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Lunch with Ches Garrison and Cybil Roehrenbeck

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Jan 18, 2024
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Ches and Cybil at Tosca. Photo: Maria Curi/Axios

Welcome back to our lunch with insiders series!

  • Maria closed out 2023 by sitting down with Hogan Lovells' Ches Garrison and Cybil Roehrenbeck at Tosca, where they chatted all things tech policy and life in D.C.

Catch up fast: Cybil leads the firm's health care efforts, focusing on AI's impact on the field and telehealth.

  • Ches largely focuses on tech and antitrust issues.
  • Both worked for lawmakers on Capitol Hill before roaming the hallways as lobbyists.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

House lawmakers want to address AI first and foremost through comprehensive privacy legislation, while senators are approaching AI and privacy separately. How do you see the differences in approach playing out?

  • Ches: When you try to pull AI into what's already a fraught and tough privacy negotiation, that may complicate things. And it may be that if ADPPA were to get a conference, AI would have to fall out.
  • If you're just trying to get a data privacy bill across the finish line with some instruction or authority for the agencies to expand it to apply to AI, maybe that would be a way to round it up.
  • Cybil: I could see privacy being a place where people look back and they realize that a lot of the changes that were made there were deeply influential in AI and other topics.

What's the biggest misconception about your job?

  • Cybil: One misconception we always hear is "How is meeting with this 24-year-old really going to help me?" But I've been very impressed. They make them different than they used to when I was there [the Hill].
  • [Hill staff] are extremely knowledgeable, ask really savvy questions, come to meetings prepared, like I've already read through all the materials. So we're constantly reminded that this person can wield tremendous power or influence over your issue.
  • Ches: That lobbying gets a bad name and conjures up images of backrooms and cigars and exchanging money, but it's really just education and explaining issues to staff.
  • I'm just reading and understanding what they're trying to do and the explaining to them how that would affect whatever industry.

Biggest misconception about living in D.C.?

  • Cybil: Bad outfits. I see a lot of good outfits. A lot of great outfits. I saw like three great outfits this morning.
  • Ches: While it is an industry town in a lot of respects, there are nonpolitical people that live here and families that have lived here for generations. I think people on the outside lose the fact that it is a real city, not just the corridor from the Capitol to the White House.

Favorite restaurant or bar?

  • Cybil: Chez Billy Sud. I moved to Georgetown so I could be close and eat there. I love it.
  • Ches: Ivy and Coney. I'm a dive bar person, and that's where I met my wife.
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