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N.Y. Yankees Go Cap in Hand to Park Service

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By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, June 8, 2006

The New York Yankees reportedly have most of the state and city approvals that they need for the construction of a new baseball stadium. There's just a little problem with the National Park Service.

Apparently, a piece of the property received some federal park funds in 1978, meaning the Yankees need Park Service approval, according to PR executive Howard J. Rubenstein , a spokesman for the team.

So, the Yankees turned to the law and lobbying firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld for some help. The firm referred questions to Rubenstein.

Former congressman Bill Paxon , a New York Republican, and former Interior Department official Michael G. Rossetti recently registered to lobby on behalf of the Yankees and for "federal approvals necessary to complete stadium relocation."

Before joining Akin Gump in 2004, Rossetti was a counselor to then-Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton. His specialties at the law firm are Indian policy, land acquisition and law enforcement. Though the Yankees' issue does not involve Native Americans, the Interior Department, where Rossetti once worked, oversees the National Park Service.

Rubenstein said the firm filed a lobby registration "as a matter of caution," and that most of its work is strictly on legal matters.

Arnold & Porter Expanding

Arnold & Porter is bulking up its lobbying practice, raiding Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations of its general manager, Matthew L. LaRocco , and looking to add more folks, as well.

LaRocco builds on the law firm's addition last year of former House member Jim Turner (D-Tex.). The one-year ban on Turner's lobbying of his former colleagues recently expired, allowing him to register to lobby on behalf of such clients as CytoGenix Inc., a biotech company; Camel Manufacturing Co., which makes tents for the Defense Department; and Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals Inc.

"We made a conscious decision to grow the practice because the clients demand it," said Jeffrey H. Smith , former general counsel of the CIA, who heads the public policy practice.

LaRocco was a promoter of the recent merger of Fleishman's government relations group with the Mercury Public Affairs communications shop. Fleishman has suffered a talent drain over the past year, including LaRocco's father, former House member and lobbyist Larry LaRocco (D-Idaho), who left to run for lieutenant governor of Idaho.

Matthew LaRocco said the Mercury acquisition did not push him out. He said there is "a good fit" with Turner and that he wants to work on a homeland security practice with him.

Stayed tuned.


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