Interviewees

Jeffrey Birnbaum

Jeffrey Birnbaum joined The Washington Times as Managing Editor of Digital in 2008. Birnbaum formerly worked as a columnist and feature writer at The Washington Post from 2004-2008. He is an award-winning author and television commentator. Prior to that he spent seven years as the chief of Fortune magazine's Washington bureau and two years as a senior political correspondent for Fortune’s sister publication, Time. Before joining Time in 1995, Birnbaum worked for The Wall Street Journal for 16 years. His last job at the Journal was as White House correspondent. On television he is a political analyst for Fox News Channel and is a regular panelist on Washington Week. On radio, he serves as a commentator for the national business show, Marketplace, and also appears on Fox News Radio as an analyst and occasional substitute host for The Tony Snow Show.

Birnbaum is the author of four books. His latest, The Money Men, examines campaign fund-raising and was published in 2000. His first book, Showdown at Gucci Gulch, was written with Alan Murray in 1987. This classic chronicle of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, won the American Political Science Association's coveted Carey McWilliams Award in 1988. In 1992, Birnbaum's second book, The Lobbyists, was a Washington Post best seller. Madhouse, Birnbaum's third book, about President Clinton’s White House, was published in 1996.


Daniel Newman

Co-Founder and Executive Director of MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan nonprofit illuminating the connection between money and politics in unprecedented ways. MAPLight.org’s groundbreaking website reveals relationships between campaign donations and legislative votes, helping citizens and communities hold their elected officials accountable. The Sunlight Foundation called MAPLight.org “a preview of the next generation of money-and-politics reporting.” Dan, an entrepreneur and political organizer, is the author of three books on speech recognition software and is the founder of Say I Can, a speech recognition firm. Dan co-founded the Berkeley Fair Elections Coalition and has served as a consultant to various political and nonprofit groups, including the Center for Voting and Democracy, Israel Venture Network, and the Mental Health Association of San Francisco.


Arthur H. Bryant

Executive Director of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ), a national public interest law firm that marshalls the skills and resources of trial lawyers to create a more just society. Through creative litigation and innovative work with the broader public interest community, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice protects people and the environment; holds accountable those who abuse power; challenges governmental, corporate, and individual wrongdoing; guards access to the courts; combats threats to our justice system; and inspires lawyers to serve the public interest.


Meredith McGehee

Meredith McGehee is the Policy Director at the Campaign Legal Center where she directs the legislative and media policy efforts. She is also the principal of McGehee Strategies, which specializes in public interest advocacy campaigns. McGehee is the former President of the Alliance for Better Campaigns, a public interest group that sought to put meaning back into broadcasters' statutory obligation to serve the public interest. Formerly Senior Vice President and Chief Lobbyist for Common Cause, McGehee was named by The Hill as one of the top nonprofit/grassroots lobbyists in Washington. She has given talks at universities and organizations around the country, has testified before Congress, has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Village Voice, Salon, Broadcasting & Cable, The Washington Times, Des Moines Register and numerous other newspapers, and has appeared on CNN, NBC, ABC and a variety of television and radio news shows.


David Certner

Legislative Counsel and Legislative Policy Director at AARP.


Patrick E. O'Donnell

Patrick E. O’Donnell focuses on federal issues with an emphasis on the executive and legislative branches of government. He combines his legislative and government public policy practice with international and communications law to include tax, trade, foreign policy and national security. Mr. O’Donnell’s career spans a variety of high level governmental positions including six years in the Nixon and Ford administrations as special assistant to the President for legislative affairs and terms as deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice and as legal counsel to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Upon leaving the White House, Mr. O’Donnell served as legislative counsel to General Electric Company and JC Penney Corporation. He served in the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Howard Baker and George W. Bush. After participating in the 1980 Reagan campaign and transition, Mr. O’Donnell was appointed by President Reagan to the Presidential Commission on Broadcasting to Cuba (Radio Marti). Mr. O’Donnell plays an ongoing role in campaigning for Republican Party federal candidates, and is a member of the Senatorial Trust and the Majority Makers of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). He also serves as a member of the Speakers Business Leadership Trust of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

Working for the governments and private sector interests in Taiwan, India, the Netherlands Antilles, Ecuador, Columbia, El Salvador, Serbia and Ukraine


James A. Thurber

University Distinguished Professor of Government and Founder (1979) and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, Washington, D.C. He was the principal investigator of a seven year grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to study campaign conduct. He is the principal investigator of a four-year study of lobbying and ethics for the Committee for Economic Development. Dr. Thurber has been on the faculty at American University since 1974 and was honored as the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year in 1996. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He co-produced three BBC-TV documentaries on the U.S. Congress and elections.

