The leading association of U.S. chief executive officers has turned to an international trade lawyer at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr for lobbying assistance in Washington, according to lobbying registration paperwork filed with Congress on Tuesday.
Business Roundtable has hired Wilmer counsel David Ross to lobby for it on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreements. President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address in February that his administration intends to start talks on transatlantic free trade, while the United States and nine other nations already are participating in discussions for the pan-Pacific free trade pact.
Ross also is advocating for Business Roundtable on the reauthorization of the trade promotion authority, the White House's power to send trade deals to Congress for expedited approval. The authority expired in 2007.
Ross said he hasn't started lobbying yet for Business Roundtable. But Ross reiterated that he will focus on trade policy.
Despite a 402-lawyer Washington office that put it at No. 4 on the 2012 Legal Times 150 survey of the D.C. area's largest law offices, Wilmer does very little lobbying. During the first quarter of this year, Wilmer only lobbied for Northeastern University and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., which paid the firm a total of $50,000, according to congressional records. Partner Jay Urwitz handled the accounts.
Business Roundtable spent $2.8 million on federal lobbying during the first quarter of this year. For its advocacy efforts, the group used its own staffers, as well as lobbyists from more than a dozen firms. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Davis & Harman; and Greenberg Traurig were among them.
The association, which counts more than 200 CEOs as members, already has lobbied this year for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreements, as well as the renewal of the trade promotion authority. Business Roundtable President John Engler said in February that the trade matters are priorities for his organization.
"Expanding America's access to international markets is, we think, vital for the U.S. economy," he said.