Missouri Congresswoman Emerson Joining a Lobbying group With Clout
December 10, 2012



Southeast Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s surprise jump from Congress to the top spot at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association turned a spotlight on the group best known as the lobby created to help get farms hooked up to the power grid.
While that Depression-era issue might seem quaint in today’s Washington, the Missouri Republican will oversee an NRECA that now lobbies across a wide body of policy, and its broad national support base has made it a force to be reckoned with on regulatory and political issues.
The group has lobbied in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. It has also weighed in on bills on health care, retirement, cybersecurity, broadband communications and efforts to rein in the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. Its overriding goal, however, is keeping utility prices as low as possible for their members.
NRECA poured nearly $3 million into lobbying Congress last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and $2.1 million in the first three-quarters of this year. The group’s political action committee also contributed $1.7 million to candidates in the most recent election cycle.
But behind those large sums lies a Main Street touch that makes NRECA nearly impossible for any lawmaker to avoid.
NRECA represents more than 900 rural cooperative utilities in 47 states that have a combined national membership of more than 42 million customers. When the group and its members come to Capitol Hill, they’re people who know the lawmaker’s district.
That base supplies a veritable army of 2,500 to 3,000 co-op members that NRECA brings to Capitol Hill every year, outgoing NRECA CEO and former Oklahoma Rep. Glenn English said in an interview.
“We use that. We use that extensively,” he said. That drives home the message to lawmakers that the lobby is focused on “what’s important to the quality of life of your constituents,” he said.
For example, Emerson told POLITICO that there were nine rural co-ops in her Missouri district and that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is a member of one in his Maryland district.
“You’d be really surprised how many of my colleagues actually know a lot about rural co-ops,” she said. “No. 1, they’re members of rural co-ops.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/jo-ann-emerson-nreca-84813.html#ixzz2EegvMgzk

Emerson Joins Her Biggest Contributor
December 4, 2012

Southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson will leave Congress to join a very familiar group.
The Southeast Missourian reports the 16 year Congressional veteran is leaving to head the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of rural electric cooperatives and public power districts.
Emerson had a conference call from Washington, D.C., with reporters Monday during which she said the decision to leave Congress was one made quickly, and that she did not seek out the position. The electric cooperative association is among Emerson’s campaign contributors. The website opensecrets.org, which compiles data on money in elections and the political process, lists the association as Emerson’s all-time top campaign contributor, having given her $79,803.
Emerson said her pending departure wasn’t a long-planned move.
“This has all been very short and very quick,” she said. “You can’t always have control over the timing.”
Emerson said she has met with the board of the organization twice since the last election, and the board finalized a decision to hire her Monday morning.
Emerson comes from a family of Republicans involved in politics. Growing up in Bethesda, Md., her father once served as executive director the Republican National Committee. Before winning election to Congress, Emerson held various jobs with industry lobbying groups, including the National Restaurant Association and had worked in Republican politics.
On Monday she likened the NRECA and customers served by its members to her constituents.
“I just feel like its an extension of the job I am doing now,” she said of her new position.
The area she represents has nine electric co-ops that are members of the association.
Past challengers and Republicans in offices small and large floated their names as replacements for Emerson on Monday. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Cape Girardeau native, expressed interest, as did Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, whose last bid for office was an attempt at a U.S. Senate seat earlier this year.
State representatives Jason Smith, of Salem, Mo., along with Todd Richardson of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Kevin Engler of Farmington, Mo., also floated their names.
Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy was mentioned as a candidate. Cape Girardeau County Associate Circuit Judge Scott Lipke said he’s going to consider putting his name up for nomination, but that he’s not ready to make that decision yet. He’ll need time to pray and consult with family, he said. Late Monday, current state Rep. Wayne Wallingford, who was elected in the August primary to succeed state Sen. Jason Crowell, said he is considering seeking the nomination.
Crowell is being talked about as a potential candidate, but he hasn’t committed to an effort, citing the need to discuss the decision with his family.
“At this time I have no idea about my future plans, but I am humbled and honored by the confidence so many have shown me,” Crowell said in a statement sent Monday after receiving numerous inquiries about his interest.
Crowell’s term in the Missouri Senate ends in January.
A special election will be needed to select a replacement representative. The district covers 30 counties in southern and eastern Missouri. Political party committees in the 8th District will nominate candidates to run in the special election, the date of which will be set by Gov. Jay Nixon.