Dr. Thurber has lectured at over 60 universities throughout the world including, Oxford University, Harvard University, Essex University, University of California at Berkeley, and was a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. He has worked on four reorganization efforts for committees in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate from 1976 to present. He served as legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S. Senator William Brock, U.S. Senator Adlai Stevenson III, and Representative David Obey. He worked with Senator Barak Obama on ethics and lobbying reforms. He was Director of the Washington DC based Human Affairs Research Centers of the Battelle Memorial Institute and served as acting Dean of the School of Government and Public Administration at American University. He has been a consultant to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Sandia National Laboratory, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and other federal government departments. He is frequently interviewed by the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN-TV, CBS-TV, ABC-TV, NBC-TV, BBC-TV and radio, National Public Radio and major print publications.


Stephen J Wayne


An expert on the American Presidency, he has written eleven books, several in multiple editions, and over 100 articles, chapters, and book reviews. His major works include The Road to the White House, now in its eighth edition, The Legislative Presidency, Presidential Leadership (with George C. Edwards), 7th ed., two co-authored introductory texts on American Government, The Politics of American Government, 3rd ed. and the most recent, Conflict and Consensus in American Politics published in 2006. In addition Professor Wayne has authored or edited the following works: Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election?, 3rd ed.,The Election of the Century (with Clyde Wilcox), and Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Government? ed. with contributions from graduate students, faculty and alumni of the Government Department of Georgetown University. Professor Wayne has served as President of the Presidency Research Group and The National Capital Area Political Science Association. He regularly lectures to international visitors, senior federal executives, and college students in the United States and abroad on the presidency and electoral politics. He has testified before Congress, advised both the Republican and Democratic National Committees on the presidential nomination process, and worked as a consultant on various film documentaries on the American Presidency.


Aaron Houston

As Marijuana Policy Project’s director of government relations, Aaron Houston is the only full-time marijuana lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Aaron previously served as MPP’s national field director, coordinating more than 100 nearly simultaneous protests around the country and managing MPP’s campaigns to unseat incumbent members of Congress. Aaron also led Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana, MPP’s campaign to pressure the Democratic presidential candidates in 2003 and 2004 to support medical marijuana during New Hampshire’s presidential primary race. (The campaign resulted in six of the nine candidates adopting favorable positions.)

Before coming to MPP, Aaron worked as a political consultant in Denver, managing campaigns and advising various Democratic candidates. He worked as a top campaign aide to the Democratic Party’s 2002 nominee for governor and later managed a Denver City councilwoman’s bid for U.S. Congress. He concurrently served as the strategist and spokesperson for a winning statewide initiative campaign on ballot access, as well as the campaign manager for a winning candidate’s campaign for the state board of education. Aaron has appeared on CNN’s “Inside Politics,” C-SPAN, and NPR and has been quoted in The Washington Post, Washington Times, ABC News’ “The Note,” Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” and many local newspapers and radio programs


Steve Pfister

National Retail Federation's Senior Vice President for Government Relations, a position he has held since 1998. He is NRF's chief lobbyist and directs the Federation's legislative, regulatory, political and grassroots activities. Pfister has lengthy experience and a keen understanding of the intersection of business and public policy, spearheading major industry initiatives on tax, international trade, health and benefits policy and labor-management relations. In 2005 and 2006, The Hill newspaper rated Steve Pfister as one of Washington’s top association lobbyists in an annual series “The Best on K Street.” Pfister joined NRF in 1986 as a Legislative Representative and was promoted to Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs in 1990. Prior to joining NRF, Pfister served more than five years as a Republican Floor Assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Catherine P. Bennett

Senior Vice President of the National Foreign Trade Council, which was founded in 1914 to advocate for trade liberalization and a rules based world economy. She joined the organization, which represents the policy interests of its 300 members through its offices in New York, NY and Washington, DC, in October 2007.


Before joining the NFTC, Ms. Bennett was a Partner with Venable LLP in Washington, D.C., where she focused on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues. Prior to that, she worked for almost 28 years for Pfizer Inc where she served as Vice President of Government Relations and had global responsibility for issues relating to international trade, taxation, and intellectual property protection. Ms. Bennett also served on the National Security Council Staff at the White House and as an aide to Representative Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen.


