America’s Most Influential Lobbyists

Lobbying runs deep in Washington, DC. Thousands of law firms, associations and advocacy groups exert influence over public policy. Few have the ability to get things done – and it’s those movers and shakers who are among The Hill’s Top Lobbyists. From the hired guns who populate K Street, to the lobbyists who derive strength from grassroots organizing, to the trade associations harnessing industry might, to the professionals representing America’s biggest companies, influence comes in many forms.

public policy and public relations

Many of the people on The Hill’s list are not formally registered to lobby. We use the term broadly to encompass Washington’s influence arena and those who battle on capitol hill.

Trade Association Lobbyists

Jeremy Allen, America’s Health Insurance Plans. The five-year veteran of the powerful insurer group was tapped this year to oversee GOP lobbying at a time when many insurers are facing their toughest year yet under ObamaCare.

Mitch Bainwol, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Bainwol was a fighting force for automakers as the administration crafted flexible, driverless-vehicle guidelines that were viewed as a win for innovation.

Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA-The Wireless Association. A former FCC commissioner, Baker steered the trade group through a major airwaves auction while making a push for spectrum reform legislation.

Mark Baker, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Baker is elevating the profile of the general aviation industry at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is struggling to fill a shortage of air traffic controllers.

Michael Beckerman, The Internet Association. Beckerman, a former House staffer, has grown this trade group – which represents companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon – from a startup to an established player in Washington tech policy circles.

Kenneth Bentsen Jr., Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. The former Democratic congressman from Texas helped lead his group, along with other industry forces, in mounting a legal challenge to new Labor Department rules governing retirement advisers.

B. Dan Berger and Brad Thaler, National Association of Federal Credit Unions. Berger and Thaler have made headway in convincing Congress that credit unions need breathing room under the new Dodd-Frank rules.

John Bozzella, Global Automakers. Bozzella has been a leading voice for automakers at a time when the industry is experiencing rapid change and innovation, as well as facing scrutiny over recalls.

Tom Buis, Growth Energy. Growth Energy honored Buis, its co-chairman and former CEO, with its top annual award in September, recognizing his years of advocacy for the ethanol industry.

Kevin Burke, Airports Council International – North America. Burke, in his third year at the group’s helm, skillfully helped airports tackle massive checkpoint lines around the country and navigate a heightened security environment.

Nicholas Calio, Airlines for America. Calio and most of the major airlines won a big victory earlier this year when the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced a major proposal to reform the country’s air traffic control.

Kateri Callahan, Alliance to Save Energy. The agenda in Washington is moving in Callahan’s direction as the Obama administration pursues aggressive appliance standards and Congress seeks to finish a sweeping energy bill.

Robert Cresanti, International Franchise Association. Cresanti spent his first year as IFA president and CEO lobbying Congress to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s interpretation of a “joint employer” while also pushing for regulatory reform.

Richard Deem, American Medical Association. The prominent doctors group got a big win last year when Congress approved a fix for Medicare payment rules; now Deem and the AMA has its hands full with implementing the new system.

Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association. Dinneen told a House Committee in June he was “nostalgic” about his 14 years of testimony in favor of renewable fuels; the federal ethanol mandate, he said, “is accomplishing everything it was asked to do.”

Chris Dodd, Motion Picture Association of America. The former Democratic senator from Connecticut is Hollywood’s man in Washington, directing the industry’s lobbying on everything from set-top boxes to drones.

Thomas Donohue and R. Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. With Josten retiring, the Chamber’s leaders are laser-focused on some unfinished business, including congressional ratification of President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Cal Dooley, American Chemistry Council. A leading voice in the successful push for an overhaul of the nation’s chemical safety laws, the ACC’s president and CEO is now working with the construction industry to create more good-paying jobs in the chemical sector.

Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association. Dow was part of a successful push to keep airport security lines at bay and scored some consumer protections in a short-term aviation bill.

Juanita Duggan, National Federation of Independent Business. Duggan took over as president and CEO earlier this year; the group is fighting in court to stop federal rules on overtime pay, union elections and allowing union officials to inspect non-unionized businesses.

Martin Edwards, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. This year saw Congress renew the federal government’s pipeline safety programs, and Edwards and his allies helped keep new mandates in the legislation to a minimum.

John Engler, Business Roundtable. Backed by corporate CEOs, Engler is devoting much of the group’s energy to passing Pacific Rim and European trade deals, reducing U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba and filling the board of the Export-Import Bank.

Marv Fertel, Nuclear Energy Institute. Fertel is retiring after more than two decades of work to get recognition for nuclear as a zero-emission energy source; Maria Korsnick will take over as CEO on Jan. 1.

Camden Fine, Independent Community Bankers of America. Fine has been the group’s energetic leader since 2004, helping to ensure that community banks have allies on both sides of the aisle.

Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association. The top card for the casino lobby, Freeman is leading the charge against the federal ban on sports betting.

David French, National Retail Federation. French fights hard for the retail industry and was on the front lines of the battle over the Labor Department’s new overtime rule.

Lee Fuller, Independent Petroleum Association of America. Fuller and the IPAA put muscle behind the congressional push to expand crude oil exports late in 2015; this year, the group has fought to expanded offshore drilling in a new five-year federal plan.

Dean Garfield, Information Technology Industry Council. The council’s CEO previously worked for recording and film industry trade groups, giving him a wide-angle perspective.

Jack Gerard, American Petroleum Institute. Gerard has been working tirelessly to increase the oil and gas industry’s profile on the campaign trail and in Congress, including a successful effort last year to repeal the ban on crude oil exports.

Jerry Giovaniello, National Association of Realtors. Realtors give their seal of approval to Giovaniello, who ably represents them on issues like flood insurance, mortgage disclosure rules, credit reporting and housing finance reform.

Rob Gramlich, American Wind Energy Association. Gramlich leads the group’s federal lobbying in pursuit of an ambitious goal: making wind power 20 percent of all American energy by 2030.

James Greenwood, Biotechnology Industry Organization. The former Republican congressman, now head of the biotech group, has the challenge of defending drug prices at a time of heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

Edward Hamberger, Association of American Railroads. Hamberger is leading an aggressive industry charge against a proposed rule requiring two-person crews for most trains.

Gerald Howard, National Association of Home Builders. Howard is aiming to lighten the weight of the Obama administration’s regulations on the sector and push through an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Erik Huey, Entertainment Software Association. Huey gets issues important to the video game industry in front of lawmakers, with intellectual property protections and online piracy scoring high on the list of concerns.

Richard Hunt, Consumer Bankers Association. Between Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules and Republican efforts to overhaul Dodd-Frank, Hunt’s advocacy for retail banks will be high stakes in the next Congress.

Chip Kahn, Federation of American Hospitals. A force in healthcare policy for three decades, Kahn is steering for-profit hospitals through the rapid delivery system reform pushed by the Obama administration.

Dirk Kempthorne, American Council of Life Insurers. The former Interior secretary has led the group in endorsing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and filing a legal challenge to the Labor Department’s “fiduciary rule.”

Thomas Kuhn and Brian Wolff, Edison Electric Institute. Kuhn and Wolff, the bipartisan pair steering the electric utility’s lobby, amplify the industry message on pollution, climate change, cyber security and more.

Linda Lipsen, American Association for Justice. The CEO of the trial lawyers association has dedicated her career to ensuring that all Americans have access to justice through the courts.

Katherine Lugar, American Hotel & Lodging Association. Lugar has helped power up the influence of the hospitality industry; recent lobbying priorities include funding to fight the Zika virus, the Labor Department’s overtime rule and pushing states to crack down on Airbnb.

Walter McCormick Jr., United States Telecom Association. McCormick boasts experience in the last two presidential administrations, giving him deep insight into telecom issues.

Dave McCurdy and Kyle Rogers, American Gas Association. The AGA, led by McCurdy and represented by Rogers, has a lengthy wish list for lawmakers, from tax incentives and pipeline safety to electric grid cybersecurity.

Nancy McLernon, Organization for International Investment. McLernon spent 2016 promoting bilateral tax treaties and trade deals for foreign investment in the United States, providing a counterweight to the anti-trade rhetoric heard on the presidential campaign trail.

David Melcher, Aerospace Industries Association. As president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, Melcher has been on the ground advocating for defense budget stability, space systems and technologies and the interests of defense industry workers.

Mark Merritt, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association. Merritt has worked for insurers and for drug companies and now leads the trade group caught between them: the pharmacy benefit managers who negotiate with drugmakers.

Kraig Naasz, Mark Gorman and David Culver, Distilled Spirits Council. The alcohol lobby hasn’t missed a beat with Naasz, its new CEO, at the helm; among other issues, lobbyists Gorman and Culver have been working hard on tax reforms for distillers.

Rob Nichols, American Bankers Association. A former Treasury official under President George W. Bush, Nichols took the reins at the ABA in 2015; since then, he has guaranteed the banking industry’s seat at the policymaking table.

Rich Nolan, National Mining Association. The coal industry’s policy and financial headwinds are strong, but Nolan and his allies have still notched victories, like the Supreme Court’s February order halting the Clean Power Plan.

Jim Nussle, Credit Union National Association. A former GOP lawmaker and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, Nussle uses his extensive Washington know-how to help credit unions work all the policy angles.

Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association. With a booming healthcare demand for aging Americans, the nursing homes and assisted living lobby has helped shape a flurry of federal regulations that seek to substantially alter reimbursements.

