Small-business group to drop 7 figures opposing swipe fees bill

Hanah Lopes

With Daniel Lippman

SMALL-BIZ GROUP TAKES AIM AT SWIPE FEES BILL: The upstart American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce is launching a million-dollar-plus ad blitz backing up financial institutions in their push to block legislation targeting the fees retailers pay to run credit card transactions.

— The Credit Card Competition Act, from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), is aimed at diluting the market power of card issuers Visa and Mastercard by directing the Federal Reserve to issue rules requiring large card-issuing banks or credit unions to offer at least one alternate network that isn’t affiliated with Visa or Mastercard.

— Their bill, which Durbin and Marshall unsuccessfully sought to have inserted into the Senate’s version of the NDAA, has the backing of large and small merchants who argue the two card issuers’ market dominance gives retailers little leverage to push back on the price of the fees.

— But the card networks — along with banks and credit unions who also receive a portion of the so-called interchange fees — have argued that in addition to the payment ecosystem having sufficient competition, the fees are a key source of revenue that underwrites security measures and perks like cash back and travel points.

— The new campaign from the AmFree Chamber, which joins a coalition of free market groups in opposition, seizes on the latter argument. Its campaign, which will run nationwide on streaming platforms like Hulu and Roku as well as on social media, YouTube and Reddit, features spots taking place in the fictional town of “Point Less,” Kan., which banished credit card points. The ads depict a deserted local airport and hotel and empty businesses, all vacant because people aren’t able to use points to book reservations.

— The ad campaign is the latest tongue-in-cheek salvo to hit the airwaves in the clash between financial institutions and merchants over the bill. Last month, the trade group representing convenience stores and fuel retailers ribbed Visa over its sponsorship of the World Cup with a soccer-centric ad, arguing that Visa was promoting “competition in soccer even though it refuses to allow competition over swipe fees and how transactions are routed.”

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ANOTHER PHARMA LEADER PUSHED OUT: The Association for Accessible Medicines, the generic drug industry’s main lobbying group, fired President and CEO Dan Leonard on Friday, Stat News’ John Wilkerson reports.

— Leonard is the latest casualty among drug lobbyists following the industry’s failure to block Democrats from passing new drug pricing reforms this summer, which also resulted in the departure of Biotechnology Innovation Organization headMichelle McMurry-Heath and has prompted reflection and personnel shakeups at the top pharmaceutical lobbying group PhRMA.

— “I appreciate the opportunity to lead the Association over the last two plus years,” Leonard said in a statement provided by AAM. “I look forward to moving on to the next chapter in my career. I will continue to root for the mission of AAM in delivering affordable, accessible medicines to patients across the country.” David Gaugh, previously AAM’s executive vice president for sciences and regulatory affairs, has been named interim CEO.

MAYORS PUSH FOR GUN BILLS: Mayors across the country are mounting a last-ditch push for another round of gun control legislation before the end of the year. This morning, nearly 70 mayors whose cities had experienced a mass shooting this year urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up two bills that passed the House earlier with bipartisan support.

— The push comes after a pair of high-profile shootings at a gay bar in Colorado and a Walmart in Virginia days before Thanksgiving. The killings prompted President Joe Biden to renew calls for a ban on assault rifles, or semi-automatic weapons.

— “We can tell you firsthand of the devastating impact these shootings have had on our residents and on our cities,” the mayors wrote to Schumer and McConnell today. “While we will never recover from them completely, we must try to prevent them from happening in other cities in the future.”

— One of the bills backed by the signatories would ban the sale of certain semi-automatic weapons, while the other would expand federal background checks to require that all gun sales — even secondary ones — are subject to background checks. The mayors cited polling that shows a majority of Americans supports both ideas, while pleading with the Senate leaders: “How much more death and destruction must our residents and our communities endure before the Senate acts?”

INCOMING FRESHMEN SWEAR OFF CORPORATE CASH: “In the 118th Congress, a growing contingent of lawmakers is telling corporate PACs: We don’t want your cash,” Roll Call’s Kate Ackley reports.

— “More than 70 members say they are swearing off such contributions, indicating that a trend, almost exclusively among Democrats, that caught on during the 2018 election cycle has persisted. Despite the growth, the move has not led to the enactment of major campaign finance policy or legislative changes. With divided control of Congress next year, even a minor overhaul of political money laws seems unlikely.”

— Still, corporate PACs “face an uncertain future as the bang for their bucks diminishes.” End Citizens United, which keeps tabs on the lawmakers who pledge to reject donations from corporate PACs, “tracked 72 members of the incoming 118th Congress (73 if Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock wins a runoff Tuesday) who reject corporate PAC money, up from 59 in the 117th Congress and 56 in the 116th Congress. A handful of Republicans have sworn off the money in recent years, with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz sticking to his pledge of not taking donations from ‘woke corporations.’”

