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By Rachel Leven
Former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), an architect of the landmark chemical law passed last year, is now lobbying the EPA on regulatory issues on behalf of a major chemical organization, federal records show.
The American Chemistry Council is just one of the handful of clients interested in chemical regulation that Vitter, who now works at public strategy firm Mercury Public Affairs, has attracted in his first three months out of Congress. Vitter is currently not allowed to lobby his former colleagues, but has started to lobby the Trump administration.
Vitter’s trek to K Street isn’t rare. More than 400 former Washington lawmakers have turned around and joined the advocacy community, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They include former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who served in Congress from 1993 to 2010 and now is a partner at Venable LLP, and former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who served in Congress from 1991 to 2016 and currently works for Squire Patton Boggs as a senior strategic adviser.
Bloomberg BNA obtained its information on Vitter’s lobbying through Senate Office of Public Records filings. April 20 marked the deadline for filing records of lobbying that occurred between Jan. 1 and March 31.
Senators are barred from lobbying the legislative branch for two years after leaving their seats. Vitter, who left the Senate after a failed run for Louisiana governor, served in the House from 1999 to 2005 and Senate from 2005 to 2017 and plans to lobby Congress when his “cooling off” period is over, he told Bloomberg BNA in an email.
Vitter did not provide specifics about his work for the American Chemistry Council. The federal form shows he lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency on “regulatory issues.” Scott Openshaw, a spokesman for the council, told Bloomberg BNA in an email that Vitter will be “focused on a range of regulatory issues at EPA including those related to chemical management,” but didn’t comment further on the council’s regulatory priorities.
Also on Vitter’s environmental docket is the the Cabot Corp., a chemicals and performance materials business. The corporation has paid the former senator to lobby on “Clean Air Act issues,” a first-quarter filing shows. Vanessa Craigie, a spokeswoman for Cabot, in an email would only say the former senator is working with the company on “environmental regulatory issues” and didn’t provide additional details on its Clean Air Act priorities.
Additionally, Vitter is registered to lobby in the future for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute. He will be a part of a team monitoring issues such as budget happenings for the Energy and State departments, a filing shows.
Mercury’s work for the air conditioning group will also include monitoring the status of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer that would phase down use of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons. The institute has told Bloomberg BNA that the amendment, which was reached in October 2016, should be protected.
Vitter also will lobby on “mitigation issues” on behalf of the Morganza Action Coalition, which focuses on flood protection.
The former senator also is working on issues outside the environment sector, such as infrastructure and Justice Department-related topics. For example, he is registered to lobby the Atlantic Development Group, a real estate, rental and leasing company, on nonenvironmental issues.
Vitter, who chaired the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee from 2013 to 2015 and later chaired a subcommittee, was a major voice in the environmental space in his final years in the Senate. He is perhaps best known for winning re-election in 2010 despite his earlier involvement with a Washington, D.C., escort service, though the scandal contributed to his defeat in the governor’s race.
The former senator played key roles in passing water infrastructure legislation (Pub. L. No. 113-121) and the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. No. 114-182).
He also notably held up for 135 days the confirmation of Gina McCarthy to be EPA administrator under then-President Barack Obama (D) due to transparency concerns related to the agency. When he led the environment committee, he was known for his frequent letters to federal agency heads.
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