Plane registered to Montana Senate candidate’s company mirrored fundraising itinerary

Tim Sheehy’s use of a private plane for a campaign would not be unheard of, and is not illegal as long as the campaign reimburses its owner at market rate.

Plane registered to Montana Senate candidate’s company mirrored fundraising itinerary

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With Daniel Lippman

TAKING OFF: A plane registered to the company run by Montana GOP Senate candidate Tim Sheehy mirrored the executive’s itinerary today as he hit North Dakota for a fundraiser and speech as a political candidate, despite scrutiny over the ubiquitous presence of the aerial firefighting company — a federal contractor — in his campaign.

— Sheehy’s use of a private plane for a campaign would not be unheard of, and is not illegal as long as the campaign reimburses its owner at market rate. But the flight comes amid scrutiny of the former Navy SEAL’s continued role atop Bridger Aerospace while running for office, which NBC News reported has restrictions on the use of company resources for political purposes, and the potential conflicts that could pose should Sheehy be elected — though his campaign has said Sheehy would step down from his roles with Bridger and comply with Senate ethics rules.

— Sheehy, Bridger’s chief executive, was set to attend a breakfast roundtable ahead of the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting in Watford City, N.D., this morning, at which Sheehy and North Dakota governor and GOP presidential candidate Doug Burgum were also slated to deliver remarks.

— Last night, the conference hosted a fundraiser for Burgum, according to the agenda. And an RSVP link for Sheehy’s roundtable on the event’s agenda page leads to a WinRed contribution page for Sheehy’s campaign with the tag “MAJOR-DONOR” in the URL.

— This morning, the flight tracker FlightAware recorded a round trip flight by a plane registered to Bridger Aviation, a subsidiary of Bridger Aerospace. The flight took off from Bozeman, Mont., just before 5 a.m. local time, landing in Watford City a little over an hour later — just before the breakfast roundtable.

— During that period, Sheehy posted a photo from his personal Facebook account remarking on the “beautiful sunrise” as he headed to “some meet and greets” in North Dakota. The plane later departed from Williston, N.D., just before noon local time and returned to Bozeman, according to FlightAware.

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TIKTOK’S YASS MEN: “TikTok had hardly any friends in government earlier this year as the Biden administration, Congress and state legislatures were threatening to ban the Chinese-owned video giant.” But as The Wall Street Journal’s John McKinnon and Stu Woo report, that’s changed: “TikTok now has many more friends, with something in common: backing from billionaire financier Jeff Yass. They’ve helped stall attempts to outlaw America’s most-downloaded app.”

— “Yass’ investment company, Susquehanna International Group, bet big on TikTok in 2012, buying a stake in parent company ByteDance now measured at about 15 percent. That translates into a personal stake for Yass of 7 percent in ByteDance. It is worth roughly $21 billion based on the company’s recent valuation, or much of his $28 billion net worth as gauged by Bloomberg.”

— “Yass is also one of the top donors to the Club for Growth, an influential conservative group that rallied Republican opposition to a TikTok ban. Yass has donated $61 million to the Club for Growth’s political-spending arm since 2010, or about 24 percent of its total, according to federal records.”

— “Club for Growth made public its opposition to banning TikTok in March, in an opinion article by its president, at a time when sentiment against the platform among segments of both parties was running high on Capitol Hill. Days later, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stood up on the Senate floor and quashed an attempt to fast-track a bill by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to ban downloading of the TikTok app.”

— “Other Republicans in Congress, including at least five others besides Paul and [Kentucky Rep. Thomas] Massie who received financial support from Club for Growth, have also objected to legislation targeting TikTok,” many on free speech grounds. Still, “with many Democrats already skeptical of a ban, the whittling away of Republican support killed momentum for several bills, including the bipartisan Restrict Act backed by the Biden administration.”

FLYING IN: Advocacy groups continued to blanket the Hill today amid jockeying for a deal to keep the government funded past the end of the month — and to approve a slew of soon-expiring federal programs. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers is flying in dozens of manufacturing CEOs from across the country to pressure lawmakers on the farm bill and FAA bill, both of which are set to lapse on Sept. 30.

— Executives will meet with more than 90 lawmakers or offices, including those of Sens. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Robert Garcia (D-Calif.). They’ll also urge lawmakers to strike a deal on immigration reform to alleviate worker shortages.

— Victims of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Beirut are at the Capitol today as well, where they’re commemorating the 40th anniversary of the attack and joining with other victims of state-sponsored terrorist attacks to rally for sufficient funding for the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.

— The United Aerial Firefighters Association is holding its first fly-in this week. The group will meet with members and staff on the House and Senate Appropriations committees, House Natural Resources Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to underscore the importance of their industry.

United Specialists for Patient Access is holding a virtual fly-in today, with more than 100 meetings scheduled to promote legislation that would mitigate cuts to office-based specialists.

