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Published — February 6, 2013 Updated — May 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm ET

Interior secretary-nominee no stranger to D.C. political landscape

REI president and CEO to oversee parks


Update (Feb. 7, 2013, 9:43 a.m.): This article has been updated to include previously overlooked campaign contributions by Sally Jewell, including $5,000 given to Obama last year, which were listed in FEC records under her legal name of “Sarah Jewell.”

President Barack Obama today nominated Sally Jewell, the president and CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), to become the next interior secretary.

During Jewell’s last year with the Washington-state-based retailer that specializes in outdoor gear and clothing, the company has seen its profile climb in the nation’s capital.

In January 2012, the firm hired its first in-house lobbyist and reported spending $250,000 on federal lobbying, congressional records indicate. That’s more than double the $120,000 it has spent annually since Obama took office in 2009.

In addition, over the past four years REI has also retained lobbying firm Monument Policy Group, LLC.

REI’s lobbying has focused on natural resource issues, as well as fitness and business concerns, including legislation to “reduce outdoor apparel prices” and opposition to “state taxation of e-commerce.”

Records filed with the state of Washington further indicate that REI spent an additional $18,000 in 2011 for the services of Denny Eliason and Kim Clauson-Hoff of the government relations firm Alliances Northwest, to work on state issues. Documents for 2012 lobbying aren’t due until later this month.

Jewell herself is no stranger to politics.

Since 2006, she has donated more than $50,000 to federal politicians and committees, including the political action committee of the Outdoor Industry Association and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

The beneficiaries of Jewell’s giving include:

  • Obama, $2,300 in 2008 and $5,000 in 2012;
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, $500 in 2009;
  • Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., $1,000 in 2011; and
  • Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., $2,000 in 2010 and $1,000 in 2012.

Cantwell, Murkowski and Udall all sit on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the Department of the Interior and will soon host Jewell’s confirmation hearing.

Read more in Federal Politics

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