Honorable Anthony J. Moffett

Senior Counselor at the Livingston Group, and heads the Livingston Moffett International Practice Group. Mr. Moffett served as Vice-President for Global Government and Public Affairs with Monsanto, Inc. Mr. Moffett served from Connecticut in The United States House of Representatives from 1975 through 1983, where he was Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources


Terry Lierman

Chief of staff to Steny Hoyer, Lierman is one of the most powerful House staffers. He works on top Democratic priorities, often teaming up with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) chief of staff, John Lawrence, to discuss strategies and issues. In 2008, he was recognized by Roll Call as one of Capitol Hill’s “Fabulous Fifty,” a prestigious list of the most powerful Hill aides and has been called one of the Hill’s “powers behind the throne.”

Lierman manages Hoyer’s personal and leadership offices, as well as his Maryland staff. “The best part of the job is the combination of policy with politics and management,” Lierman told the Almanac of the Unelected. “There’s very few jobs in the world where you can do all three.”


John Jonas

Mr Jonas served in a variety of positions during ten years of government service prior to becoming a partner at Patton Boggs. From 1984 to 1986, he was tax counsel to the Committee on Ways and Means, where his responsibilities included pensions, employee benefits, insurance, and corporate matters. Mr. Jonas worked extensively on the 1982, 1984, and 1986 tax laws during his tenure with the Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Jonas joined the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee as counsel to Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark of California on the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee in 1981 and was responsible for issues related to insurance, employee benefits, pension, health care and various miscellaneous tax matters. Mr. Jonas played a principal role in the rewriting of statutes concerning the taxation of life insurance companies. From 1980 to 1981, he served as legislative director to Rep. Bob Shamansky and was legislative counsel to Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman from 1979-1980.


Elizabeth Vella Moeller

A partner in the Public Policy & Political Law group, Ms. Moellermanages high-stakes client matters involving appropriations, transportation, energy, financial services, tax and other issues. Ms. Moeller complements her legal counseling with sophisticated legislative, regulatory and media strategies for corporate clients, maintaining a strong Washington network that includes key personnel in Congress, the executive branch and the press. She advises Fortune 500 companies, university research parks, utilities, national non-profits and media companies.

Ms. Moeller has directed federal appropriations efforts that have effectively secured millions of dollars for research and design programs, economic development initiatives, infrastructure development and new technology programs. Ms. Moeller also focuses on helping clients navigate the federal government’s complex process for developing and operating university research parks. She promotes new ventures between universities and industry partners in areas including defense, information technology, transportation and biotechnology.

Ms. Moeller also advises clients on issues in the energy policy arena, having played a lead role in the successful campaign to implement the National Oilheat Research Alliance Act of 2000. Ms. Moeller was acknowledged as a leading Government Relations lawyer in the fifth edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business for 2007-2008 and in the fourth edition published 2006-2007


Larry J. Sabato

According to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Sabato is “probably the most quoted college professor in the land,” and he is dubbed by Fox News Channel as “America’s favorite political scientist.” The Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, Dr. Sabato is at home both in the classroom and in the anchor booth. He is one of just a dozen “University Professors” at U.Va and is a former Rhodes Scholar and Danforth Fellow. Larry J. Sabato has been making national media appearances since the 1970s. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have noted that Dr. Sabato is the most cited college professor in any field in the United States by national and regional news organizations, electronic and print. For example, Lexis/Nexis lists over 400 citations by the media during just the last two years. Every major national newspaper is included, repeatedly. During the 2005-2006 cycle, Sabato logged over 200 television appearances, including multiple appearances on the national TV shows/networks.


Joan Claybrook

President of Public Citizen from 1982 to January 31, 2009, Claybrook is an expert in issues of auto safety, including but not limited to airbags, rollover crashes, safety hazards of SUVs and 15-passenger vans, child safety, fuel economy (CAFE) and truck safety. She served as Administrator of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration from 1977 through 1981. Claybrook is also well versed in congressional oversight issues, good government issues, civil justice, regulatory policy, government ethics, lobbying reform and general consumer issues. Claybrook has appeared on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNBC and PBS, and has been quoted in publications such as The Washington Post, BNA, The Politico, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and The New York Times.


