Archive for August, 2011

President Obama Prepares Jobs Speech

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Caren Z. Turner

In less than one week President Obama will deliver his highly-anticipated major speech on the economy, with a main focus on job creation. While the details of the President’s initiative are still being ironed out, labor leaders and many Democrats are urging him to lay out strong proposals that are solution-oriented rather than proposals designed to appease political opposition in Congress.

“Will he commit all his energy to offering bold solutions, or will he continue to work with the tea party?” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at a recent breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “If he falls into nibbling around the edges, history will judge him and working people will judge him.”

It is as yet unclear what direction the President will take: advancing limited initiatives which will have a greater chance of passing the Republican-led House, or offering a broad stimulus plan that will appeal to his Democratic and liberal base.

Administration officials who are aware of developments indicate that the President is considering a tax cut that would directly reward companies for hiring new employees. He may also consider clean-energy tax cuts, as well as new spending for green construction and for rehabilitating schools.

Among other initiatives the President is considering:

• Programs to deal with long-term unemployment including a plan similar to Georgia’s unemployment insurance program that      pays employers to hire workers who have been unemployed.
• Economy-stimulating refinancing programs to help revitalize the housing market.
• Possibly renewing and expanding payroll tax cuts.

As the President continues to finalize his plan, black leaders are increasing their pressure on him for not doing enough to address high joblessness among African Americans.

On August 16, while President Obama was on his three-day Midwest economic bus tour, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) questioned the President’s visit to a nearly all-white Iowa community to discuss jobs.

“Our people are hurting,” said Waters. “Unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why this trip that he is on in the United States now, that he’s not in any black communities.”

Some say that the President’s reticence to give specific outright attention to African American concerns is politically wise, in that it serves to stave off any appearances of favoritism to a particular segment of the American people.

“The president is smart enough to know he’s the first African-American, and I think he’s concerned — I would say afraid — that people are going to think he’s favoring African-Americans,” said Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA), who represents several predominantly black Los Angeles-area neighborhoods.

Adding to the pressures on the President, House Republicans are preparing their own initiatives to tackle the joblessness issue in a legislative agenda that will focus on regulatory and tax relief.

“When we return next week, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will begin meeting to take an additional incremental step toward addressing our debt crisis. During this time, it is essential that the House continue our focus on the jobs crisis,” wrote Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a memo being sent on Monday to House Republicans.

Cantor’s memo further describes efforts to go after “10 job-destroying regulations” which are “reflective of the types of costly bureaucratic handcuffs that Washington has imposed upon businesspeople who want to create jobs.”

Among the regulatory rules House Republicans will focus on are new EPA standards for cross-state air pollution from power plants, boilers, coal ash in mining-heavy states, cement production, and farm dust. We covered this topic recently in an article titled “Saving Jobs: Washington Must Invest In Consistent Approach.”

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit http://www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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Over 100 Business Leaders Join Howard Schultz In No Political Donations Pledge

Posted on August 30, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

More than 100 business leaders have joined Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a pledge not to donate to any political campaigns of any party until lawmakers pass a “bipartisan, balanced long-term debt deal that addresses both entitlements and revenues.” Schultz launched the pledge a few weeks ago via a letter which gained rapid momentum and media attention.

“As many of our political leaders campaign and vacation, the U.S. economy remains in a cycle of fear and uncertainty,” Schultz wrote in a letter (PDF) Wednesday. “We can provide strong leadership on the employment challenges our nation faces. While economic headwinds affect each of our companies in distinct ways, we can all think creatively about how to accelerate job creation and growth as a collective engine for the country. We have to pull this economy forward. We have to lead.”

Among the leaders who have signed the pledge are:

Tim Armstrong Chairman and CEO, AOL

Bill Campbell Chairman, Intuit

Millard Drexler Chairman and CEO, J. Crew Group

Bob Greifeld CEO, NASDAQ

Alan G. Hassenfeld Former Chairman and CEO, Hasbro, Inc.