— The trend has business PAC representatives on the defensive. “‘I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding around our PACs,’ said Micaela Isler, executive director of the National Association of Business Political Action Committees. ‘When people hear “corporate PAC,” they immediately think corporate treasury funds are being used to elect candidates to Congress. At the federal level, we know that is not permissible.’”

KNOWING THE TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: The New York Times’ David Gelles reports: “When a lawsuit was filed to block the nation’s first major offshore wind farm off the Massachusetts coast, it appeared to be a straightforward clash between those who earn their living from the sea and others who would install turbines and underwater cables that could interfere with the harvesting of squid, fluke and other fish. … But the financial muscle behind the fight originated thousands of miles from the Atlantic Ocean, in dusty oil country.”

— “The group bankrolling the lawsuit filed last year was the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based nonprofit organization backed by oil and gas companies and Republican donors. With influence campaigns, legal action and model legislation, the group is promoting fossil fuels and trying to stall the American economy’s transition toward renewable energy.”

— The group was formed in 1989 in Texas, but has since gone national, finding a vocal supporter in former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and following him to Washington when Perry became Energy secretary during the Trump administration.

— The group placed several of its own officials inside the administration as well, and “as the organization’s profile grew, donations ballooned from $4.7 million in 2010 to $25.6 million in 2021, the most recent year for which records are available. That allowed the group to expand its mandate far beyond the Lone Star state.”

FLYING IN: More than 70 representatives from children’s hospitals around the country will hit the Hill tomorrow to make the case for fitting the industry’s priorities into any year-end legislative packages. Advocates are set to meet with members on both sides of the aisle, and will push for requests like pediatric mental health and pediatric workforce investments, permanent reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and resources to deal with a surge of RSV and pediatric flu cases.

— The Institute of International Bankers named Beth Zorc as its next chief executive. She succeeds Briget Polichene, who has served as CEO since 2018. Zorc was most recently associate general counsel at Robinhood and is a Wells Fargo, HUD and Hill alum.

Dustin Todd has joined Synopsys as vice president and head of government affairs. He was most recently public policy lead for devices and Ring at Amazon and is a Semiconductor Industry Association and Paul Tonko alum.

Matt Orr will be chief of staff for Rep.-elect Russell Fry (R-S.C.). He was most recently vice president of public affairs for First Tuesday Strategies.

Annie Moore is now senior director of digital at Dezenhall Resources. She previously was digital director for the Republican State Leadership Committee.

Liz Jurinka is now a senior policy fellow at the Tobin Center for Economic Policy at Yale University. She was most recently special assistant to the president in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

K. Dane Snowden is now a senior adviser at Wilkinson Barker Knauer. He previously was president and CEO of the Internet Association, and is an FCC alum.

J. Carl Maxwell is now vice president for public policy for the Association of American Publishers. He previously was manager of advocacy for the American Chemical Society.

— The Household & Commercial Products Association promoted Alexandra Hayes to senior vice president of communications and public affairs. She previously was vice president of communications and public affairs for the group.

Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul is now editorial manager at FTI Consulting. He most recently was manager for copy and production at Storyful.

Josselin Castillo is now manager of government relations at the National Federation of Independent Business. She previously led health care federal affairs for Americans for Prosperity.

Suzanne Stokes Vieth has been appointed as director of state relations and outreach at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She previously was deputy director for government affairs at Population Association of America/Association of Population Centers.

Greg Smith will be chief of staff for Rep.-elect Eli Crane (R-Ariz.). He previously was vice president of American Global Strategies and is a Trump White House alum.

BHG Committee (Reps. Andy Barr, Bill Huizenga, Andrew Garbarino)

Alpha Viking Wolf Pack (Super PAC)
PA SENATE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FUND 2024 (PAC)
SAILDRONE INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (SAILPAC) (PAC)
Teamsters Local 79 PAC for Better Government (PAC)
WI SENATE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FUND 2024 (PAC)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Macom Technology Solutions
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Niacet Corporation
Anaklia Development Consortium LLC: Anaklia Development Consortium LLC
Article One Group, LLC: Freedom Foundation
Article One Group, LLC: Yes, Every Kid., Inc.
Aux Initiatives, LLC: Capturepoint Solutions
Boundary Stone Partners: Ike Smart City, LLC
Jean Marie Consulting, LLC: Freedom Foundation
K&L Gates, LLP: Intramotev Inc.
K&L Gates, LLP: Triad Semiconductor, Inc.
Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein LLP: Research Triangle Foundation
Williams And Jensen, Pllc: California State Teachers’ Retirement System
William Watson Group LLC: World Tradex, Inc.

Smith Consulting Group, Inc.: Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.


https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-influence/2022/12/05/small-business-group-to-drop-7-figures-opposing-swipe-fees-bill-00072291

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