ICYMI — NEW HEMP GROUP SPRINGS UP: “A new advocacy group will push Congress to enact legislation requiring hemp-derived CBD products to be treated like dietary supplements,” POLITICO’s Paul Demko reports.

— The group, ONE HEMP, came together following FDA’s “announcement in January that it won’t regulate CBD products like dietary supplements, citing public safety concerns. Instead, the agency said it would work with Congress to create a new regulatory path for hemp-derived products.”

— “Members of the fledgling hemp coalition include Charlotte’s Web, the Hemp Beverage Alliance, Open Book Extracts and Wyld. ‘We firmly believe that the time has come for Congress to stand with us in advocating for responsible legislation that prioritizes the safety of the countless individuals who rely on CBD products every day,’ the founding members of the organization said in a joint statement. ‘ONE HEMP will strive to strike the right balance between FDA concerns and industry stability.’”

— “Hemp was legalized under the 2018 farm bill and touted as a boon for struggling farmers, particularly in states where tobacco was once a major crop. But continued legal uncertainty has stifled the growth of the market,” chiefly due to FDA’s stance “that beverages and edibles containing CBD remain illegal under federal law.”

— Now, “hemp advocates and state cannabis regulators are pushing for policy changes in the 2023 farm bill, but congressional timing for consideration of that must-pass bill remains murky.”

WEED OUT:Ron DeSantis is no fan of weed. The Florida governor recently called recreational pot a ‘real problem,’ lamented marijuana’s ‘stench’ and grimly warned that ‘drugs are killing this country.’ There’s just one hitch: The person effectively running DeSantis’ presidential campaign is orchestrating a pro-pot push in Florida,” our Alex Isenstadt reports.

— “Axiom Strategies and Vanguard Field Strategies, firms helmed by prominent Republican strategist Jeff Roe, have been paid nearly $29 million by an organization pushing a 2024 ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana.”

— “A DeSantis-aligned attorney general is fighting their work, and the governor himself has said he broadly opposes legalization. But as Axiom and Vanguard try to circumvent DeSantis’ opposition to weed in Florida, they’re also trying to get him elected president — in part on an anti-weed platform.”

— “That the firms have taken on conflicting clients illustrates the peril that comes with how DeSantis has designed his political apparatus, something that has increasingly become a topic of discussion within the governor’s orbit. Because the campaign and super PAC are legally prohibited from coordinating, DeSantis has had to bet his political future on an outfit whose approach and interests don’t always align with his own.”

Jobs Report

Tiger Hill Partners has hired Holly Radel as executive vice president of public affairs and communications. She was previously COO and managing director for institutional relations at the Global Private Capital Association.

Rick Zampelli is joining Cornerstone Government Affairs. He was previously director of the Army’s liaison office to the House.

Meghan Cline has joined the National Pork Producers Council as director of policy communications. Cline most recently served as communications director for JBS USA and Pilgrim’s.

Margaret Iuculano is joining the America First Policy Institute as senior adviser to the CEO for strategic partnerships. She previously was executive vice president of FreedomWorks.

United Airlines promoted Josh Earnest to executive vice president of communications and advertising and Terri Fariello to executive vice president of government affairs and global public policy. Earnest previously served as White House press secretary under President Barack Obama while Fariello previously led Exxon Mobil’s federal and state government affairs team.

David Concepcion is now senior director at Black Rock Group. He was previously director of media monitoring at America Rising.

Rachel Zaentz is now senior media relations officer at the Office of the President of the University of California. She most recently was vice president for communications at Linked Learning Alliance.

Calli Cooper is now managing director at FlexPoint Media. She most recently was marketing director on Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign.

Mara Kunin is joining The Adwell Group as executive vice president. She previously was regional political director at the DCCC and is an Angie Craig alum.

Stacy Ettinger is the new senior vice president of supply chain and trade at the Solar Energy Industries Association, Morning Energy reports. She most recently was a partner at K&L Gates focused on international trade policy and is an alum of the Commerce Department and Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has added John Holler as a low-carbon fuels and transportation senior fellow, Eda Kosma as an international fellow specializing in international climate finance and transparency, and Sophia Haber as an international policy analyst, per Morning Energy. Holler previously was a senior program officer at World Wildlife Fund, focused on sustainable fuels.

New Joint Fundraisers

WISCONSIN SENATE VICTORY FUND (WI Senate Republican Nominee Fund 2024, NRSC)

New PACs

Beverly Shores Future LLC (Hybrid PAC)
California Project 2024 (Hybrid PAC)
Cure USA (Super PAC)
PrizePicks PAC (PAC)


Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Fox Waterway Agency
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Hoover Circular Solutions
Invariant LLC: Arm Holdings Plc
K&L Gates, LLP: Virginia Hospital And Healthcare Association
Thorn Run Partners: Cactus Materials, Inc.
Waxman Strategies: Industrious Labs

New Lobbying Terminations

Sbl Strategies, LLC: Yandex N.V.