Tim Pawlenty and Francis Creighton, Financial Services Roundtable. Representing some of the biggest names on Wall Street, Pawlenty – a former GOP presidential candidate and Minnesota governor – and Creighton – a former top staffer to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) – carry bipartisan bona fides.

Richard Pollack, American Hospital Association. In Pollack’s first year leading the nation’s largest hospitals group, he helped avert additional industry payment cuts in Congress’s landmark 21st Century Cures Act while navigating another year of ObamaCare’s rollout.

Michael Powell, National Cable & Telecommunications Association. The association has been an aggressive opponent of the FCC’s set-top box proposal, with Powell, a former Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, leading the charge.

Craig Purser and Laurie Knight, National Beer Wholesalers Association. The wholesalers have stressed the importance of keeping the industry competitive at a time when large beer producers, like SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev, have been consolidating.

Leigh Ann Pusey, American Insurance Association. Pusey has been president and CEO of the AIA since 2009, championing insurer interests in areas like financial services and tax and trade policy.

John Rother, National Coalition on Health Care. Rother is a leading advocate for lowering prescription drug prices, and his moment appears to be at hand as calls for action rise in both parties.

Bob Rusbuldt and Charles Symington, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. The “Big I” won a two-year delay on ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax” at the end of 2015; now it’s seeking to stop the privatization of national flood insurance.

Norb Ryan Jr., Military Officers Association of America. A retired Navy vice admiral with commanding policy knowledge, Ryan has served as president and CEO of the Military Officers Association of America for 13 years.

Stephen Sandherr, The Associated General Contractors of America. Sandher has been with the construction worker trade group since 1984, bringing a wealth of knowledge to issues like infrastructure spending.

J.C. Scott, AdvaMed. Scott became AdvaMed’s top lobbyist this year, shouldering responsibility for a multibillion-dollar medical device industry that is increasingly under the scrutiny of federal and state regulators.

Gary Shapiro, Consumer Electronics Association. Shapiro is CEO of the trade association that puts on CES, one of the biggest consumer technology events of the year.

Cicely Simpson, National Restaurant Association. Simpson, who joined the group last year, is off to a fast start as the leader of policy shop for the restaurant industry group, ramping up its lobbying.

Gordon Smith, National Association of Broadcasters. Smith manages the association’s expansive portfolio, which this year included a spectrum auction that allows broadcasters to vacate the airwaves for potentially large payouts.

Scott Talbott, Electronic Transactions Association. Talbott is at the forefront of cybersecurity reforms in the industry where finance and technology meet.

Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation. Thatcher has the farming community behind her as she seeks to influence policy on crop insurance funding, the labeling of genetically modified food and preventive measures for food-borne illnesses, just for starters.

Chet Thompson, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. Thompson is president of the AFPM, a refining and petrochemical industry group that has been at the vanguard of opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Jay Timmons and Aric Newhouse, National Association of Manufacturers. Flexing manufacturing’s muscle, Timmons and Newhouse won greater protections for trade secrets; now they are pressing lawmakers to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make the Export-Import Bank fully functional.

Stephen Ubl, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Ubl became head of the drug-makers’ group last year and has sought to get out the word about drug company innovation as his members contend with controversy over drug prices.

Dirk Van Dongen, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. From Department of Labor wage rules to healthcare taxes and policy papers, Van Dongen and his team are in the center of the action on issues affecting wholesale trade.

Nathaniel Wienecke, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Wienecke’s team has homed in on cybersecurity and data breach prevention after a spate of hacking attacks hitting political organizations, businesses and websites across the country.

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Top Grassroots Lobbyists

Anna Aurilio, Environment America. Aurilio is working to dramatically increase the use of renewable energy, with a focus on solar power, as green advocates seek to build on the Obama administration’s policies.

Matt Bennett, Third Way. Bennett’s think tank carries the banner for centrism and has spoken up over the last year about new gun regulations, free trade, entitlement reform and updates to No Child Left Behind.

Ken Cook, Environmental Working Group. The group played a leading role in passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a landmark regulatory overhaul that was decades in the making.

Chris Cox, National Rifle Association. Cox shifted the gun lobby’s focus to blocking the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, arguing the judge is hostile to the Second Amendment.

Steve Ellis, Taxpayers for Common Sense. Ellis is vice president of the respected budget watchdog, which advocates against excessive spending and policies that benefit special interests.

Lily Eskelsen García, National Education Association. From fighting for smaller class sizes to advocating a repeal of No Child Left Behind, Eskelsen García’s word carries weight as head of the nation’s largest labor union.

Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers. Gerard, whose father worked as a miner and union activist, has spent more than 15 years at the helm of the union; this year, it’s on pace to spend more on federal lobbying than ever before.

David Goldston and Scott Slesinger, Natural Resources Defense Council. Goldston, the council’s government affairs and advocacy head, and Slesinger, its legislative affairs director, went on the offensive this year, pushing lawmakers on funding for Flint, Mich., and attacking anti-environment riders in spending bills.

