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Special Interests: Judy Sarasohn

Fisheries Group Lands PR Veterans

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, January 13, 2005; Page A19

Concerned about the enviros pushing such anti-fish news as mercury contaminating tuna, the National Fisheries Institute is beefing up, so to speak, its lobbying and communications staff.

"We've seen a heightened attack on seafood from a number of groups," said NFI President John Connelly. ". . . We need to make sure the Hill understands the importance of seafood.

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"We think you're better off eating seafood two times a week even if there's some slightly elevated levels of a contaminant," he said.

The institute, which has a staff of about 14, picked up Cherylyn Harley LeBon as vice president of public affairs, Margaret McElroy as vice president of government relations and Frank Vitello as director of political programs.

"We're looking forward to strengthening our advocacy and communications efforts, and this group will be critical to our success," Connelly said. LeBon earlier served as senior counsel to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has also been a senior communications consultant to the Republican Party.

McElroy was legislative director for Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.). Vitello worked for the House Resources subcommittee on national parks, recreation and public lands and earlier served as executive director of Defenders of Property Rights.

Democrat Joins Once-GOP Lobby Firm

The up-to-now Republican shop of Mehlman & Vogel Inc. has added a Democratic name. With the arrival of David A. Castagnetti, a Hill veteran and director of congressional relations for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the firm now is known as Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc.

Castagnetti previously was part of a lobby shop then known as Bergner, Bockorny, Castagnetti & Hawkins and served as chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and then-Democratic House member Norman Y. Mineta (Calif.).

Among the boutique's lobbying clients: Amgen Inc., Red Hat Inc. and the Institute for Legal Reform.

Harbour Group Adds Power

After losing Joel P. Johnson, its managing director, to the Glover Park Group, the Harbour Group quickly made two significant additions.

Thurgood Marshall Jr., a partner at the Swidler Berlin law firm, and Suzanne Spaulding, minority staff director of the House intelligence committee, are joining Richard Marcus as managing directors of the Harbour Group.

The Harbour Group is the staunchly Democratic lobbying subsidiary of Swidler Berlin. It has a "strategic alliance" with the staunchly Republican Alexander Strategy Group.

Marshall, son of the late Supreme Court justice, will remain a partner at Swidler Berlin. He also worked in the Clinton administration, serving as Cabinet secretary and on the Hill.

Though a Democrat, Spaulding has worked both sides of the aisle, having started on the Hill more than 20 years ago as special counsel dealing with national security issues for Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). She has also served as executive director of the National Commission on Terrorism, chaired by L. Paul Bremer III.

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