Amid the threat of funding cuts by Congress, the nation's local public television stations have bulked up their lobbying presence in Washington.
J. Keith Kennedy, a senior public policy adviser at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, registered this week to lobby on behalf of the Association of Public Television Stations. Kennedy, the managing director of the law firm’s Washington office, is a former Republican staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Lobbying shop Quinn Gillespie & Associates is also working with the television stations, an association spokeswoman said. Though a registration has not yet been filed, according to a search of Senate records, the spokeswoman said the team includes John Feehery, who is a former aide to then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and Marc Lampkin, who was general counsel to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) when Boehner was chairman of the House Republican Conference.
The television stations’ trade group started talking to the two firms in January, the spokeswoman said. The lobbying registration for Baker, Donelson was effective as of March 16 — a day before the House voted, 228-192, for a Republican-led proposal to cut off funding for NPR.
Though the March 17 vote didn’t directly threaten public television, a coalition of its stations and NPR strongly condemned the action in a statement.
“The only result would be the loss of thousands of jobs in this industry, the closing or severe restriction of hundreds of local stations serving small-town and rural America which depend on federal funds for 30 to 100 percent of their annual budgets, including program acquisition, and the loss of vital information for millions of Americans,” the statement read.
The trade group has been registered with Pauley Management Inc., based in Florida, since 2005, but lobbying reports show no activity by the firm since 2008. Others who have lobbied for the stations in recent years include Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker.
The Podesta Group has been registered to lobby for NPR since 2007.