A Montreal posting for an Obama mega-bundler?

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Kenneth Quinn as Kenneth Pillsbury. Quinn, a former Federal Aviation Administration chief counsel and now general counsel of the Flight Safety Foundation, is a partner at the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. This version has been updated.


Is that a thumbs-up for Secretary of State John Kerry ‘s new yellow Lab? (POOL/REUTERS)
Al Kamen
Columnist November 26, 2013

Recent news has it that the embassy in Paris is going to one of the three Janes Jane Hartley, a top bundler and head of the Observatory Group — and that Dublin is going to one of the Missouri Carnahans — in this case Tom Carnahan, brother of former congressman Russ Carnahan (D).

There are still some fine spots — such as Costa Rica, the Bahamas and Switzerland — without official nominees, but it’s likely that candidates are penciled in for the jobs.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

This is troublesome, especially for Obama mega-bundlers — and there were so many — looking for their due. After all, it’s hard to create new countries. But maybe jobs previously filled by non-bundlers can go to worthy contributors?

For example, one of those nominees left on the floor when the Senate recessed was Los Angeles lawyer Michael Lawson, a major Democratic contributor and Obama mega-bundler (up to $500,000 in both 2008 and 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics) who was in line to be the U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization, headquartered in Montreal.

Traditionally, the ICAO job (cold up there, but it comes with an apartment) has been given to someone skilled in aviation safety and security matters, said Kenneth Quinn, a former Federal Aviation Administration chief counsel and now general counsel of the Flight Safety Foundation. “It’s never been considered an outpost for financial contributors.”

President Bill Clinton’s envoys to ICAO, a U.N. organization that deals with air safety and security, were Carol Carmody, a former FAA official and vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, and Edward Stimpson, the longest-serving head of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (and later head of the Flight Safety Foundation).

George W. Bush’s picks were Donald Bliss, a career aviation lawyer and former general counsel to Transportation Secretary William Coleman. Obama’s first rep, Duane Woerth, is an international pilot who headed the Air Line Pilots Association.

Lawson is the former head of law firm Skadden Arps’s executive compensation and employee benefits group in the Los Angeles office, according to a 2008 firm directory.

It should be noted that he is, in fact, well versed in some aviation issues. The White House noted that he has served on the Los Angeles World Airports’ Board of Airport Commissioners since 2005 and is its immediate past president.

And raising all that money shouldn’t be held against him.

Can the pup parasail?

Secretary of State John F. Kerry deals with some pretty tough issues on the job (Iran nukes, Mideast peace), so it’s no wonder that he appreciates after-hours companions who mostly want to play fetch and take long walks.

When he returns to Washington after the holiday this week, we hear that Kerry will be bringing back more than some turkey leftovers — he’ll have a newly adopted yellow Lab in tow. The pup’s name is Ben, as in Benjamin Franklin, the American icon whose credits include father of the Foreign Service, an institution over which Kerry now presides, and creator of the Great Seal of the United States, over which the secretary of state is a custodian.

Franklin’s namesake, though, has less lofty interests — toys and treats, mainly (yeah, about that turkey).

We’re told Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have long been dog people (they already have two schnauzers, Stache and Clousseau). Ben is their first Lab.

And if the little pup wants to fit in here in Washington, perhaps he could lobby his new master for an impressive title. Undersecretary for biscuits? Canine ambassador?

From rep to potrepreneur

The typical post-Congress gig for retired lawmakers is in lobbying — maybe join a firm, or find a nice post at the head of an association. Former House member Bill Delahunt is blazing a new trail, though, looking to greener pastures in the field of medical marijuana.

Delahunt (who has already done the hang-your-own-shingle thing by opening a government affairs firm, the Delahunt Group) has formed a nonprofit that is applying for licenses, set to be distributed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, to open three medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Bay State Democrat formed a nonprofit, Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts Inc., that’s looking to open dispensaries in Mashpee, Plymouth and Taunton, a move first reported by the Boston Business Journal. He told the Boston Herald that he doesn’t touch the stuff himself (so no plans to sample his own wares), and after taking a tough stance on pot dealers when he was a prosecutor and a congressman, came around to the idea that medical marijuana was a different beast.

“No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose,” Delahunt told the Herald.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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