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Special Interests: Judy Sarasohn

Bolstering the Log Cabin Message

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, February 17, 2005; Page A23

Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents gay Republicans, has hired an outside lobby shop to help push its legislative agenda with congressional Republicans and the administration.

Christopher Barron, political director of Log Cabin, said the hiring of Van Scoyoc Associates, a first for Log Cabin, reflects the group's commitment to fighting for Social Security, pension, tax and HIV-AIDS legislation important to all Americans.

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"We believe there are tremendous opportunities to move legislation," Barron said.

Barron said the group is not withdrawing from politics because of its disappointment in President Bush's opposition to same-sex marriage and its refusal last year to endorse Bush for reelection. He said the "president's agenda [this year] is positive and there are areas of common ground, such as Bush's proposed personal retirement accounts for Social Security.

"The election of 2004 is over. The faster that gays and lesbians get over that, the better," Barron said. "We are Republicans."

Broadcasters Seek a New Voice

When Edward O. "Eddie" Fritts came to Washington in 1982 to become the top lobbyist for the broadcast industry, heading the National Association of Broadcasters, then-Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) snarled, "The NAB can't lobby its way out of a paper bag."

Twenty-three years later, Fritts has built the NAB into one of the nation's most powerful lobbies. Yesterday, Fritts, 63, announced that he will begin the process of finding a successor. The NAB will hire a headhunter, and Fritts expects a new president to be picked in six to eight months.

After he leaves, he will be set to make even more than his annual NAB salary and benefits, estimated at $1 million. Fritts told our colleague Frank Ahrens that he will either form his own consulting firm or join a large political firm, buy into some broadcast companies and "serve on a board or two." Fritts said his resignation was not influenced by outside factors or health concerns.

The NAB enjoyed major victories and setbacks during his tenure. Its lobbying during the crafting of the 1998 Telecommunications Act opened the way to massive radio consolidation, allowing his radio station members to expand and become major Wall Street players. Also, the NAB forced cable companies such as Comcast Corp. to carry local television stations. However, a split between the TV networks and local affiliates led to all four major networks pulling out of the NAB.

"I learned early on you've got to keep your head down," Fritts said. "They use live ammo here."

Letting Ad Dollars Do the Talking

A coalition of business groups is launching a $15 million to $20 million advertising and grass-roots campaign today to build support for personal savings accounts and other major changes in Social Security.

The "Generations Together" campaign is designed to develop "an environment for action . . . that allows action to happen now," said John J. Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, a member of the coalition.

The umbrella group is the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security. Among its members: the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The ads are to start inside the Beltway today in Roll Call and the Hill newspaper, and in the National Journal tomorrow, and then move out to 20-plus states for a start.

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