With Daniel Lippman
BIDEN’S NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM: President-elect Joe Biden announced his first slate of Cabinet picks today, officially tapping his longtime aide (and WestExec Advisors co-founder) Tony Blinken for secretary of State. Avril Haines, who was a founding principal at WestExec, has been nominated for director of national intelligence. Biden also announced that Alejandro Mayorkas, a partner at the law firm WilmerHale and Obama-era deputy Department of Homeland Security secretary, will be nominated to lead DHS. Former Secretary of State John Kerry will bring his fight against climate change to the National Security Council, serving as Biden’s special envoy for climate. More on the picks, which include Jake Sullivan for national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador here and here.
— Flashback, via the NYT: “[WestExec Advisors] does not name its clients. It has worked with the philanthropy started by Eric Schmidt, the former Google chairman, and with Google’s in-house incubation unit, Jigsaw. On its website, WestExec says its clients include a leading American pharmaceutical company and a multibillion-dollar American technology company that it helped with ‘safeguarding against trade tensions between the U.S. and China.’
— “‘Those kinds of consulting shops take advantage of weaknesses in current laws, so there is no transparency in their clients and how they are trying to influence public policy for them,’ said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the nonprofit watchdog group the Project on Government Oversight. ‘That’s exactly the kind of people who should not be in an administration.’”
DRUG LOBBY ADDS PUBLIC AFFAIRS CHIEF: PhRMA has tapped Debra DeShong as executive vice president of public affairs beginning in mid-December. DeShong, who was previously senior vice president for global corporate communications and industry affairs at gaming giant MGM Resorts International, will lead the pharmaceutical lobby’s strategic communications in the midst of a raging coronavirus pandemic and as a handful of drugmakers look to roll out the first coronavirus vaccines at record pace in the coming months.
— “Debra is a seasoned public affairs executive with high-level experience in politics, government and corporate public affairs. In each role, she successfully worked with a broad range of stakeholders and led public affairs campaigns that punctured the din and advanced policy priorities,” PhRMA President and CEO Stephen Ubl said in a statement. “Her expertise will be an asset to PhRMA as we communicate about the value new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases can bring to patients, the health care system and the economy, as well as the importance of proactive, patient-centered reforms and our work to improve equity.”
Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Who’s your money on for tomorrow’s White House turkey pardon: Corn or Cob? Send tips and thoughts on Biden’s cabinet picks: [email protected]. And follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.
165 EXECS PUSH GSA TO ASCERTAIN BIDEN AS ELECTION WINNER: A group of more than 100 business leaders wrote today to General Services Administration head Emily Murphy, urging her to give the official sign off for a “proper” presidential transition to begin. “Every day that an orderly presidential transition process is delayed, our democracy grows weaker in the eyes of our own citizens and the nation’s stature on the global stage is diminished,” the letter, organized by the Partnership for New York City, reads. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk.”
— The New York Times, which first reported the letter, writes that to pressure Republicans, the business leaders discussed withholding donations for the GOP candidates in Georgia’s runoff elections that would decide control of the Senate. “Among the topics that came up on the call, according to participants, was the idea of withholding support from Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both Republicans, who are running for re-election in Georgia, until the presidential transition is underway,” the Times’ Kate Kelly and Danny Hakim write of the letter’s backstory. “At least one participant, Rob Speyer, the chief executive of Tishman Speyer, suggested that some wealthy donors had already been considering withholding support, according to four people with knowledge of his comments.”
— The letter shows a rift between leaders of the private-equity firm Blackstone. Co-founder and CEO Steve Schwarzman, one of President Donald Trump’s biggest allies and a top GOP donor, will not sign the letter, although he for the first time today declared that Biden had defeated Trump, calling the election results “very certain today” and saying that “the country should move on.” Blackstone’s President Jon Gray, a Democratic donor, did sign on to the letter. Other signatories include executives from Mastercard, Skadden, Ernst & Young, Visa, MetLife, BlackRock, Etsy and The Carlyle Group.
