Dec 11, 2017

Schumer, Cornyn alums launch lobbying firm

Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Photo: John Hicks / Getty

A former top aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and former chief counsel for Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are launching a lobbying firm and their first big task is taking on the "backpage" anti-sex trafficking bill.

Why it matters: Izzy Klein, a top communications aide for Schumer, and Matt Johnson, Cornyn's former chief counsel, have worked on both sides of Capitol Hill across 12 committees and the Senate and House Leadership. This type of bipartisan collaboration could help in their work to push the "backpage" bill, which has bipartisan support, through the Senate.

“Both of our experience on the Hill and in the private sector has brought us in front of major tech companies whose stories need to be told on Capitol Hill," Klein said. The tech angle: The Klein/Johnson Group is working with Oracle, a major tech corporation in California, to support the passage of the "backpage," which has hit a nerve in Silicon Valley. Oracle will also use the firm to extend section 702 of the FISA bill before year's end. Google has resisted both measures.

Background on the bill, from Axios' David McCabe: The bill wants to hold online platforms like Google and Facebook liable for illegal ads that have led to sex-trafficking. Internet companies aren't fully supportive of the bill, they say, because they couldn't have grown to their current size if they were responsible for all of the content they host — including on the "back" pages. But, McCabe notes, "by opposing the measure, they're being painted as not doing enough to help the victims of sex-trafficking."

What's next: The group currently has six clients and is starting with a tech-heavy portfolio, but their lobbying work in 2018 will focus on everything from tax reform to infrastructure.

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