K&L Gates has found a new smoking buddy.
The firm this week revealed to Congress in a lobbying registration report that it is representing Cigar Rights of America, a nonprofit organization that, according to its Web site, is "Fighting For The Freedom To Enjoy Fine Cigars." K&L Gates is deploying nine lobbyists in Washington to help keep premium cigars away from government regulators.
The lobbyists are advocating for bills that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) introduced last year to prohibit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from including cigars among the tobacco products it already regulates. Posey's bill has 203 cosponsors, while Nelson's measure has 11.
None of the lobbyists could immediately be reached for comment. But Cigar Rights of America Executive Director J. Glynn Loope said his organization decided to retain K&L Gates after it saw the work the firm has done for the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association. K&L Gates has received at least $60,000 this year for its lobbying on behalf of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association on matters that include Posey's and Nelson's measures, according to congressional records.
"Their team has been doing an outstanding job in their advocacy efforts" to move the bills in Congress, Loope said.
Cigar Rights of America has spent at least $86,100 on federal government advocacy since its legislative director, Mike Copperman, registered to lobby in December, according to congressional records. In addition to Copperman and the K&L Gates team, lobbyists from DiNino Associates and The Rogich Communications Group have registered to advocate for the Simi Valley, Calif.-based organization.