeks after President Joe Biden signed the reconciliation bill, and its drug pricing provisions, into law.
WHO’S HELPING LIV IN WASHINGTON: “LIV Golf’s tentacles are penetrating deeper into the nation’s capital,” POLITICO’s Hailey Fuchs reports. The Saudi-funded golf league’s latest hire in Washington is McKenna & Associates, “a non-partisan firm headed by Bush administration alum Andrew McKenna” that “is providing LIV with management consulting services, according to copies of correspondences viewed by POLITICO and people familiar with the arrangement.”
— “The firm helped LIV with monitoring and tracking the advocacy of families of 9/11 victims who were protesting the tour because of its ties to the Saudi government, according to the correspondence.” The league told POLITICO in a statement that “McKenna has supported the management team as we continue to reinvent the global game of golf.”
— “It’s not the first time in recent years that McKenna & Associates has done work for a controversial, high-profile client. The firm was at the heart of accusations that the National Rifle Association engaged in insider dealing when it hired the wife of a top NRA official. The NRA’s own accountants reportedly raised concerns about the conflicts posed by that arrangement and its work in general, for which McKenna & Associates earned millions.”
— “And in 2020, New York Attorney General Tish James sued the NRA, alleging in part that top NRA officials hired McKenna’s firm without going through the NRA’s contract process and paid it $5 million over five years. That case is ongoing.”
— LIV at one point also enlisted the help of a subsidiary of PR giant Edelman and has retained HHQ Ventures, which facilitated a Washington blitz last month by LIV CEO Greg Norman, illustrating “the degree to which LIV Golf has sought to ingratiate itself in D.C. circles. The rollout of the tour has roiled professional golf and captivated Washington lawmakers, largely because of the organization’s Saudi funding.”
HOPPED OFF THE PLANE AT LAX: Ballard Partners is putting down roots out West, opening a Los Angeles office for its first U.S. outpost outside the East Coast. Wendy Bruget, who most recently served as director of government affairs for L.A. waste and recycling collector Athens Services, will join Ballard as a partner and head up the opening of the new office.
— Ballard will also bring on Jason Ziven of Sanders Roberts as a senior adviser. Tola Thompson, a partner in Ballard’s Washington office, and Tom Cerra, a strategic partner, will offer client services from the Los Angeles office as well.
— The Florida-based firm, which expanded outside of the Sunshine State for the first time during the Trump administration and quickly saw business boom thanks to founder Brian Ballard’s friendship with the former president, has since opened offices in Boston, Tel Aviv and Istanbul.
NEW COALITION TO PUSH LNG EXPORTS: “The largest U.S. natural gas producer is leading a new coalition that will push for increased production and exports of liquefied natural gas, arguing the fossil fuel can help drive emissions reductions,” E&E News’ Carlos Anchondo reports.
— “Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. is the founding member of the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) — a group launched Tuesday to support the increased build-out of infrastructure used to produce and export U.S. LNG.”
— “The group, which includes TC Energy Corp. — the Canadian company behind the canceled Keystone XL oil pipeline — also consists of an advisory council of representatives from think tanks, unions and academia. Its arrival comes as Europe and other parts of the world look for new energy supplies while Russia’s war in Ukraine continues. Toby Rice, EQT’s chief executive and PAGE’s first president, said more U.S. LNG exports can help address a global energy crisis ‘driven by a shortage of cheap, reliable, clean energy.’”
CORRECTION: Friday’s edition of Influence misstated when Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) is up for reelection. He is running for reelection this year. PI regrets the error.
— Colin Carr is now vice president of congressional affairs at the Consumer Bankers Association. He previously was deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.).
— Pamela Lloyd is joining Connected Nation as a strategic adviser. She most recently served as vice president of corporate strategy for government, health care and education at GCI.
— John Fithian is retiring in May after more than two decades as president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners.
— George O’Connor has joined the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association as communications director. He was most recently vice president of communications at Nahigian Strategies.
