The Hill: Top Lobbyists 2019

On December 12, 2019, Michaela Sims was again named a Top Lobbyist by The Hill.

Welcome to The Hill’s annual Top Lobbyists list.

2019 was a frenetic year for K Street, with a number of high-profile fights on legislative and regulatory issues, even as Washington was riveted by impeachment drama and a contentious 2020 presidential election took shape.

In a busy and testing year for the influence world, these are the people who wielded their clout and knowledge most effectively on behalf of their clients.

Not all of those honored on this list are formally registered as lobbyists. The list highlights the broad range of talents needed to succeed in the influence industry. But the people below are all at the top of their game — and the ones the nation’s biggest companies, labor unions and associations turn to when they want their voices heard in the nation’s capital.

The ranks of Washington’s policy experts and influencers run deep, but these are the players who stand out for delivering results for their clients in the halls of Congress and the administration.

Hired Guns

Michaela SimsSims Strategies

Source: The Hill

The Hill: Top Lobbyists 2018

On December 13, 2018, Michaela Sims was named a Top Lobbyist by The Hill for the third year in a row.

Welcome to The Hill’s Top Lobbyists 2018.

Here you’ll find the most distinguished and accomplished professionals from the influence world who are on the front lines of the nation’s most consequential political and policy battles.

The lobbying world faces new pressures and is under greater scrutiny than ever. But the select few on the list have demonstrated their ability to wield influence and deliver results on Capitol Hill and in the administration on behalf of clients and groups seeking a voice in Washington.

Many of the advocates on the list don’t fit the traditional definition of a lobbyist, and only a portion are registered as such. Some are known as “hired guns,” who are brought on in times of crisis, while others represent the nation’s most iconic companies, industries and unions, as well as grassroots groups.

The nation’s capital is teeming with lobbyists and influencers, but when the stakes are at their highest, these are the players at the top of their game, known for their ability to successfully navigate the byzantine and competitive world of federal policymaking.

Hired Guns

Michaela Sims, Sims Strategies

Source: The Hill

Tax Notes: Women in Tax: Pioneering and Progress But Still a Long Way to Go

By William Hoke

The dearth of women occupying top slots in tax policymaking positions is mirrored by the percentage of women who get paid to influence the policymakers. In a 2013 article in The Atlantic, a Washington lobbyist said that while there had been recent increases in the number of women-owned lobbying firms and women in leadership roles in that field, the trend had not occurred in the tax sector, where she said men still noticeably outnumber women. “It’s not unique for me to show up to a room full of 15 people, and I’m the only one wearing a dress,” said Michaela Sims at the time. Now president of Sims Strategies in Washington, Sims told Tax Notes that while there still aren’t many women at the meetings she attends, the situation is starting to change. “It does feel like more and more women are populating the tax space, and I think that’s awesome,” she said.

Source: Tax Notes International, July 30, 2018, pp. 446-449. Published by Tax Analysts.

Reuters: How parents of adopted children foiled a U.S. Republican tax proposal

By Katanga Johnson and Makini Brice

Despite a relative lack of clout, parents of adopted children and adoption advocates beat back a minor change in the tax code that would have removed a tax credit to help cover the costs of adoption.

“Everyone in corporate America had an army ready and in place to push for simplifying the tax code,” said Michaela Sims Stewart, president of the lobbying firm Sims Strategies.

In contrast, parents of adopted children “naturally came together” to form a “small but mighty group,” said Stewart.

Stewart also happens to be a spokeswoman for Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, which brought together a host of organizations, some with strong Republican and conservative ties, to pressure the House leadership to drop the change.

The House proposal was dropped Nov. 2 and the Senate didn’t even bother to make it part of its version of the tax bill.

Source: Reuters

CNN: Adoption tax credit: What the GOP tax bill means to parents and kids

When talk of repealing the credit started percolating, a coalition of activists geared up to respond. They launched a movement — “Save the Adoption Tax Credit” — hoping to stamp out any further discussions.

One of the people involved in this working group is Michaela Sims, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist and former senate staffer. She’s known her way around Capitol Hill for 20 years and isn’t easily rattled.

“Nothing fazes me anymore, and I’ve been specifically preparing for this [proposed cut] for over a year,” said Sims, 47. “But when I saw it in black and white, it took my breath way.”

