Jim Matheson’s Lobbyist Problem Identified By Claudia Wright

As she challenges incumbent Blue Dog Democrat Jim Matheson for the right to represent Utah’s 2nd district in Congress, Claudia Wright is focusing in on ethics reform as a central issue. She’s got a good reason for doing so. Congressman Matheson is so caught up in the unethical system of campaign finance, he’s strayed far from the values of the people that have elected him to office.

Claudia Wright is too polite to name names. She speaks generally of the problem: “Today, we have representatives that are ‘owned’ by the healthcare lobby or the oil lobby or the banking and finance lobby or, indeed, by several different lobbies.”

Here at That’s My Congress, however, we’re more than happy to name names. The following are the names of the lobbyists who are listed as individual donors to Jim Matheson’s 2010 re-election campaign. Their donations come in addition to PAC support, which Matheson received at a 6-to-1 ratio compared to individual contributions, and in addition to corporate-funded advertisements and other forms of behind-the-scenes corporate campaigning that are now authorized by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, these are just the lobbyists who gave Jim Matheson money in 2009. 2010, as a campaign year, lobbyist contributions are likely to be on a completely separate magnitude.

Let’s start with Richard Carter, who gave money to Jim Matheson on June 12, 2009. Carter is a federally registered lobbyist, but who is it that he’s lobbying for? His lobbying form shows that he worked on behalf of the National Grid company, an International energy corporation based in London, but on his FEC campaign contribution form, Carter wrote that he is an employee in federal government relations with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Which is it, or doesn’t it matter?

Jim Matheson took too many checks from Vinson and Elkins, a law and lobbying firm, for it to be coincidence. On May 24, 2009 Matheson took checks from the following partners from Vinson and Elkins: Richard Adams, Jo Ann Biggs, William Dawson, Matt Henry, Harry Reasoner, Bill Sims, and Michael Wortley. On May 13, Vinson and Elkins attorney Jeff Chapman had made a donation. Keep in mind that none of these individuals are registered as lobbyists, but they are top officials at a firm that did lobbying last year for many clients, including Chesapeake Energy, Goldman Sachs, and Energy Transfer Equity. Corporations, including law firms, are not supposed to give coordinated donations to political candidates, but what do you think the random chance would be that seven partners from one law firm would make campaign contributions to the same congressional representative in Utah on the same day, when the partners all live and work far away in Dallas?

Also living far away from Jim Matheson’s district in Utah is Erin Dorton, a Vice President at federally registered lobbying company Timmons & Co. Dorton lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Erin Dorton is not listed as a lobbyist herself, but Erin Graefe is. Erin Graefe, who lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, is married to Patrick Dorton. According to a profile at LittleSis, “Erin Graefe is a Vice President at Timmons and Co. and focuses on lobbying and government relations for clients on a wide range of issues.” Graefe is very busy as a lobbyist, and is also a Vice President at the lobbying firm Glover Park Group, as well as working as a lobbyist for the Prime Policy Group. Among Graefe’s clients last year were the American Petroleum Institute and the VISA credit card company. Graefe gave money to Jim Matheson on May 24, 2009, the same day as all those partners from Vinson and Elkins.

Marcus Faust works as a lobbyist for a number of companies involved in development in Nevada, as well as for a small city in Utah. Faust himself lives in the Washington D.C. area. He gave money to Jim Matheson on February 18, 2009.

On the FEC form, James Ford is lists himself as a “manager” with the American Petroleum Institute. Actually, he’s a paid lobbyist there. He gave a check to Jim Matheson on December 2 last year.

Ronald Hamm works in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist for the Ferguson Group, where he represents municipalities from across the USA. He gave money to Jim Matheson on March 31, 2009.

Once upon a time, Courtney Johnson worked on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives. Presently, Johnson works at the Alpine Group as a lobbyist for BP (British Petroleum), as well as for other clients such as pharmaceuticals giant Amgen, the Distilled Spirits Council, and Coventry Health Care. Johnson gave Jim Matheson a donation on New Year’s Eve 2009. Auld lang syne.

Patricia Knight is listed as a self-employed consultant on the FEC forms last year. More specifically, Knight is a lobbyist who worked for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America as well as for Genzyme Corporation. Knight wrote a check for Jim Matheson’s re-election campaign on June 12 last year.

David Lynch was employed as a lobbyist last year by the Energy Future Holdings Corporation, where he also lists himself as a Vice President. Lynch gave money to Jim Matheson on May 24, 2009. Other contributions from Energy Future Holdings came from President John Young and “executive” Rose Thomas, both on May 24, 2009.

Jack Martin works as a lobbyist at Public Strategies, Incorporated for clients such as Phoenix Capital Management, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and pharmaceuticals corporation GlaxoSmithKline. Like many other lobbyists in this list, he gave money to Jim Matheson on the 24th of May, 2009.

Brian Peters, a former legislative assistant for Congressman Jay Inslee, worked last year as a lobbyist for clients including Research In Motion (a wireless communications company), US Oncology, and a variety of Internet infrastructure corporations, including Verisign and Cisco Systems. Peters gave money to Jim Matheson on May 11, 2009.

