The porn industry is tired of getting no respect.
Tom Hymes, communications director for the Free Speech Coalition, acknowledges that there's a "giggle and ick factor" when the umbrella group of adult entertainment companies tries to raise serious free speech and government regulation issues. So what does a trade group do to get a seat at the table on Capitol Hill?
Hire a lobbyist -- or a gaggle of them.
The coalition, which has focused on influencing the California state government and litigating free speech issues, earlier this year hired its first D.C. lobbyist, Aubrey C. King, on a six-month contract. Hymes says King was effective and dedicated, but he was more experienced in travel and tourism than in the First Amendment. So the coalition recently turned to the Raben Group, founded by Robert Raben, an assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration.
Also on the Raben lobby team for the coalition: Nancy Buermeyer, former legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, and Estuardo V. Rodriguez Jr., a lawyer formerly at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"We were just beginning our foray into federal government relations. This fit is kind of special," Hymes said. "Raben brings collective experience and affinity for our issues."
King acknowledged that "the subject matter, concerns, are outside my area of expertise," but said he had a good relationship with the coalition.
Raben is undaunted by a hot client. His lobby shop has worked on behalf of a variety of corporate and nonprofit groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Sony Music Entertainment, NBC, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.
"I love all my clients," Raben said. "I try to stay focused on issues and not perceptions of the client."
Raben says his team is going to be working on building coalitions with other groups in Washington concerned about free speech and government regulation. And they'll probably be fighting congressional efforts to restrict Internet content and to tax adult entertainment online.
Influence.biz reports that Kat Sunlove, the coalition's legislative affairs director and a former adult stage-show performer, went to Capitol Hill in September, visiting the Senate offices of California Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, among others. "We had a perfectly friendly reception," Sunlove told Influence.
What's important for the Free Speech Coalition, Hymes said, is "to have a mature debate about the issues."
They Paid Dues at the FCC
A couple of telecommunications types are plugging into new jobs in the private sector.
Scott D. Delacourt, deputy chief of the Federal Communications Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, will be returning to Wiley Rein & Fielding as "of counsel" Jan. 3. Delacourt started his law career as an associate at the firm, one of the top telecommunications practices in town.
Ken Ferree, FCC Media Bureau chief under former chairman Michael K. Powell, left his more recent perch at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to head the new Washington communications practice of California law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
Ferree, who had joined the CPB only in March, was acting president but didn't get the post full time, becoming chief operating officer instead. He left last month to no fanfare.
But Ferree said there were no hard feelings: "This was too good an opportunity to pass up."
Bonner a Strategic Counselor
Robert C. Bonner, the first commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency in the Department of Homeland Security and a former head of the DEA, is returning to his old haunts at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He'll be a partner in the law firm's D.C. and Los Angeles offices, specializing in internal investigations and high-stakes civil litigation, as well as advising clients "on the intersection of homeland security, international trade and customs issues."
A spokeswoman for the firm says Bonner's not expected to be doing any direct lobbying, although he will be doing "strategic counseling."
Signing on the Dotted Line
Also out and about town . . . Katherine Lugar, formerly vice president for legislative and political affairs for the National Retail Federation, started yesterday at St. Paul Travelers as vice president for federal government relations and head of its Washington office. She's the daughter-in-law of Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).
Julie Dammann, previously chief of staff to Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), has joined the Federalist Group as senior vice president for federal affairs. She began her Hill career nearly 25 years ago as an intern to then-Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.).
Steven L. Kreseski, longtime chief of staff to Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), has signed up with the Livingston Group lobby shop. Before going to work for Ehrlich, Kreseski was legislative director for the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association.