The government of Puerto Rico, whose governor over the weekend said the island cannot pay back $72 billion in debt , has tapped one of Washington’s most prominent lobbyists to advocate on its behalf.

The Puerto Rico Treasury Department has paid lobbyists at Podesta Group — the firm founded by Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta — at least $150,000 so far this year in part to lobby on a bill that would grant the U.S. territory the same protection under Chapter 9 bankruptcy as U.S. states, according to lobbying records.

The government has eight lobbyists on retainer, including Podesta himself. Podesta’s firm has been working for the Puerto Rico government since June 2013 on various issues including statehood, transportation and infrastructure, earning a collective $1.15 million for their efforts — but only earlier this year filed papers to lobby specifically on the bankruptcy bill.

Puerto Rico Statehood Council, a D.C.-based advocacy group promoting Puerto Rico statehood, hired Navigators Global in April to lobby on the bill, paying the firm $10,000 during the first quarter of 2015.

The Puerto Rico Statehood Council has also has Akin Gump on retainer since 2013.

Representatives for the two firms did not immediately return requests for comment Monday.

The bill, Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act of 2015, was introduced in February by Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress. In March, it was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial And Antitrust Law, but has not advanced since then.

Comings and goings

Lobbyist Eric Rosen has been hired to be vice president of government relations for Herbalife. Rosen was previously at Heather Podesta + Partners for the past eight years, representing clients including FitBit, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Snapchat and Red Bull.

Following the money

Bruce Charash, Jon Cooper and Adam Stolz are hosting a reception this evening for O’Malley for President in New York (Contribution information: $2,500/$1,000/$500/$250).

The Connecticut Democratic Party is hosting its 67th annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner this evening in Hartford, Conn. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is expected to attend (Contribution information: $185/$1,000/$1,850/$2,500/$3,000).


McAuliffe’s move to Virginia politics brings new opportunities for his friends: After Terry McAuliffe became the governor of Virginia in 2014, some of his friends — who had never lobbied in Virginia before –started registering as lobbyists with several companies interested in contracting with the state, the AP reports.  Those companies include technology and Medicaid-related health care businesses. McAuliffe has made Medicaid expansion a top priority for his administration. The lobbyists include L. Chris Petersen, former treasurer of  McAuliffe’s PAC, who lobbies for health care company Maximus, and David W. Jones and Richard Sullivan. Jones and Sullivan work at Capitol Counsel, the lobby firm founded by McAuliffe’s former business partner John D. Raffaelli.

New lobbying contracts

DISH Network has hired the Smith-Free Group to lobby on spectrum management and wireless competition issues.

BMO Financial Corp. has hired Podesta Group to lobby on banking regulation and Dodd-Frank financial reform implementation.

Teladoc Inc. has hired Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas to lobby on expanded Medicare, Medicaid and VA coverage of telehealth.

TM Gemini Communications Inc. (on behalf of S. Abdassalam for M. and K. al Darat) has hired LaRocco & Associates to lobby on issues relating to foreign detention.

Biohealthonomics has hired JM Burkman & Associates to lobby on HHS and DOD contracts.

Competitive Governance Action has hired DGSR to lobby on health care regulation.

Transas Americas Inc. has hired Cassidy & Associates to lobby on procurement regulations.

Rail Term has hired Cassidy & Associates to lobby on surface transportation and rail policy.

Coalition for Consumer Patent Protection has hired Card & Associates to lobby on patent legislation.