— Kevin Flynn will be the new vice chair of tax at EY Americas. He previously was deputy vice chair.
— FGS Global has added Xuan Yan as partner and senior adviser for China. He most recently was an operating partner at MBK Partners.
— Eric Johnson has joined Mercury as managing director in the Florida office. He previously founded the political advisory firm Johnson Strategies and is a Robert Wexler, Patrick Murphy and Ted Deutch alum.
— Siemens Government Technologies has named John Ustica president and CEO. He was most recently their chief financial officer.
— Bradley Saull is now vice president at Jefferson Business Consulting. He most recently was a federal civilian market strategist at Dell Technologies, and is a Bush DHS and House Homeland Security Committee alum.
— Michelle Moore has been promoted to be manager of legislative and regulatory affairs at the National Pest Management Association.
— Brian Devine is now PAC systems manager at AFSCME. He most recently was an account executive at Instil, and is an NGP VAN and DCCC alum.
— Joe Van Wye has joined Farm Action as policy and outreach director, per Morning Ag. Most recently, he served as a legislative aide for the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee.
— Nirali Patel is now senior vice president of policy and advocacy at USTelecom, per Morning Tech. She previously worked at Comcast Corporation, where she was vice president of regulatory affairs.
— Ali Rubin has launched communications consulting firm AMR Strategies and has also established a formal partnership with Jasper Advisors. Rubin most recently worked at the Brunswick Group and is an alum of the Biden-Harris transition, Axios, the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
— Liz Murray is now director of scheduling and advance for the Small Business Administration. She most recently was director of executive operations at SKDK and is an Abigail Spanberger, Katherine Clark, Katie Porter, Brad Sherman and Steve Israel alum.
— David Frulla is now communications director at Republican Main Street Partnership. He most recently was communications manager at the Western Caucus Foundation.
Center for Arizona Policy Political Action Committee (CAP-PAC) (PAC)
JUSTICE ACTION NETWORK PAC (Super PAC)
A Love Supreme PAC (Leadership PAC: Maxwell Frost)
Massachusetts Republican Leadership (Super PAC)
Pak-American Coalition Super PAC (Super PAC)
Principles Over Politics (Super PAC)
Spirit of Freedom PAC (Hybrid PAC)
United AAPI Small Business Owners PAC (Super PAC)
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Shein Technology LLC
Alta Ridge Global LLC: Central American Bank For Economic Integration
Apco Worldwide LLC: University Of Memphis
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP: National Association Of Clean Water Agencies
Emd Millipore Corporation: Emd Millipore Corporation
Hobart Hallaway & Quayle Ventures, LLC: Shein Technology LLC
Solugen Inc: Solugen Inc
A1.9 Strategies LLC: National Association Of Development Organizations
Andrew Vogt Strategies LLC: Alliance For Cell Therapy Now
Andrew Vogt Strategies LLC: Molecular Testing Labs On Behalf Of Ascendant Strategic Partners
Augusta Associates, LLC: Rainn
Coler Consulting: Consumer Brands Association
Drummond Woodsum Strategic Consulting LLC: K&L Gates, LLP On Behalf Of Running Tide Technologies, Inc.
Haake & Associates: Ecolog
Hannegan Landau Poersch & Rosenbaum Advocacy, LLC: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Holland & Knight LLP: Hms Associates (On Behalf Of San Francisco Arts Alliance)
Impact Management Group: Bell Legal Group
Jmh Group, Formerly Jamian Mcelroy & Hamlin, LLC: Salam International
Krl International LLC: Trilogy International Partners LLC
Mcdermott Will & Emery LLP: American Registry For Internet Numbers
Policy Development Group: Papillon Airways
Policy Development Group: Stilo USa
Pyxis Partners, LLC: New York Stem Cell Foundation, Inc.
The Petrizzo Group, Inc.: Immunitybio, Inc.
The Picard Group, LLC: Focus Foods
Welsh Rose, LLC: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.