CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY RECENT REPORT ON STEARNS HELPING “TO SHAPE DEBATE IN WASHINGTON”
CQ Weekly, 1/23/13 – By Kristin Coyner
During 24 years in the House, Republican Cliff Stearns of Florida made headlines for his advocacy of social conservative causes such as banning abortion and restricting access to pornography, but more recently he has focused a great deal on telecommunications issues and relations with the European Union. And those areas of expertise were big attractions for his new employer, public affairs and lobbying firm APCO Worldwide.
Stearns, 71, who was a charter member of the tea party caucus in the House, lost a primary last year and is now a senior adviser in APCO’s Washington office and a member of the firm’s international advisory council, a group of former politicians and executives who advise APCO clients on international issues. Current law requires former members of Congress like Stearns to wait a year before registering as lobbyists.
Stearns chaired the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the past two years and won praise from conservatives for investigations of Solyndra, the failed solar-energy company that defaulted on a $535 million government loan, and of Planned Parenthood. Nevertheless, in last summer’s primary in a redrawn district, he was defeated by tea party candidate Ted Yoho, who went on to win in November.
Stearns says he knew a handful of former members of Congress who work at APCO through the International Management and Development Institute, a nonprofit that pays for politicians to fly to Europe and meet with business leaders for policy discussions. Don Bonker, a Washington state Democrat who served in the House from 1975 to 1988, used to be president of the institute and has worked at APCO since leaving Congress. Senior vice president Tim Roemer is an Indiana Democrat who was in the House from 1991 to 2002, and APCO’s lobbying practice chair- man, Donald W. Riegle Jr., is a Michigan Democrat who served in the House and then the Senate from 1967 through 1994.
Stearns will help APCO build up business with telecommunications clients, particularly those interested in privacy and data security. Before chairing the Oversight subcommittee, Stearns was the top Republican on two other Energy and Commerce subcommittees: Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade and Communications and Technology.
“The European Union has a detailed privacy and data security plan,” says Stearns. “At some point the administration is going to realize that we’re going to have to pass either a data security or a privacy bill or a cybersecurity bill — something — just to make it so that we can interface properly both with Europe and those countries that are allied with us that have all of this in place.”
In the last Congress, Stearns chaired the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue, which brings together European Parliament members and members of Congress for discussions.