Olden Lee Retired Executive PepsiCo

Duncan Niederauer CEO, NYSE

Walter Robb Co-CEO, Whole Foods

Myron E. (Mike) Ullman Chairman and CEO, JC Penney Company

Craig Weatherup Retired CEO, Pepsi-Cola Company

Maggie Wilderotter Chairman and CEO, Frontier Communications

Although Schultz has donated almost exclusively to Democratic candidates, the above list includes business leaders who have donated to Republicans. Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL, has donated to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Bob Greifel, CEO of NASDAQ, has donated to Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The overall effectiveness of the pledge remains to be seen, though it is difficult to expect it will make any appreciable impact upon lawmakers in and of itself. However, the pledge has garnered a due attention which has, to a great degree, given voice to millions of hardworking voters across the country who are frustrated with the state of the economy and our leaders’ intransigence in developing any realistic or viable long-term solutions.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit http://www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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Is It a Bird? Is It A Plane? No, It’s The Jobs Super Committee

Posted on August 16, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By Carl Chancellor

Here’s hoping that Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) is able to convince his House and Senate colleagues to embrace his idea of forming a super committee, similar to the super committee tasked with developing a deficit-reduction plan, to specifically address job creation.

Larson, the Democratic Caucus chairman, wants to amend the recently passed debt-limit deal to include a second select committee of six Senators and six Representatives to develop a plan to bring down the nation’s staggering 9.2 percent unemployment rate.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter circulated by Larson, he argues that the country’s debt problems cannot be solved without the creation of jobs.

From The Hill—“This high unemployment poses a very real short-term fiscal crisis, because it drains the federal coffers through increased government spending and reduced tax revenues,” Larson wrote in the Aug. 8 letter.

“Families are being forced out of their homes, children are being forced to forgo higher education, the elderly are being forced to retire early without nearly enough saved to cover their long-term costs,” he said. “If not addressed, I believe the social costs of unemployment will dramatically damage the United States’ status in the world and prevent us from emerging from this recession.”

Larson is scheduled to introduce his jobs amendment when Congress returns from recess. Democrats in the Senate, while not calling for a separate select committee, sent a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) urging him to have his picks to the deficit-reduction panel to also “embrace job creation as part of its mission.”
The letter to McConnell, which was signed by 23 Senate Democrats, said that “…our fiscal challenge is directly linked to the jobs crisis, and we cannot solve the former without tackling the latter.”

Fortunately, putting Americans back to work wont require Congress to possess any super powers, like X-ray vision, the strength to bend steel with bare hands, or even the ability to leap buildings in a single bound, it only requires that lawmakers put politics aside and get serious about creating jobs.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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Is Renewing Federal Gas Tax the Next Big Fight on the Hill?

Posted on August 15, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

With the nation still reeling from the debt ceiling war and the side brawl over the reauthorization of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, many voters are thankful for the break from all the partisan bickering afforded by the August recess. Unfortunately, September promises more of the same when Congress returns to “work” in a few weeks.

In the words of iconic fight announcer Michael Buffer—“Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!”

Political watchers are predicting that the next featured bout on the Hill will focus on the 18.4-cent per gallon federal gasoline tax. In the past the federal gasoline tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993 and is set to expire on Sept. 30, has been automatically renewed. This year, however, the routine has been anything but.

“The White House is going to make a move to renew it. We’ll see — but there will be Republicans who will be resistant to that.” said Doug Heye, former spokesman for the Republican National Committee in a recent Politico interview.

That same article went on to report that conservative groups, including Grover Norquist’s powerful Americans for Tax Reform, are “eyeing the expiration as the next potential front in the spending and tax fight.”

The Senate and House have been working on separate proposals for a long-term highway bill. The chambers, however, are far apart. In the past passage of a short-term extension to allow time to work out the details was routine. But there is growing concern that congressional Republicans will attempt to use the gas tax as leverage during the highway bill talks.

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, letting the gas tax expire could cost the federal government in excess of $100 million a day. The collection of the gas tax, which funds the federal Highway Trust Fund, is the largest source of cash for mass transit and road improvement projects.

Will the gas tax be the next fight on the Hill? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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DOD Cuts

Posted on August 12, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

As you are well aware, President Obama has put Defense cuts on the line in the next round of budget talks. Under the new Budget Control Act, Congress directed a Joint Committee to “provide recommendations and legislative language that will significantly improve the short-term and long-term fiscal imbalance of the Federal Government”, with the goal of reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The legislation must reduce the budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. If the package falls short of the $1.2 trillion goal, across-the-board spending reductions would then be automatically triggered through a process called “sequestration.” Half of the triggered cuts will be in Defense.

Historically, the Defense Department has preserved force structure at the expense of the procurement and research and development accounts. Consequently, defense companies, contractors and others who supply the defense industry must act creatively and aggressively to insure that important programs do not end up on the cut list.

The key to achieving success is in using one’s political base, including a contractor’s subsidiaries and sub-contractors, to protect a company’s programs from being reduced or eliminated. This essentially entails the creation of a massive interface between effected members and their constituents leading to member interface directly with the appropriate oversight committees.   This ground level supplier based grass roots effort creates realistic linkages between local economies, jobs and critical defense programs.

