Is Merck Re-Aligning Its Lobbyist Firms’ “Batting Order”?

As of just last Monday, the upstart lobbying firm Capitol Counsel, LLC (formed in late 2007, after the Republicans lost both houses of Congress) had electronically filed a lobbying disclosure form called an LD-1 — to designate itself as a newly registered lobbyist for Whitehouse Station.

The firm boasts of its long-standing connections to influential business tax policy leaders — in both chambers — and has a deep bench handling pharmaceuticals, health care and life science legislative issues. Though the firm is bipartisan, it clearly arose from the ashes of the Bush-Cheney led flameout.

Spending well-over $10 million last year on lobbying — and nearly $40 million over the last four, Merck is a significant snag for the firm. How times change. I’d expect the firm to offer influence/help on ACA of 2010 implementation and reimbursement measures — on behalf of Merck. Here is the full text of the LDA Form LD-1, for your edification, and a bit from the firm’s website.

. . . . In 2007, [founder John Raffaelli] was named by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the top 25 lobbyists in the Nation’s Capital, and he has made every top lobbyist list in the magazine since it began publishing them.

Mr. Raffaelli spent four years on Capitol Hill as counsel for tax and international trade to Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX). He developed extensive expertise in the tax rules governing depreciation, R&D, insurance, real estate, energy, and other issues and, as a lobbyist, has regularly represented clients before Congress on those issues. . . .

Before joining Capitol Counsel, Ms. [Sara] Franko was a principal with Strategic Health Solutions in Washington, D.C., with colleagues Denise Henry Morrisey and Mike Hoak. Previously, Ms. Franko served as Director of Federal Government Affairs for a major pharmaceutical manufacturer. In that position, she managed the company’s legislative efforts related to Medicare reimbursement, diagnostics, transplantation, obesity and dermatology. In addition, she directed the company’s political action committee activities. She also helped spearhead successful efforts to extend Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive therapy. Ms. Franko also served as legislative advisor at a national law firm’s legislative practice, representing corporate, association, and governmental clients on health care, veterans’ affairs, finance, and oversight.

Ms. Franko’s congressional experience includes service as Washington chief of staff, legislative director, and legislative assistant for Democratic Members of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees. . . .

Once the LDA disclosures of money spent for the current quarter, and first half of 2013 start rolling in — we will fill you in — on which DC firms are getting the largest slices of the Merck lobbying budget pie. So stay tuned.

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