BOCKORNY GROUP ADDS BIDEN-HARRIS ADVISER: The Bockorny Group has hired Raphy Goodstein as a principal. Goodstein most recently advised the Biden campaign on economic policy and before that served as the director for tax and trade policy for the American Iron and Steel Institute and spent a decade as legislative director for the American Automotive Policy Council. Goodstein will register to lobby, and will work primarily on healthcare, infrastructure, tax, and trade issues. “Raphy’s experiences working on several major policy initiatives, as well as his relationships, both throughout the government and the business community, will make him a great addition to our team,” CEO Dave Bockorny said in a statement. “He is highly-regarded on both sides of the aisle and will strengthen our abilities to continue to provide unmatched services for our clients.”
CALI DONORS LINE UP BEHIND WOMAN OF COLOR FOR HARRIS’ SEAT: “On Monday, about 150 of the state’s biggest women donors will ratchet up the pressure with a public letter to Newsom saying that he should not replace Harris with a white woman, never mind a man,” Recode’s Teddy Schleifer reports.
— “‘We urge you to continue this Californian tradition by appointing a woman of color to Vice President-elect Harris’s US Senate seat,’ the donors write in the letter, which will appear as a full-page ad in the state’s two largest newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, and was shared early with Recode. ‘Women of color are the core drivers of electoral progress in our country, and their voices should be heard in the nation’s highest governing body. California is fortunate to have a strong pipeline of women of color in elected office who are prepared to serve; as Californians and political supporters, we look forward to you selecting one of them.’”
— Signatories of the letter — which is officially authored by two donor groups, Electing Women Bay Area and the Los Angeles Women’s Collective — include Silicon Valley psychiatrist Karla Jurvetson, one of the country’s biggest Democratic donors; Gretchen Sisson, a sociologist and on-the-rise Democratic fundraiser; Susan Pritzker, a scion of the famous hotel family that has bankrolled Newsom’s ambitions for years; and Dagmar Dolby, the billionaire philanthropist.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT FRIDAY: “One of the left’s biggest financial hubs raised $137 million from anonymous donors in 2019 — a massive sum that funded an eight-figure ad campaign attacking Republican senators, bolstered key pieces of Democratic and environmentalist infrastructure and supported expensive ballot measure campaigns,” POLITICO’s Scott Bland reports. “The nine-figure influx to the Sixteen Thirty Fund last year, detailed in a new tax filing, almost equaled the group’s fundraising during the 2018 midterm elections, when the nonprofit raised $143 million and pumped it into more than 100 left-leaning causes ahead of that election.”
— The dark money group won’t have to disclose its total activity for this year until 2021, “but its high-flying 2019 fundraising may foreshadow huge 2020 spending from the group,” Scott writes. But “already, public disclosures show that Sixteen Thirty Fund contributed more than $40 million to Democratic-aligned super PACs and other federal groups in 2020, a ten-fold increase over its super PAC contributions in 2018, as well as additional millions to state-level political groups and ballot measure organizations.”
SEVEN LETTER GETS INTO POLLING: Public affairs firm Seven Letter is launching its own polling operation, Seven Letters Insight. Its first poll surveying 2020 voters took their temperatures on a range of issues including favorability for corporations that oppose regulations on their industry (a majority said they view companies less favorably for it, including 6 in 10 of Democrats and independents). The poll also found more than a third of 2020 voters have “no trust” in social media and tech companies.
— Meaghan Rose Smith has joined the Biosimilars Forum as its first executive director. She previously led the health care practice at SKDKnickerbocker.
— Maggie Henkin is joining the Meridian International Center as associate director of corporate relations. Henkin was previously at CompTIA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Engineers, Inventors and Sustainability Advocates for Hendrith Smith (Super PAC)
GALEO Impact Fund PAC (PAC)
I-PAC (Super PAC)
Tamika PAC (Leadership PAC: Tamika Hamilton)
Trump 2024 SuperPac (PAC)
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP: National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Lincoln Park Group L.L.C.: Agriculture Fairness Alliance
Mchugh Lemay Assoc., LLC: Sustainable Ozarks Partnership
Peck Madigan Jones: Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
The Ferguson Group, LLC: Ward & Smith on behalf of the Town of Carolina Beach, NC
Tiber Creek Health Strategies, Inc.: Peck Madigan Jones (on behalf of Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
Albertine Enterprises, Inc.: Intersections Inc
Fox Potomac Resources, LLC: Vita Inclinata, Inc.
Hilltop Advocacy: Computer Science Education Coalition
Viking Navigation LLC: Baker and Miller, PLLC on behalf of the Sierra Northern Railway