The Washington Examiner reports that, having previously moved its lobbying efforts to an exclusively in-house arrangement, GM is now hiring outside lobbyists again [UPDATE: GM's chief in-house lobbyist just retired]. GM has rehired its old lobbying firms the Duberstein Group and Greenberg Traurig, and has added GrayLoeffler to its K-Street roster. GM is also keeping the “well connected” Washington Tax Group on its lobbying payroll, having picked up the firm’s representation in 2007. From these firms, some 18 lobbyists have registered as GM representatives, including a list of what the Wasington Examiner calls “well-connected revolving-door players from both parties.”
Former Reps. William Gray III, D-Pa., and Jim Bacchus, R-Fla., are both on GM retainer, as are fabled Republican and Democratic operatives Ken Duberstein (White House chief of staff under Ronald Reagan) and Michael Berman (counsel to Vice President Walter Mondale and campaign aide to every Democratic presidential nominee since LBJ).
Heading GM’s lobbying push for expanded R&D tax credits is the Washington Tax Group’s Gregory Nickerson, formerly the top lawyer at the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and the staff director of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. Nickerson’s partner is Mary Ellen McCarthy, formerly the top lawyer at the Senate’s tax-writing Finance Committee.
So what is this all costing taxpayers? GM wouldn’t reveal its exact lobbying budget, but the WashEx explains that
Duberstein Group’s average quarterly fee last quarter was $94,000, while Greenberg Traurig’s was $40,000 and GrayLoeffler’s was $28,000. In the third quarter, GM paid the Washington Tax Group $25,000.
And since GM isn’t making money of its own, these Beltway barons are being paid with public money from GM’s $52b bailout. And GM isn’t just paying these guys for general representation. For a GM IPO to be successful, the Volt will need to be commercially viable. And short of significant consumer tax breaks, there’s not much chance for the 2,900 lb, $40k, compact four-seater EREV. Having already scored a grip of Volt subsidies, including hundreds of millions for its Korean battery supplier, expect GM’s lobbying team to push hard for deeper tax breaks for Volt purchases. Because, as is surely being whispered around the corridors of the Capitol, what’s good for GM is now literally good for America. And if some lobbyists get rich in the process, well, the system must be working.