The latest buzz is that Carol A. Melton, executive vice president for government relations at Viacom and one of the most senior women in the lobby biz, will be moving to Time Warner Inc. as executive vice president for global public policy.

This is the position left vacant by Robert M. Kimmitt, who left earlier this year for Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and then was named by President Bush to be deputy secretary of the Treasury.

At Time Warner, Melton will be responsible for domestic and international policy. The move would be a sort of homecoming for her. Before joining Viacom, she was vice president for law and public policy at Time Warner. Melton earlier served as legal adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Doing Justice to the War on Drugs?

Bush administration plans to slash funding by more than half for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program and move it from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Justice Department has the programs across the country in an uproar.

The 33 HIDTA directors have formed the National HIDTA Directors Association which, with the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition, will let their opposition be known at a news conference today.

"We needed a voice," said Thomas Carr, director of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA.

HIDTA provides additional funds to the areas in the country that have the most serious drug trafficking problems. The HIDTA group says HIDTA-funded initiatives seized drugs with a wholesale value of $10.5 billion last year, and identified and dismantled more than 6,700 illegal methamphetamine labs.

John Walters, director of the drug control policy office, earlier this year proposed cutting the current $227 million funding to $100 million and moving the program to DOJ.

Jennifer DeVallance, a spokeswoman for the office, said that "the administration and Director Walters feel the program is extremely important" and noted that "it is not zeroed out."

The move to Justice will allow for some efficiencies that would offset the cuts and "it is a tighter budget environment. It is necessary to do more with less," she said. Also, DeVallance said: "We are essentially a policy shop. We don't implement law enforcement programs. The Justice Department does."

Carr said the directors fear, however, that the program will get lost at Justice, which "has more concerns than just drug control."

Principi, Running Bases

Catching up . . . Anthony J. Principi, former secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was a great catch earlier this year for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's Washington office.

The problem is he also was named by President Bush to be chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which is mightily busy visiting and talking to communities across the country in an effort to draw up a list of military bases and installations that should be closed or reorganized. After only two months at Pfizer, Principi resigned last month to focus on his commission work.

Taxing Move for Beeman

Venable has snagged a key congressional tax attorney, E. Ray Beeman, who had been legislation counsel for Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation.

Beeman said he decided to go to Venable because the firm has a "very integrated" tax practice of legislative and transaction work.

"We can make the contacts and get the meetings, but we can also handle the technical aspects," he said.

Beeman, who is prevented by ethics rules from lobbying the joint committee for a year, said he also will not lobby the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Postal Service Shuffle

In the midst of pending legislation to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, the postal lobby team is undergoing major changes. Ralph Moden is retiring as senior vice president for government relations and is being succeeded by Tom Day, vice president for engineering.

Day and his staff developed an emergency preparedness plan to deal with bioterrorism in the mail following the anthrax attacks.

As reported earlier this month, Paul Van Coverden, the veteran director of USPS's government relations office, joined U.S. Strategies Corp.

Fancy Footwork

Moving about town . . . Joe Trauger, most recently a senior policy adviser to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), has signed up with the Republicans-only Federalist Group as a senior vice president.

Colling Murphy has added Philip J. Maggi, former tech counsel to Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine). Maggi worked on the legal team in Ohio for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.

Kelly Bingel has moved off the Hill, where she was chief of staff to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), for Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti.

Blank Rome Government Relations is "combining with" Peyser Associates, a lobby shop that represents the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, among other clients. Peter A. Peyser Jr. and associates Thane Young, Tim Rutten, Caroline Martin, Michele Altemus and Beth Greco will join Blank Rome.

Daniel Spellacy, who was a senior adviser to the undersecretary for food safety at the Department of Agriculture, has set up his own shop, the Spellacy Group. Spellacy earlier worked for the Senate Agriculture Committee.