Over the past 30 years, Van Fleet Associates, Inc. has successfully used this tactic to preserve programs of critical interest. While time consuming, this approach can serve as a reinforcing tool to other on going efforts or can stand alone to help influence outcomes. It has the benefit of offering an informative personal touch to members who may not be aware of the criticality of their participation and vote on a particular program. This approach fortifies and expands the relevant political base, maximizes participation, and thus improves the chances of a favorable outcome. Placing the onus on Members of Congress in taking accountability for the loss of dollars and jobs in their congressional districts or States is the only effective means of achieving success. Our current down economy makes this approach mandatory.

We would like to demonstrate how our approach will create a successful outcome for your company.  Please call me without delay at 703-836-6402 or send me an email at vvanfleet@vmgthehill.com.

Townsend A.Van Fleet
President, Van Fleet Associates, Inc.
VAN FLEET ASSOCIATES, INC
1800 Di agonal Road, Suite 600, Alexandria, VA 22314

 

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Why Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Is Important To You

Posted on August 12, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

For companies, sometimes the most frustrating aspect of doing business is dealing with the dizzying complexities of governmental regulations. That is why savvy business leaders turn to firms like ours with the expertise to help them successfully navigate the regulatory maze.

Case in point—the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits companies and individuals from “paying or offering to pay, directly or indirectly, money or anything of value to a foreign official to obtain or retain business.” Around since 1977, the FCPA is not new yet more and more companies are running afoul of the law. In recent years the government has dramatically stepped up efforts to enforce the law, which is jointly administered by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last year charges were filed against 32 corporations, the year before, 2009, there were 34 cases filed.

Further, the punishments meted out have also skyrocketed—Siemens, $800 million; BEA Systems, $400; and, Daimler AG, $180 million.

On Thursday, August 18 we will be presenting a webinar—FCPA Increased Enforcement, featuring Reuters Correspondent Andrea Shalal-Esa who reports on the aerospace and defense industry. The 23-year veteran journalist will discuss the FCPA and will answer your questions.

Today, Reuters reported that Deere & Co., the world’s largest manufacturer of farm equipment, is being investigated for FCPA violations. The article said that the SEC is looking into the company’s business dealings with Russia and other nearby countries.

Additionally, what makes this webinar so timely is the fact that pro-business organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have increased their lobbying efforts to amend sections of FCPA arguing that the rules are too vague and confusing.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.comor call 202-466-2511.

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Should Congress Be Called Back To Work?

Posted on August 11, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By Carl Chancellor

Is it getting a little cold in Hades?

I ask this question because of a bizarre and very strange situation taking place at the moment. I’m speaking about an almost unthinkable convergence; a highly unexpected meeting of minds; a sharing of common ground between two members of Congress who are by any measure on the extreme opposite ends of the political divide. Yet, liberal Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York) and Tea Party darling, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) are speaking in one accord. Both
lawmakers are urging President Obama to call Congress back
from their five-week August recess mainly in response to the S&P downgrade in the country’s credit rating.

“People want to believe. We have given them no reason to believe. That’s the reason our credit rating went down, and not because everyone doesn’t know that we will pay all of our debts,” said Rangel in a recent interview in the Hill. He said calling Congress back from recess could boost confidence in the economy.

“When you lose confidence, you can’t buy it, you can’t elect it,” Rangel said. “It has nothing to do with the budget. It has everything to do with our integrity.”

For her part, Bachmann said Congress coming back to the Hill would send a strong message to worried markets that lawmakers are serious about tackling the debt.

In a Fox News interview Bachmann said—“If I were president today, I would call all the members of Congress back into Washington, DC, and I’d say: ‘Look, we are going to get this AAA credit rating back, and this is what we are going to do.”

Other as well from both sides of the political spectrum from Democratic strategists to Tea Party activists are urging Congress to cut short their August recess and get back to work.

I vaguely remember that after reaching the deal on the debt limit that the President and members of Congress spoke of immediately “pivoting” to address the issue of jobs. I distinctly recall the President saying he wanted Congress to “help companies that want to repair our roads and bridges and airports, so that thousands of construction workers who’ve been without a job for the last few years can get a paycheck again.”

So where is the sense of urgency to find solutions for the number one concern of Americans–jobs?

