Former Rep. Denham files to lobby on trade – and he’s open to lobbying on marijuana

Jeff Denham in September 2018.
Jeff Denham in September 2018. AP

Former Rep. Jeff Denham has officially registered to start lobbying on trade issues.

Denham, a Republican from Turlock, was hired by D.C. lobbying firm K&L Gates in May following his defeat by Democrat Josh Harder last November. Members of Congress are not allowed to lobby Congress for a year after they leave, but Denham is free to lobby the executive branch, including the White House and its agencies.

Last week, Denham registered to lobby on behalf of a company called PPG Industries Inc., which is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s a supplier of paints, coatings, specialty materials, chemicals, glass and fiberglass, according to Denham’s filing and the company website. He will be lobbying on trade issues, according to the disclosure.

It’s the only company Denham has registered to represent so far, according to public records. Denham told McClatchy he did not personally file the registration; it was filed by another lobbyist who listed anyone likely to work on the account in the future.

Denham, who is splitting his time between D.C. and California, said he eventually will take on more clients but not to expect more registrations in the “near future.” When he does, he said he’ll focus on issues he tackled while in Congress, such as water supply and infrastructure.

He said that could possibly include lobbying on behalf of the marijuana industry, which he recently said he now supports being legal on the federal level.

“I have no clients now but if it’s something that I believe would help ease the opioid epidemic and help our agricultural industry, I would consider it,” Denham said.

On Sept. 11 — the same day Denham took part in a panel discussion in Santa Barbara County regarding the potential of wine and cannabis tourism — Turlock police raided an industrial building he partially owned and found more than 4,000 marijuana plants and other drugs inside.

Denham is a member of the limited liability company that owns the property. Denham Plastics is also right next door. Denham declined to comment on the issue Monday and his attorney has said neither Denham nor anyone at Denham Plastics had any knowledge of the illegal operation.

Denham said he hasn’t been asked to do anything on behalf of PPG Industries yet, but that their trade issues are due to retaliatory tariffs implemented by Russia, not the tariffs against China that have been in the spotlight due to President Donald Trump’s trade war.

Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.