Michael W. Macleod-Ball

Michael W. Macleod-Ball is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Alaska. Prior to joining the ACLU in late 2004, he practiced law in southern Maine for over 15 years. Previously, Michael worked in political campaigns in the Northeast and served in federal and state government positions, including the administration of Governor Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts and the Congressional staff of William R. Ratchford of Connecticut.


R. Bruce Josten

Executive vice president for Government Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is the organization’s senior government and political affairs executive. The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.


Josten is considered one of American business’ most effective strategists in the ongoing battle with the trial lawyer lobby. He served as co-chair of the Coalition to Save Medicare and is sought after as one of the most knowledgeable and articulate pro-business advocates in the health care debate. Josten is the key architect of the U.S. Chamber’s resurgent position as leader of the business community’s policy and grassroots activities in the 104th through the 109th Congresses. In the 104th Congress, when House and Senate leaders sought a prominent figure in the business community to head their balanced budget coalition—the key agenda item in the battle against big government—they turned to Josten and the Chamber. His persistent efforts resulted in the passage of the first balanced budget in 29 years and the first tax cut in 16 years.

In the 107th Congress, Josten co-founded the Tax Relief Coalition and helped enact the $1.35 trillion tax relief package, the first major tax cut in a generation. As the nation confronted its first energy crisis in a quarter century, Josten helped form the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, a coalition working to enact a comprehensive national energy plan. In response to legislative attacks on sourcing and foreign investment in the United States, Josten formed coalitions combining U.S. and foreign companies operating in the United States to educate policymakers and the public on ramifications of restricting sourcing in a worldwide economy, as well as the economic benefits to the United States from foreign investment.

At the U.S. Chamber, he has invested heavily in new technologies to enhance the Grassroots and Advocacy Programs (VoteForBusiness.com), resulting in a state-of-the-art legislative mobilization machine for American business.

Josten has been recognized by Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, as one of the 50 most influential Washingtonians in electing congressional candidates. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Committee of Public Affairs for The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.


John Pappas

Prior to taking a full-time position as vice president of government affairs for the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) he was a public affairs consultant for the Washington PR firm Dittus Communications. During his four years at Dittus, Pappas served as a media and policy advisor for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, start-up firms, trade associations and grassroots organizations like the PPA.

Pappas cut his teeth in Washington politics straight out of college. He worked for nearly six years with his hometown congressman, John Shadegg from Arizona. Pappas handled policy issues for the congressman, including e-commerce and homeland security. He also served as the congressman’s communications director and spokesperson, managing media strategy and press inquiries in Washington, D.C., and Arizona. In addition to his work on Capitol Hill, Pappas also worked on several congressional and state-wide political campaigns.

As PPA executive director, he is responsible for overall operations management, strategic initiatives, membership communication/engagement and recruitment.


Matt Keelen

The Keelen Group was formed in November 2007 after serving for two years as President of Valis & Keelen, LLC. During his tenure at Valis & Keelen, LLC the company experienced unprecedented growth. Prior to Valis & Keelen, LLC, he was president of Keelen Communications, a political consulting firm located in Alexandria, Va. Keelen established Keelen Communications in December 1997 because he saw a void in the services being provided to congressional candidates and political organizations in Washington, D.C.
Keelen has appeared on or in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN “The John Gibson Show,” The Hill, Roll Call, “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” “The Cal Thomas Show” and “America’s Voice” as well as numerous political radio shows. He was named a “Rising Star of Politics” by Campaigns and Elections magazine in 2000, and he was profiled as a “Mover and Shaker” by Campaigns and Elections in 2001. The Hill named Matt one of the top 50 lobbyists in Washington, DC in 2006 and 2007


Thomas E. Mann

The W. Averell Harriman Chair, Brookings Institution

A noted congressional scholar, Tom Mann writes and speaks widely on issues related to campaigns; elections; and the effectiveness of Congress. He has conducted polls for congressional candidates and overseen national public opinion studies. Mann recently co-authored The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track.


Fred Wertheimer

President and CEO of Democracy 21 and Democracy 21 Education Fund, which he founded in 1997. Wertheimer has spent more than 30 years working on the issues of money in politics, government accountability, and reform of the political system and is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities and spokespersons on these issues.

Wertheimer has been described by The New York Times as "the country's leading proponent of campaign finance reform" and as "the lobbyist most closely associated with pressing to change the system." He has been described by The Wall Street Journal as "perhaps the capital's longest-toiling advocate of reducing the role of money in politics." Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne has described him as “the eminence grise of the campaign reform movement.”

