Lab-grown-milk startup adds lobbyist

With help from Daniel Lippman

LAB-GROWN-MILK STARTUP HIRES LOBBYIST:Biomilq, a startup looking to bring to market lab-grown milk that mirrors the nutritional profile of breast milk, is the latest infant nutrition company to turn to K Street as a nationwide formula shortage drags on. The startup has hired ​Grant Leslie of FGH Holdings to educate and engage with stakeholders in Washington — despite the company being years away from having its products on shelves.

— Leslie, who served as a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack During his time in the Obama administration, said in an interview that the company is looking to be proactive because of how novel the concept of developing milk from cell cultures is. “They want to make sure that they are being incredibly transparent, that they are doing early education, that they are building trust, because ultimately, their product is going to be about nourishing babies,” she told PI.

— Biomilq was co-founded in 2020 by a cell biologist who struggled with breastfeeding and was inspired by news of the first lab-grown burger. Its seed round of funding raised $3.5 million from investors, including Bill GatesBreakthrough Energyand the biotech succeeded in producing cell-cultured milk for the first time last year.

— Though the product is still years away from being ready for market, Leslie said, “the current infant formula crisis underscores the fact that caregivers need better access and more options” to supplement traditional breastfeeding and formula.

— “The earlier that you can really engage, and be thoughtful, is really important,” she said, adding that Biomilq is looking to start a dialogue with the FDA about its technology to help “inform the agency’s decision making on this, on exactly how it will be regulated and what questions to ask.”

— The startup’s potential roadblocks may not be limited to policymakers in Washington. The company’s ties to Gates (in addition to receiving funding from his investment fund, the startup’s other co-founder, Michelle Eggerbriefly worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) have spawned conspiracy theories suggesting that a relationship is linked somehow to the formula crisis.

— Numerous fact checkers have debunked such claimsthough, and Leslie said that the issue hasn’t come up thus far and that she doesn’t expect those conspiracies will hold any credence with policy experts.

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CHAMBER TARGETS CHOPRA: “The Chamber of Commerceis going after Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra in a public campaign, accusing him of attempting to ‘radically reshape’ American finance,” POLITICO‘s Katy O’Donnell reports.

— “The trade group, which represents businesses throughout the country, announced Tuesday it was launching an advertising drive targeting Chopra — an ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren — for his efforts to rein in what he views as abuses in the financial industry. The extraordinary move by the Chamber comes after Chopra has repeatedly incensed the industry since taking over as the head of the CFPB in October.”

— “The combative bureau chief has zeroed in on big technology companies, banks and credit-reporting firms, signaling a crackdown on their handling of personal data and fees. In March, the agency updated its examination guidelines to clamp down on discrimination in cases where fair lending laws do not apply, a move the Chamber called ‘unlawful.’

— “The group’s litigation arm sent two letters to Chopra objecting to that amended exam manual and other ‘imprudent and unlawful actions,’ including an update to the bureau’s rules that could make it easier for the agency to pursue enforcement actions outside of the federal court. ”

— The Chamber is also launching a six-figure digital ad buy in the DC area aimed at lawmakers, and has filed half a dozen FOIA requests “for additional transparency” from the agency, similar to the strategy the Chamber has against another Biden administration bureaucrat it views as hostile, Chopra ally and FTC Chair Lina Khan.

WHO’S HELPED SEED AIPAC’S INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES: “Two of America’s most significant Republican megadonors donated $1 million apiece to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee‘s super PAC last month, just before the organization spent heavily on several key Democratic primaries,” per Haaretz‘s Ben Samuels.

— “The pro-Israel group’s super PAC, known as the United Democracy Projecthas spent nearly $11.8 million to date on seven primary races, $6.4 million of which has been used for funding attack ads against progressive Democratic candidates whom AIPAC regards as anti-Israel.”

— “Bernie Marcus and Paul Singer donated their respective totals — only previously matched by Democratic megadonor Haim Saban — to the United Democracy Project on May 10 and 12, according to receipts released by the Federal Election Commission last week.”

— “These dates fall in the week prior to the primary races in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, which attracted the first wave of spending from the United Democracy Project. The Super PAC spent nearly $4.6 million on two races in North Carolina, where its backed candidates successfully won, and an additional $2.7 million in an unsuccessful bid to prevent progressive candidate Summer Lee from winning her Pennsylvania primary.”

