3M powers up in Washington as profile rises over PPE

New lobbyists include former aides to McConnell, Biden.

3M has hired high-powered lobbyists from both parties to navigate through the pandemic. Photo by Hannah Black

Editor’s note: This story is the second in an occasional series looking at Minnesota companies’ lobbying presence in Washington.

WASHINGTON — By March 11, public concern over the coronavirus pandemic had escalated dramatically in the United States. 

The NBA canceled its season. Actor Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife had tested positive for the virus in Australia. The NCAA said its basketball tournaments wouldn’t have spectators. The World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. 

On March 12, the St. Paul-based corporate juggernaut and medical equipment manufacturing company 3M signed on a new Washington lobbying firm. 

Former GOP Senate staffers Hazen Marshall and Monica Popp were hired to lobby on “legislative and regulatory issues related to manufacturing of respirators and liability protection during health emergencies,” among other issues, according to a lobbying registration form they filed later that month. 

Marshall, former policy director for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); and Popp, former chief of staff to then-Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), had launched their lobbying firm Marshall & Popp in early 2019 after leaving their jobs on Capitol Hill. 

They’re not the only new lobbyists 3M signed on as the outbreak intensified and as the industrial conglomerate publicly fought with President Donald Trump over the production and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) as U.S. health care workers faced equipment shortages. 

Earlier in March, 3M hired two former Democratic staffers to lobby on their behalf. The company hired two lobbyists from TheGROUP DC: Sudafi Henry, who worked for then-Vice President Joe Biden; and Darrel Thompson, who was deputy chief of staff to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). 

The disclosure form, filed on April 16, said the two lobbyists had been hired on March 2 to lobby on “issues related to the manufacturing and liability of personal protection equipment.” 

3M also hired Patrick Robertson of Confluence Government Relations, a former aide to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), on February 24 to lobby on issues “related to manufacturing of respirators and liability protection during health emergencies,” according to the lobbying registration filed on April 6. 

And the company reported that its in-house lobbyists and other hired firms had also lobbied on issues pertaining to PPE and coronavirus response issues during the first quarter of this year. 

The new filings aren’t surprising, given the scale of the economic disaster and the scope of federal intervention as lawmakers have poured nearly $3 trillion into coronavirus relief packages. Industries including energy companies, health care firms and airlines were all among the many that filed new lobbying registrations listing COVID-19, according to a review of recent reports. 

“As a general rule, a crisis begets opportunities for a lot of folks on K Street,” said Jim Manley, a former aide to Reid. 

3M already had a significant lobbying presence in Washington. The company reported spending more than $6 million on federal advocacy efforts in 2019 — the most it has spent on federal lobbying since at least 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The chemical manufacturing company has made headlines in recent years for its lobbying on toxic chemicals known as PFAS. 

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at the advocacy group Public Citizen, said 3M’s recent hires are an example of the “revolving door” phenomenon in Washington, “in which special interests and businesses hire those who came from government service or who have close ties to those in power to represent their interests.”  

In 3M’s case, he said, “hiring representatives with close ties to Majority Leader McConnell and Joe Biden, potentially the next president, is all part of this influence-peddling game. It is a game that is so expensive that only the wealthiest business interests can play. As such, it is an influence-peddling game that stacks the deck in favor of those who can afford it.”

3M did not respond to requests for comment about its new lobbying registrations. 

Here’s a look at 3M and its recent lobbying activity: 

Annual revenue: $32.8 billion

Chairman and CEO: Michael F. Roman

Number of employees: 93,516

Total 2019 lobbying spending: $6,160,000

Lobbyists: 

Here are the people registered to lobby for 3M, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the congressional database Legistorm: 

 

Lobbying Firm Hired Client Lobbyist Former Employers
3M Co Thomas Geier  Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
3M Co Andrea Hechavarria  Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), John Sununu (R-N.H.)
3M Co Daniel J Hickey  U.S. Department of Transportation, Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.)
3M Co Brittany Masalosalo  Senior Advisor to the National Security Advisor to the Vice President of the United States
3M Co Omar A Vargas 
3M Health Information Systems Megan Carr  Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.)
Baker Donelson et al 3M Co Veronica Pollock 
Cohen Gregory 3M Co Gregory Cohen  House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Confluence Government Relations 3M Co D Patrick Robertson  Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting 3M Co Brandon Kirkham  Marathon Oil Corp.
Faegre Drinker et al 3M Co Brandon Kirkham  Marathon Oil Corp.
Invariant LLC 3M Co Ben Klein  Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.)
Invariant LLC 3M Co Anne MacMillan  U.S. Agriculture Department, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.)
Invariant LLC 3M Co Heather Podesta  Reps. Robert Matsui (D-Calif.), Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.)
Invariant LLC 3M Co Landon Stropko  Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.)
Invariant LLC 3M Co Kathryn Wise  Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Mary Fallin (R-Okla.)
Marshall & Popp 3M Co Hazen Marshall  Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.)
Marshall & Popp 3M Co Monica Popp  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), House Energy and Commerce Committee, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Lauren Aronson  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, House Ways and Means Committee Health Subcommittee, Obama-Biden Transition Project, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) 
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems McKenzie Bennett  Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Jim Webb (D-Va.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems David Castagnetti  John Kerry for President, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Reps. Norman Mineta (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) 
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Nichole Distefano  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), U.S. EPA
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Sage Eastman  House Ways & Means Committee, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Steven Haro  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), U.S. Department of Commerce, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Dean Constantine Hingson  Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Elizabeth Doyle (R-N.C.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Bruce P Mehlman  U.S. Department of Commerce, Rep. J. C. Watts (R-Okla.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Elise Finley Pickering  Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), Bush-Cheney ‘04
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Michael C Robinson  House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Dean Rosen  Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems David R Thomas  Federal Trade Commission, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Paul Thornell  Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for Vice President Al Gore, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) 
Mehlman Castagnetti et al 3M Health Information Systems Helen Tolar  Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
theGROUP DC 3M Co Sudafi Henry  Assistant to Vice President Joe Biden for Legislative Affairs, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
theGROUP DC 3M Co Darrel Thompson  Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Rep. Dick Gephardt (R-Mo.)

 

Money to candidates 

Here are the top 10 federal recipients of campaign cash this election cycle from 3M’s political action committee or company employees giving $200 or more, according to the Center for Responsive Politics: 

  1. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) $22,102
  2. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $18,908
  3. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee $17,100
  4. National Republican Congressional Committee $15,710
  5. National Republican Senatorial Committee $15,701
  6. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) $15,119
  7. Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg $12,130
  8. Republican National Committee $8,734
  9. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) $8,651
  10. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) $8,538

Party breakdown

The party split of federal recipients of campaign cash from 3M’s political action committee or company employees giving $200 or more, according to the Center for Responsive Politics: 

Courtesy Center for Responsive Politics.
Robin Bravender
Robin coordinates States Newsroom’s Washington, D.C., coverage. She keeps tabs on states’ U.S. congressional delegations and writes about how decisions made by federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts impact states across the country. Before coming to States Newsroom, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV. She has been a guest on NPR, C-SPAN, WBUR and other outlets and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Science, Scientific American, Salon and other publications. Robin has a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in journalism from American University.