President of Common Cause from 1981 to 1995, Wertheimer also has served as a Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University; as the J. Skelly Wright Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School; and as a political analyst and consultant for CBS News, ABC News and ABC's Nightline


Melanie Sloan

Prior to starting Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia where, from 1998-2003, she successfully tried cases before dozens of judges and juries. Before becoming a prosecutor, Ms. Sloan served as Minority Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, working on criminal justice issues for then-Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI). Ms. Sloan also served as Counsel for the Crime Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by then-Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY). There, she drafted portions of the 1994 Crime Bill, including the Violence Against Women Act. In 1993, Ms. Sloan served as Nominations Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, under then-Chairman Joseph Biden (D-DE). Frequently called upon by national news programs to provide expert analysis, Ms. Sloan has appeared on shows including: NPR's All Things Considered, CNN's The Situation Room, Larry King Live and Lou Dobbs, MSNBC's Hardball and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and ABC World News Tonight. Ms. Sloan also regularly provides insight to newspapers and magazines across the country, including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek Magazine, Harpers Magazine, and Rolling Stone, which named her One of the Year's Greatest Mavericks in 2006.


Brian Pallasch

Managing Director of Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Washington, DC. He has been responsible for managing the ASCE’s government relations department including federal and state legislative affairs, regulatory affairs, grassroots, and policy development, since joining the staff in 1999. Since 2008, Pallasch has been responsible for managing ASCE’s strategic initiatives regarding infrastructure including development of the Report for America’s Infrastructure. Prior to joining the staff of ASCE, Pallasch served as the Director of Government Relations for the American Subcontractors Association (ASA), Alexandria, VA, the Director of Government Relations for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Project Coordinator of the Citizenship Education and Peace Project at the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship (CAC) in Washington, DC. Currently, Pallasch serves President of the American League of Lobbyists, after serving on the Board of Directors from 2004-2006. In 2001-2002, Pallasch served as the Chair of the Government Relations Section Council of the American Society of Association Executives. He served as Chairman of the Procurement Committee of the Small Business Legislative Council from 1997-99


Tom Korologos

United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium from July 2004 through February 2007. From May to December, 2003, Ambassador Korologos was Senior Counselor to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, Administrator, Office of Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad and in the Defense Department, Washington, D.C. He was also responsible for all CPA Congressional affairs including a key role in the passage of the President’s Iraq reconstruction supplemental budget request.


In 2001, he served in the Bush-Cheney transition and managed the confirmation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense as well as other nominees appointed by President Bush.

Prior to going to Baghdad, from 1975 to 2003, Ambassador Korologos served as Chairman of the Executive Committee and was co-founder of Timmons and Company, a Washington consulting firm. He served in the Nixon and Ford Administrations as Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs (Senate). In 1980-1981 Ambassador Korologos served as Director of Congressional Relations for President Ronald Reagan's transition and served both the Reagan and Bush Administrations as a volunteer assisting in various Senate confirmations. He also was Director of Congressional Relations for the National Bipartisan (Kissinger) Commission on Central America.


Mike Fraioli

President of Fraioli & Associates, a political consulting firm specializing in general campaign consulting and fundraising. The firm and its predecessors have achieved an enviable track record of working for some of the most senior and respected Democratic candidates and party organizations. In addition to working with dozens of candidates for U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Mike has also served as an advisor to national Democratic party organizations on major events and special projects.

In 1985-86, he served as Director of the major fundraising entity of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, (DCCC). Mike previously served as PAC Director of the DCCC in 1983-84, and Deputy Political Director during 1981-82. He provided strategic and fundraising advice to Democratic incumbents and challengers.

Mike came to Washington, D.C. in 1978 after working in the congressional campaign of Tony Coelho. From 1979 through 1980 he served as Legislative Coordinator for Coelho's first term in Congress. Mike has participated in campaign seminars for Voters for Choice, Campaigns and Elections, unions, associations and various Democratic Party Committees. He has appeared on the Fox Morning News, Financial News Network and CNBC.


David L. Mercer

President of Mercer & Associates, Inc., a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Mercer has worked on numerous aspects of presidential campaigns, including field, media, and fundraising. He worked on the presidential campaigns of independent John Anderson and Democrats Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, and was a deputy finance director of the Democratic National Committee. In 2004, Mercer raised more than $1 million for the Kerry campaign and the DNC and he raised funds for the Hillary Clinton campaign.