Sunrise (3/25/11)

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LOBBYISTS FIGHT AS NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE THREATENED

NYT: “Pete V. Domenici, then a Republican senator from New Mexico, was looking for an issue to claim as his own. One staff member, a former scientist at the Los Alamos nuclear lab, tossed out an idea that seemed dead on arrival: a renewed commitment to nuclear energy. … “Are you serious?” Mr. Domenici remembers asking the aide incredulously. After Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, nuclear energy had fallen into disfavor, development had stalled, and many politicians ran from the issue like it was a toxic cloud. … But with industry backing, Mr. Domenici overcame his skepticism and became one of the driving forces in a decade-long renaissance of nuclear energy — a resurgence that began in earnest under President George W. Bush and has led President Obama to seek a $36 billion expansion in loan guarantees to finance reactors at a time when other programs are being slashed. … Now, however, the future of nuclear energy in the United States is in doubt, with advocates on all sides bracing for a fierce debate over whether the disaster in Japan should slow or even derail the planned expansion of America’s 104 nuclear reactors.”

ENSIGN AIDE INDICTED

NYT: “Doug Hampton, the former senior aide to Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, was indicted on Thursday for violating a one-year lobbying ban, an unexpected development in a case that only became a subject of a federal criminal investigation after Mr. Hampton himself accused his former boss of instructing him to ignore the lobbying ban. … Mr. Hampton is accused of repeatedly contacting Mr. Ensign’s office in 2008 and early 2009 to seek assistance for two Nevada companies that the senator had helped him get lobbying jobs with, after Mr. Ensign was caught having an affair with Mr. Hampton’s wife.”

LOBBYISTS QUIT OVER CONTRACTS WITH DICTATORS

HuffPo: “One of Washington’s best-known lobbying and public relations firms has been upended in the wake of the turmoil in the Middle East due in part to its representation of some of the region’s autocratic governments. … In the last two months, more than a third of the partners at Qorvis have left the firm to start their own lobby shops, partly because of the firm’s work on behalf of such clients as Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea, say former employees. … “I just have trouble working with despotic dictators killing their own people,” a former Qorvis insider tells The Huffington Post. “People don’t want to be seen representing all these countries — you take a look at the State Department’s list of human rights violators and some of our clients were on there.”

FUNDRAISING PARTIES

–Donald Payne is still raising money on the NCAA Tournament. That and more parties here.

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