Source: CNN

Vox: The Republican tax plan raises taxes on families who adopt children

By Jen Kirby

“We must continue to remove barriers to adoption whenever we can,” President Donald Trump wrote in a proclamation to declare November National Adoption Month, “so that the love and care of prospective adoptive parents can be directed to children waiting for their permanent homes.”

That sentiment, apparently, did not translate into the House GOP’s tax overhaul bill. The proposal, unveiled Thursday, eliminates the adoption tax credit, which exists to help reduce financial barriers to adoption. The credit essentially helps subsidize costs — sometimes in the tens of thousands for private or international adoptions — for agency and attorney fees, travel, and post-adoption services, such as retrofitting a home for a child with special needs.

But adoption advocates had been bracing for the end of this credit. In December, House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX), one of the architects of the tax overhaul bill who is also a father to adopted kids, spoke at the Heritage Foundation about tax reform, and he mentioned the adoption tax credit as an example of a provision that could be eliminated. Michaela Sims, a lobbyist and spokesperson for the Save the Adoption Tax Credit working group, said these organizations had feared this since Brady’s speech. But, she told me, “when I saw that in black and white today, it positively took my breath away.”

“It’s stunning to me that this package that is supposed to be pro-family eliminates the adoption tax credit, which is definitely not pro-family,” Sims added. “At the minimum, it’s a tax increase for families who choose to adopt. But at maximum, it could have a chilling effect on adoption.”

Rep. Brady told the Washington Post that the adoption tax credit in its current form wasn’t working because families didn’t earn enough to qualify, or didn’t itemize, and that the new plan would give “families more in their paychecks.” The GOP tax overhaul does outline a modest increase to the child tax credit, which would benefit adoptive parents — but only after the fact. Sims said that increase was great but not enough. “We’re talking about kids not having a home and not having a permanent family,” she said. “Last time I checked, that was very pro-family.”

Source: Vox

Creighton Lawyer Magazine: GOAL Adds a Mentorship Program

Creighton University students participating in the JD/MS in Government Organization and Leadership (GOAL) joint-degree program spend the fall semester of their last year prior to graduation living and working in Washington, D.C.

The centerpiece of the program is a practicum with a federal agency, congressional committee or office of a member of Congress. And starting this fall, a mentorship program has been added. It pairs current students with School of Law alumni living and working in the D.C. area.

Michaela Sims, JD’96, founder of the consulting firm Sims Strategies in Washington, D.C., is the coordinator of the D.C. portion of the GOAL program. She and Michael Kelly, interim dean and program director of GOAL, have been aiming to have a mentorship program in place for several years.

“GOAL is a great program, and we assess and try to improve upon it each year,” Sims says. “A driving force behind the mentorship program is to have more mentors in place to help the students throughout their semester, both with the quality of their externship experience and with their networking for potential post-graduation employment.”

Source: Creighton Lawyer Magazine

POLITICO Influence: Chamber Hill Co-Founder Launches New Firm

Chamber Hill co-founder departs to launch new firm

With David Beavers and Aubree Eliza Weaver

CHAMBER HILL CO-FOUNDER LAUNCHES NEW FIRM: Michaela Sims, a co-founder of Chamber Hill Strategies, has left to launch her own firm, Sims Strategies. Sims decided to strike out on her own after a conflict of interest between two clients at Chamber Hill that couldn’t be resolved, she said in an interview. “It just made sense to split off,” she said. Sims is also a veteran of the Bockorny Group and before that worked for former Sens. Ben Nelson and Bob Kerrey, both Nebraska Democrats. Ted Prettyman is also leaving Chamber Hill to join the firm as a director.

— Sims is bringing five Chamber Hill clients with her, most of them in the health care sector: the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, AMAG Pharmaceuticals, the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care, WellCare and GlaxoSmithKline. The firm plans to focus on health and tax clients at the outset. (She’s lobbying for the American Academy of Adoption Attorney on preserving the adoption tax credit, among other issues.) “I would say our sweet spot is issues that will go through the [Senate] Finance Committee” and the House Ways and Means Committee, Sims said. She’s undaunted by the prospect of launching a Democratic firm — Prettyman previously worked for Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) — in Trump’s Washington. “The party that’s not in power is always going to be relevant — particularly in the Senate,” Sims said. “I would be saying the same if it was a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic-controlled Congress.”

Source: POLITICO Influence