AEROSPACE LOBBYING FOR SPACE FORCE LAUNCHES HEATS UP: “As the Space Force begins planning for the next round of contracting for national security launch services beyond 2027, action on Capitol Hill is heating up — with industry lobbying emerging into the public eye,” Breaking Defense‘s Theresa Hitchens reports.

— “At stake: billions of dollars and years of guaranteed business for winning launch providers under the service’s National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program when the current ‘Phase 2’ is wrapped up in 2025. Space Force intends to open bidding for ‘Phase 3’ in fiscal 2024.”

— “Some 25 House members have signed onto a draft letter being circulated by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., pushing restrictions on the contenders. That letter was drafted by current incumbent, United Launch Alliance, according to industry sources; ULA is a joint venture of defense behemoths Boeing and Lockheed Martin.”

— “The undated draft, addressed to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and obtained by Breaking Defense, encourages the Space Force to ‘continue requiring launch providers meet all critical mission requirements.’ This would effectively limit the contest to those companies with large, ‘high energy’ rockets … and block out small launch providers who can only reach Low Earth Orbit … even for missions that only need to reach that lower zone, according to several industry sources. ”

— “Countering that effort is language that survived the grueling marathon of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) debate on June 23. Under that ‘sense of the Congress’ provision, the HASC urges Kendall, who oversees Space Force acquisition, to consider throwing open the doors to a wider pool of commercial launch providers for Phase 3. It also presses consideration of alternate acquisition models, such as indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts or block buys.”

— “HASC Chair Adam SmithD-Wash., has long sought to pry open the NSSL contract, in part championing his home state firm Blue Origin. The company lost out during the Phase 2 round of contracting and has been planning to pitch its heavy lifter, called New Glenn, in Phase 3.”

SPOTTED at a kickoff reception hosted by Southern Company for the 2024 Solheim Cup, which will be played at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, per a PI tipster: Players Stacy Lewis, Megan Khang and Austin Ernst; the Financial Technology Association CEO and Robert Trent Jones President Penny Lee; Pinnacle West Capital Corp.‘s Robbie Aiken, Home Depot‘s Heather Kennedy, FedEx‘s Kathryn Kennedythe Consumer Bankers Association‘s Richard Hunt, Prudential Financial‘s Rex Wackerle, the Independent Community Bankers of America‘s John Coleman, Southern Company‘s Bryan Andersonthe Chamber’s Page Faulk, Palantir‘s Morgan Johnson, Morning Consult‘s Todd Wincup, NextEra Energy‘s Christopher Chapel and Randstad USA‘s E.R. Anderson.

Mariah Greenlee now works in government affairs at SoftBank Group International. She most recently was a scheduler for Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.).

Ryan Shucard has joined Liberty Blockchain as director of public relations. He was previously vice president of public affairs at JPA Health.

Luke Coffee has joined the Hudson Institute as a senior fellow focusing on Eurasia, NATO and transatlantic relations. He was previously director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation and is a British Ministry of Defense alum.

Jack Kalavritinos has been appointed executive director of the Coalition Against Socialized Medicine. He most recently founded JK Strategiesand is a Trump HHS and FDA alum.

Carianne Lee is joining Pioneer Public Affairs as a policy adviser after serving as a senior assistant for Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (DN.J.).

Roman Gabriel is now senior vice president and head of public policy at Lincoln Financial. He most recently was vice president and deputy head of external affairs at Prudential Financialwhere he spent almost two decades.

Kara Adam is now head of the office of federal affairs at Protective Life. She most recently was head of the Washington office for Mutual of Omaha.

Elizabeth “Libby” Coffin is now principal-in-charge of the office of government affairs and public policy at KPMG LLP. She most recently was vice president for corporate and commercial government relations at Raytheon Technologies.

Katie Beirne Fallon has been named head of communications, public affairs and policy at Fidelity Investments. She currently is executive vice president and chief global impact officer at McDonald’sand is an Obama White House alum.

GOP Winning Women Majority Makers (Rep. Mayra FloresBecker for Congress, Cassy for Congress, Madison for Congress, Committee to Elect Jennifer-Ruth Green, Houchin for Congress)

ENGINEERING THE FUTURE PAC (Leadership PAC: Jeremy Schaffer)
Water for America (PAC)
We Push Progress (PAC)

Fgh Holdings, LLC (Formerly Known As The Glover Park Group LLC): Biomilq

Bose Public Affairs Group: National Alliance To End Sexual Violence
Bose Public Affairs Group: National Domestic Violence Hotline
Bose Public Affairs Group: National Resource Center On Domestic Violence

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