Byline: Carol Emert

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation has beefed up its lobbying operations by adding two staffers and forming an alliance with another lobbying group, the National Council of Chain Restaurants.
John Motley, the NRF’s senior executive vice president of government affairs, recruited Kent Knutson and Jacqueline Claypoole from the National Federation of Independent Business, where Motley worked for nearly 25 years before joining the NRF last fall.
Motley, Knutson and NRF vice president Steven J. Pfister will spend most of their time lobbying members of Congress while Claypoole will lead grass-roots outreach. Knutson’s title is assistant vice president for legislative affairs and Claypoole is director of grass-roots and political affairs.
“One thing I wanted to do when I came here was create a much more consistent and visible presence on Capitol Hill and in the lobbying process,” Motley said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Other NRF staffers who have lobbied in the past will continue to visit Capitol Hill occasionally, but they will spend most of their time analyzing issues, finding out members’ positions and writing Congressional testimony and position papers, Motley said. A total of seven NRF staffers will now spend at least part of their time lobbying.
As an example of the NRF’s redoubled lobbying efforts, Motley said his staff and some member retailers have scheduled about 20 meetings on Capitol Hill over the next four to five months on the issue of Most Favored Nation status for China.
In the past, the NRF was more likely to wait until shortly before Congressional votes on MFN in the summer before shifting into high gear, Motley said.
“It’s an ounce of prevention,” he said. “If we can get up there early with our position, we can have it become part of the debate and the decision-making process.”
Claypoole will act as liaison with state associations and members. One of her main goals will be to generate revenue of $150,000 annually for the NRF’s political action committee, up from about $20,000 now.
Grass-roots outreach is becoming increasingly important as the NRF expands its membership, as exemplified in its new relationship with the chain restaurant group, NCCR, Motley said.
NCCR has moved its office into NRF headquarters. Its members may now take advantage of NRF programs and services and its lobbyist is treated as an NRF staff member, said NRF president Tracy Mullin.
“We have virtually all of the same priority issues,” said Mullin, including labor, health care, tax and budget policy and free trade.
“This broadens our base and gives us a much louder voice,” Mullin said.
NCCR represents 40 multistate chain restaurants including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King and Wendy’s. Its members employ about 2 million people and generate annual sales of more than $85 billion.
NRF members employ about 20 million people and sell more than $2 trillion worth of goods annually. — Fairchild News Service

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