That needed sense of urgency certainly is not on display in the White House or on the Hill where everyone is in reelection and fundraising mode. Even Bachmann’s sincerity has to be called into question since she has already missed several votes in Congress this spring while on the road campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.

Certainly bringing Congress back from recess isn’t going to instantly solve the mess this country is in, but it would at least indicate that our elected officials place America’s concerns above their own individual political aspirations.

Should the President call Congress back from recess? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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FCPA Increased Prosecutions Enforcement Webinar

Posted on August 11, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Reuters Correspondent, Andrea Shalal-Esa, discusses increased international prosecutions:

  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • Dodd Frank
  • UK Bribery Act developments

DATE: Thursday, August 18, 2011

TIME: 1-2PM EDT

Click here to reserve your webinar seat

Andrea Shalal-Esa covers financial crime for Reuters in Washington. A 23-year veteran of Reuters, Shalal-Esa has reported on the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany and the early years of German unification, energy and environmental issues in Washington, and spent the past decade covering the aerospace and defense industry during years of unprecedented growth and change.

Interested in signing up for our exclusive monthly webinars? Click here.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to insure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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Did Republicans Overreach? Wisconsin Elections Could Tell

Posted on August 9, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

While the fates of six Republican lawmakers are on the line today in Wisconsin, the vote in this unprecedented special election has national implications for 2012.

Voters in Wisconsin are heading to the polls today to cast ballots in a recall election that could unseat six GOP state senators. The recall election is the result of a backlash against the austerity policies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP controlled house and senate that not only slashed state spending but also ended collective bargaining for its public employees.

Walker’s introduction earlier this year of his anti-union legislations sparked wide spread protests. The ensuing political drama included thousands of demonstrators converging on the state capitol and several Democratic lawmakers hiding in neighboring states to avoid voting on the measure, which was eventually signed into law.

Voter anger over the curtailing of collective bargaining rights, deep tax and spending cuts, political redistricting, and stricter voting laws prompted statewide recall petition drives that culminated in today’s special election and a second recall election next week of two Democratic senators. The recall elections could shift the balance of power in the Wisconsin senate to the Democrats. Republicans currently hold a 19-to-14 majority in the senate.

According to some political pundits, the outcome of Wisconsin’s recall elections will serve as a referendum not only on Gov. Walker’s political agenda, but also on similar policies being pursued in states controlled by Republican lawmakers.

Because of the national implications of the Wisconsin elections, millions of dollars of outside money from both liberal and conservative groups—an estimated $30 million—has poured into the state to influence the vote. The prevailing belief is that what happens in the Badger state will be reflective of voter attitudes nationwide going into 2012.

A victory by the GOP in the recall elections will be seen as an endorsement for the tea party agenda of deep spending cuts and no new taxes and will embolden the conservative movement. A Democratic win on the other hand will signal that the Republicans have overplayed their hand and that progressive and liberal voters will be energized to take the fight to the GOP in 2012.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit http://www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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AAA to AA Plus, What Does It Mean?

Posted on August 8, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

For the first time in history America’s top-tier triple-A credit rating has been downgraded, which could potentially impact mortgage and credit card interests and jobs.

Standard & Poors, which had been warning of a possible downgrade in the nation’s credit rating if a debt ceiling deal were not reached, nonetheless pulled the trigger Friday despite a debt limit agreement having been brokered days earlier.

“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,” said S&P in a statement explaining the reasons for downgrading the U.S to a AA+ rating.

Refusing to follow suit the other two major rating agencies, Moody’s Investor Service and Fitch Ratings, maintained the country’s AAA rating.

As expected the Democrats blamed the Republicans who in turn blamed the Democrats for the downgrade maintaining the level of partisan acrimony that characterized the weeks-long debt limit battle. Ironically, S&P specifically cited political gridlock and disharmony on the Hill as one of the reasons for lowering the nation’s credit rating.

Since we are entering uncharted waters with a rating downgrade for the U.S. it is difficult to accurately predict the precise fallout, but here are some likely scenarios:

• Interest rates on American debt could increase up to 0.5 percentage points resulting in higher borrowing costs for everyone
• Interest rates to increase on most consumer and business credit lines—mortgages, student loans, credit cards
• Downgrade could slow the economy—people spend less when they have to pay more—some experts predict GDP, key indicator of a country’s economic health, could drop 1 percentage point.
• Less economic activity means less demand for workers, which could increase unemployment

On the bright side, other nations have had their credit ratings downgraded with few lasting negative consequences. Japan, Canada and Australia have all been downgraded in the past with no detrimental impacts on their economies.

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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