Chipmakers fly in – POLITICO | #socialmedia | #education | #technology | #infosec


With Daniel Lippman

SIA ON THE HILL: The Semiconductor Industry Association, which represents almost every member of the U.S. chip industry, is meeting virtually with lawmakers today and tomorrow as the sector grapples with global shortages and supply chain disruptions. The trade group’s members — which include Intel, IBM, Qualcomm, Broadcom, NVIDIA, AMD, Texas Instruments and GlobalFoundries — as well as industry partners in the tech, communications and auto sectors, are set to meet with the offices of more than 100 lawmakers. They’ll push for investments in the U.S. semiconductor industry, including funding for the CHIPS Act, which has stalled in the House amid infrastructure negotiations. The industry is also asking Congress to pass the FABS Act, which would establish an investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing and research.

NEW BUSINESS: Qualcomm, meanwhile, has brought on a new outside lobbying firm, hiring a team from BGR Group that includes former chiefs of staff to Senate Commerce ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and several White House legislative affairs veterans, according to a new lobbying disclosure. The team will “provide strategic counsel and advocacy” to support Qualcomm’s “international trade and U.S. semiconductor industrial base priorities,” according to the filing. The chipmaker already spends a hefty amount of money on lobbying, dropping more than $4.5 million through the first half of 2021.

Squire Patton Boggs has registered to lobby for Nissan, a year after the Japanese automaker followed former senators and Squire partners Trent Lott and John Breaux to their new lobbying firm, Crossroads Strategies. Lott, a Mississippi Republican and former majority leader, and Breaux, a Louisiana Democrat, spent a decade as two of the top lobbyists at Squire before Lott was abruptly fired last summer.

— Breaux left the firm shortly afterward, and the pair landed at Crossroads, where they then signed several of the clients (including Nissan) that they’d previously represented through Breaux Lott Leadership Group, the firm they started after leaving Congress and which Squire Patton Boggs bought in 2010. One member of the team who stayed with Squire, Matthew Cutts, will lobby on the Nissan account, as will Lott’s former chief of staff Bret Boyles. They’ll lobby for Nissan on the electric vehicle tax credit.

Good afternoon and welcome to PI. What should PI be looking out for in third quarter lobbying filings? My inbox is open: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

WHO’S BANKROLLING THE FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: “The Facebook whistleblower whose disclosures have shaken the world’s largest social network has drawn some powerful behind-the-scenes help from a big player in the online world: Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire tech critic who founded eBay,” POLITICO’s Emily Birnbaum reports.

— “Omidyar’s financial support, which was previously unreported, has provided a boost to Frances Haugen and the public relations operation that’s helping her take on one of the world’s most powerful companies. This gives her an edge that many corporate whistleblowers lack as she warns lawmakers, regulators and media organizations on both sides of the Atlantic that Facebook is endangering society by putting ‘profits before people.’ And it shows once again that big money exists on all sides of the tech debate in Washington — a fight in which former Silicon Valley insiders have become some of the industry’s most devoted foes.”

— Omidyar’s global philanthropic organization Luminate is handling Haugen’s press and government relations in Europe, and his foundation last year gave $150,000 to Whistleblower Aid, the nonprofit organization that is providing Haugen’s legal representation and advice. And Haugen’s top PR representative in the U.S., former Obama spokesperson Bill Burton, runs public affairs for the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology, an advocacy organization that receives funding from Omidyar. Haugen appeared on a Center for Humane Technology podcast earlier this month.

SHARPTON GETTING INVOLVED IN CARRIED INTEREST TALKS?: The Rev. Al Sharpton has made calls to at least one member of Congress to convey his concerns that the full axing of the so-called carried interest loophole that’s being discussed for inclusion in the reconciliation bill would hurt Black businesspeople trying to build wealth, four sources tell Daniel.

— Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), a member of the House Financial Services Committee and chair of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, told POLITICO that Sharpton called her twice in mid-September to ask her whether a carve-out for those businesspeople could be created. Such a carve-out would be unprecedented and of questionable legality. Two sources said Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) has also called Sharpton to hear his views on this issue, and a spokesperson for the congressman said the two spoke “about ways to help Black-owned businesses. Reverend Sharpton’s National Action Network has a chapter in Las Vegas, and he and Congressman Horsford speak often about priorities for the Black community.”

— “He wants us to think creatively about what we can do, something that, for lack of a better term, splits the baby,” Beatty said. “How can we have a win-win for those who have waited so long?” She said that there have been ongoing discussions about carried interest because a number of Black Americans are concerned, and she has met with several of them in recent months.

— “Black money managers and people are moving into a position where they can benefit from this, and now it’s being taken away,” she said. Sharpton, with whom she has regular discussions, called her twice in mid-September to talk to her before a Zoom meeting that her office set up with Black financial leaders who want to take advantage of the carried interest loophole. Sharpton was not on the Zoom, which lasted between 30 and 45 minutes.

— Asked about his stance on this issue, Sharpton said in a brief interview that he “raised a question about whether there could be a carve-out about Black first-generation people who say that it affects their money. … I’m concerned about the unintended consequences.” He said he was not being paid to bring the issue up with lawmakers, calling it a position of his National Action Network, which has worked on advancing civil rights for decades. Sharpton said later that he wanted the businesspeople’s concerns to be considered as Congress deliberates the provision. “I’m concerned that Black businesses that I fought for be heard and that their concerns be heard,” he said.

AHEARN TESTIFIES THAT HE THOUGHT PARNAS DONATIONS WERE LEGAL: “A top fundraiser for a major pro-Trump super PAC testified at a criminal campaign finance trial on Tuesday that he thought that hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to Republican political groups in 2018 by Lev Parnas was legal to accept at the time it came in,” POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein reports.

— “Joseph Ahearn, who served as finance director of America First Action, testified as a defense witness at the federal trial of Parnas, a Florida businessperson and an associate of Rudy Giuliani, in New York after prosecutors scratched him from their witness list.”

— “Ahearn said he thought anyone throwing around the kind of money Parnas was would have known the rules. ‘It’s my understanding that if you’re going to be writing large checks, you generally would have an idea of what the law is,’ he said. While Bondy focused on some complex aspects of campaign finance law, like the donation rules for joint fundraising committees and attribution of donations from partnerships, prosecutor Nicolas Roos called the foreign-money and straw-donation provisions at issue in the case ‘relatively basic.’ And although the defense has painted Parnas as naive, Roos got Ahearn to say that Parnas actually warned him against taking donations from another man who Parnas said was a front for a foreign oligarch.”

NEW NAME, WHO DIS?: Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse,” a source with direct knowledge of the matter tells The Verge’s Alex Heath. “The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail.”

— “The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment for this story. Facebook already has more than 10,000 employees building consumer hardware like AR glasses that Zuckerberg believes will eventually be as ubiquitous as smartphones. In July, he told The Verge that, over the next several years, ‘we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.’”

— “A rebrand could also serve to further separate the futuristic work Zuckerberg is focused on from the intense scrutiny Facebook is currently under for the way its social platform operates today.”


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