An ex-U.S. senator and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives now at K&L Gates are advocating for a reusable spacecraft manufacturer, according to a lobbying registration filing the law firm submitted to Congress on Thursday.
Former Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), a Seattle-based K&L Gates of counsel, and ex-Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.), a government affairs counselor at the firm's Washington office, are lobbying for SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., on "NASA commercial cargo and commercial crew programs," the registration paperwork shows. They are handling the account with Washington-based K&L Gates partners R. Paul Stimers, Emanuel Rouvelas, Steven Valentine and William Kirk, as well as firm government affairs counselors W. Dennis Stephens and Stephen Cooper, who also maintain offices in D.C.
With the retirement last year of NASA's space shuttle fleet, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company is preparing to deliver cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX planned to launch on Monday what is slated to be the first privately built spacecraft to dock with the space station. But the launch was postponed until May 19.
“Whether they’re competitors, legislators or staff, people want this to be a success,” Walsh said.
SpaceX spent $240,000 on federal government advocacy work that its own employees and outside lobbyists did during the first three months of this year, according to the company’s most recent congressional report on its lobbying activities. Lobbyists from Patton Boggs and three other firms reported that they lobbied for SpaceX this year, congressional records show.
During the first quarter of 2012, the company paid Patton $100,000 for the advocacy efforts of five of the law firm’s lobbyists, including former senators Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.). The group lobbied on NASA programs and a bill that would fund the agency for fiscal 2013.