Bradley Gordon, American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is a vigilant protector of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and its annual policy conference in Washington is a must-stop for foreign policy-minded politicians and presidential candidates.

Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Henderson has had an illustrious career fighting for African-Americans, women and the LGBT community; he is stepping down at the end of 2016 after leading the lobbying arm of the civil rights group for 20 years.

Mary Kay Henry, Service Employees International Union. Henry is pressuring lawmakers around the country to increase wages for home care and child care workers, bolstered by the union’s robust membership.

Craig Holman, Public Citizen. With populist sentiment running high this year, Holman is working to convince Capitol Hill that the time has come for ethics and campaign finance reforms.

Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund. Krupp and his group had a big victory to celebrate this year with the passage of a chemical safety overhaul; now they are among the leaders of the push for the Obama administration to crack down on methane emissions.

Nancy LeaMond, AARP. LeaMond’s group has driven debate about Social Security and Medicare this election year on behalf of older Americans – a powerful voting bloc no politician can ignore.

Michael Macleod-Ball, American Civil Liberties Union. Macleod-Ball brings campaign and government experience to the table as the ACLU works on hot-button issues such as legislation banning revenge porn, criminal justice reform and police surveillance.

Elisa Massimino, Human Rights First. Human Rights First has been at the forefront of fights over Guantánamo Bay, refugees and the government’s drone strike program.

Meredith McGehee, Issue One. After more than a decade directing policy at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), McGehee is taking up the fight for campaign finance reform at Issue One, though she remains an adviser to the CLC.

Bill McKibben and May Boeve, Anti-fossil fuel activists scored a triumph last year when President Obama blocked the Keystone XL pipeline;, founded by McKibben and led by Boeve, has become a potent force for organizing.

Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau came in part due to the advocacy of Mierzwinski, who is a staunch advocate for government action against predatory financial practices.

Eric Mitchell, Bread for the World. The Christian organization is working toward the goal of ending hunger worldwide by the year 2030.

Matthew Myers, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Myers got a win this year when the Food and Drug Administration finalized its first-ever regulations for cigars and electronic cigarettes, but he is still seeking action to stop the explosive growth of e-cigarette use among teenagers.

Michael Needham, Heritage Action for America. Needham’s group stands watch for conservatism with a key vote system that has the power to make or break votes in Congress.

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist will be a force to be reckoned with in the tax reform debate. This year, his group has pounded the drum for the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Tim Phillips, Americans for Prosperity. Backed by conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch, Americans for Prosperity has advocated against ObamaCare “bailouts” to insurance companies and opposed efforts to make it easier for the Export-Import Bank to approve large loans.

Melinda Pierce, Sierra Club. Pierce and the Sierra Club have been on the frontlines of all of the major environmental battles in Congress this year, including work on the broad energy bill and federal aid for Flint, Mich.

Ron Pollack, Families USA. Pollack is serving his final year at Families USA, capping a 33-year career during which he served as a driving force behind ObamaCare’s passage and rollout.

Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Rieckhoff’s group is rising in power and visibility, this year hosting the first presidential forum geared toward veterans issues.

Andrew Roth, Club for Growth. The Club is a steadfast champion of the free market, seeking cuts to discretionary spending, expanded trade, tax reform and school choice.

Larry Noble, Campaign Legal Center. Noble serves as the general counsel at the organization filled with political lawyers taking campaigns of both parties to task this cycle.

Lee Saunders, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Also known as AFSCME, the formidable union has fought to preserve the Labor Department’s overtime rule.

Tom Schatz, Citizens Against Government Waste. Schatz keeps the spotlight on waste, fraud and abuse in government; his group releases an annual “Congressional Pig Book” that describes pork-barrel projects in appropriations legislation.

Christopher Shelton, Communications Workers of America. Shelton took the reins of the union a little more than one year ago and has already put points on the board, helping workers at Verizon win pay raises.

Tiernan Sittenfeld, League of Conservation Voters. The League of Conservation Voters aimed to drop $40 million on the 2016 election, making the group – and its endorsements, often voiced by Sittenfeld – one of the biggest environmental players of the cycle.

Richard Trumka, Thea Lee and Bill Samuel, AFL-CIO. A leading voice in the opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Trumka and his team personify union power.

Fred Wertheimer, Democracy 21. A longtime advocate who helms the organization, Wertheimer is indefatigable in his pursuit of campaign finance reform and heightened disclosure rules for political donations.

Dennis Williams, United Auto Workers. Williams was instrumental in the successful push to ensure that academic workers at private colleges and universities are employees covered by federal labor law.

Dylan Williams, J Street. The left-leaning U.S.-Israel group has put its weight behind the nuclear deal with Iran, airing ads against lawmakers in tough Senate races who opposed the accord.

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