Lobbyist hired to head key congressional committee

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Gary Andres, a lobbyist for Dutko Worldwide, has been hired by incoming chairman Fred Upton to be the staff director for the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

The Energy & Commerce Committee is one of the central committees in the House and Andres’ former clients are going to be involved in many of the most contentious debates that the committee will engage in over the next two years.

In 2010 Andres represented health care groups including the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform and UnitedHealth Corp., technology titan Google, General Motors, FedEx Corp., HSBC, Union Pacific Corp. and the National Ground Water Association.

Every single one of these groups has important business before the committee.

Upton has vowed to roll back the health care reform law signed by President Obama earlier this year. The companies behind the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform will have something to say about that. UnitedHealth Corp., an insurance company, will also have very pointed opinions, especially in the wake of a Virginia judge’s ruling that the individual mandate that people purchase health insurance was declared unconstitutional.

Google is in constant discussions with the Energy & Commerce Committee, which oversees federal telecommunications policy, over net neutrality policies. FedEx is in a lobbying war with shipping competitor UPS. General Motors is still coming out from under a government bailout and will likely be called to testify before the committee.

According to a USA Today report, Upton’s communications director declared, “To ensure the utmost level of transparency, Fred has taken the proactive step of notifying the House Committee on Standards of Gary’s appointment and has already adopted strict internal guidelines.”

What exactly are those “strict internal guidelines?” Will Andres not be able to contact former clients or will he not be able to work on certain issues relating to former clients?

Andres clearly loves his job as a lobbyist. He was named as one of The Hill’s top lobbyists in 2007 and, in 2008, penned a book Lobbying Reconsidered. It is doubtful that Andres would not go back into the lobbying profession after his stint on Energy & Commerce. What kind of protections is the committee taking to ensure that this position won’t be used to entice future clients?

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