Lobbyist Leaves Mouse House for Own House

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, February 9, 2006

The well-connected and well-liked Walt Disney Co. lobbyist Mitch Rose is leaving the Mouse House this week to open his own shop, and he already has an enviable book of business.

When the lights go on at Mitch Rose Strategic Consulting on Monday, he'll be representing the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Motion Picture Association of America, Comcast, and Sprint Nextel.

It doesn't hurt that Rose, who was passed over to head the National Association of Broadcasters last year, is close to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who can wield enormous influence over broadcast and cable issues on the Hill. Rose was Stevens's chief of staff before he left for the private sector in 2000, and Stevens made it known that he wanted his former aide to get the NAB job.

The broadcast industry is trying to secure "must-carry" legislation that would require cable TV operators to carry all of their digital programming. Also, Stevens is considering legislation that would affect cable on a broad array of issues, including local market access and a tax on cable-modem service to fund broadband in rural areas.

Rose says he isn't bitter and isn't looking for work on the other side of NAB issues. "I've been in town 20 years. . . . I've been around too long to make anything personal," he said.

He is sensitive about being typecast as the guy you hire to try to influence Stevens or only for telecommunications issues. He has also worked for Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and then-Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.).

"I am looking to have a broader base than just telecommunications," he said.

Rose, 42, said he decided to leave Disney because while "the Mouse House is kind of a fun place" to work, "it's time to be my own boss."

Watch Crosses Party Lines

Talk about strange bedfellows. Terry Holt , who served as spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, is working with Wal-Mart Watch, known for its Democratic activists and its fight to make Wal-Mart more little-guy friendly.

Wal-Mart Watch's Tracy Sefl , a veteran of the Kerry-Edwards campaign, said Holt has signed on as a media and strategy adviser to the organization. "We're very excited about this. . . . It's very inaccurate to call" Wal-Mart Watch "a Democratic effort," Sefl said.

Wal-Mart Watch, a campaign of the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics and its lobbying arm Five Stones, is a coalition of organized labor, community groups, environmentalists and others. The executive director is Andrew Grossman , formerly executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The way for Holt was paved by GOP pollster Ed Goeas , who sits on the center's board and brought Holt and Wal-Mart Watch together.

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