Marda Robillard once worked for Michigan’s veteran congressional Democrats, Carl Levin and John Dingell. She now works for Van Scoyoc Associates Inc., which brags that it is “the largest independent lobbying company in Washington, D.C.”. Robillard’s clients include merged beer titan Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Schering-Plough, which has since merged into Merck to form a gigantic pharmaceuticals corporation. Robillard gave money to Jim Matheson on May 29, 2009.

Scott Shearer used to serve as legal counsel to the Department of Agriculture works as a lobbyist for the Bockorny Group. His clients include the Idaho corporation Agri Beef, the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation, and the National Pork Producers Council. Shearer is just the sort of person people are talking about when they refer to the problem of the revolving door between government and the corporate sphere, but Congressman Matheson was more than happy to take his money. Guess when? That’s right, it was on May 24, 2009.

Like Brian Peters, lobbyist Nick Shipley used to work for Jay Inslee. Now, Shipley is Director of Government Relations for the lobbying firm McManus Group. As with other lobbyists who have given campaign cash to Jim Matheson, Shipley has the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America for a client. Other Shipley clients include pharmaceuticals corporation Eli Lilly, the American Medical Association and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association. Shipley gave money to Representative Matheson on June 29, 2009.

Leonard Simon is a lobbyist rather like Ronald Hamm, representing municipalities from around the country. He made two donation to Jim Matheson’s re-election campaign last year – one on June 29 and one on September 30.

The last individual on our list is working for lobbying firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc., Allen Thompson has left behind the public service perspective he had as a congressional staffer. He now serves clients such as pharmaceuticals corporation Abbot Laboratories, the American Petroleum Institute, Clear Channel Communications, General Electric, Wal-Mart and the National Venture Capital Association. Thompson made a financial contribution to Jim Matheson’s campaign on September 30, 2009.

I wonder what other lobbyists from outside Utah will be on the record as giving money to Congressman Matheson this year?

6 Comments

on “Jim Matheson’s Lobbyist Problem Identified By Claudia Wright
6 Comments on “Jim Matheson’s Lobbyist Problem Identified By Claudia Wright
  1. With all due respect to her supporters, GOP leaders are likely to hope that delegates to the Utah State Democratic Convention will elect Claudia
    Wright, instead of Rep. Jim Matheson, who voted with the Democratic Party, 92% of the time. GOP leaders know that Matheson can be re-elected, while
    the mostly, unknown and under funded Wright, clearly can’t.

    We’re urging our fellow Democratic delegates not to vote against Matheson. Representative Matheson, who, despite his health care vote, which wasn’t
    actually needed to pass health care reform, can nevertheless be counted on to vote with his fellow Democrats more than 90% of the time.

    Unfortunately, if Claudia Wright wins at the convention, we’re almost certain to end up with a Republican holding the seat in Utah’s Second Congressional
    District. A Republican will oppose virtually everything that Democrats value, a 100% of the time and might even try to repeal the new health care bill.

    Cyril H. Noble, Chairman,
    Washington County Democrats

  2. Mr. Noble, that figure of 92% vote with the Democratic Party would include a large number of insignificant votes, such as items of procedure and throwaway bills such as renaming post offices.

    Our legislative scorecard shows that on significant bills, Jim Matheson votes more often with regressive Republicans that with progressive Democrats. He’s got a regressive score of 24 percent, and a progressive score of just 21 percent.

    In effect, you already DO have a Republican in Congress – only he’s a Democrat in name,

  3. I think, Mr. Noble, that you are mistaken about Claudia Wright’s electability–and also about the ultimate consequences of a victory for Matheson.

    First, there is no reason Claudia Wright cannot win in November. Utahns on “both sides of the aisle” are fed up with corporate politics as usual. Wright is deservedly becoming known for her accessibility to her would-be constituents, her willingness to speak directly and forthrightly about her positions on difficult issues, and her solid grounding in Constitutional issues, such as the issue of corporate personhood.

    Second, I would advise you to think one step further about the consequences of a strategy of choosing a candidate because she or he is “electable.” As Congress Watcher points out, Matheson’s voting record on key issues is much weaker than you suggest, around 40% (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/m001142/key-votes/ ). The consequences of choosing a representative who does not hold to fundamental Utah Democratic Party platform values is that the party itself moves further and further to the right–in my opinion a very bad consequence. I want a Utah Democratic Party that stands up for what Democrats fight for: workers’ rights, social services, spending on education, environmental conservation, equal rights for all people. I am a Democrat, and I abhor the “shift to the right” we have witnessed in American politics in recent years.

    Claudia Wright can win in Utah. I challenge my fellow delegates to vote our consciences, not our fears.

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  5. Jim Matheson is a great man … Nothing more to say.. Utah needs him desparately…
    Ms. Wright doesn’t have a clue about politics and getting things done.
    REELECT JIM MATHESON !!!

  6. What is there about Jim Matheson’s relationships with lobbyists that you think is so great, S?

    Exactly who is Jim Matheson “getting things done” for, and how are the lobbyists helping him to do that, S?

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