The Hill has named Rich Gold him one of Washington's top lobbyists, and he is one of three lawyers ranked in Band 1 for government relations nationwide in the United States by Chambers and Partners, the international ranking agency for the legal industry. Before becoming a lobbyist, he was an environmental adviser to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and a special assistant to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner.
Gold is the leader of the Public Policy & Regulation Group at Holland & Knight, where he has run lobbying campaigns for thirty coalitions including the Biosimilars Forum, which represents pharmaceutical interests, and the Alliance to Restore Our Waterways, an environmental group. Gold lobbied for forty clients in 2018, including the American Chemistry Council, the American Forest & Paper Association and DowDuPont, as well as the cities of Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
Chemical Safety Reform
Gold was influential behind the scenes in the passage of the landmark Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2016 that provided the first major reform of chemical safety regulations since passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976.
Gold represented chemical companies and the American Chemical Council, a chemical industry trade group known for its proactive lobbying. The ACC took the unusual action of supporting sweeping new powers to regulate thousands of chemicals when it got behind the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. In what U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, then chair of the House Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, called a “perfect storm,” the amendments to the outdated TSCA brought together diverse interests, including chemical industry groups such as the ACC and environmental advocates.
Environmental groups supported the act because of their concern that certain toxic chemicals, many of which are used in the manufacturing of consumer products, were not subject to regulatory review by the TSCA. The ACC and its members increasingly were concerned about the uncertainty created by a patchwork of laws being written by the states in the wake of inaction at the federal level. The ACC’s lobbying was critical in gaining bipartisan support of the legislation. In October 2016, the two principal Senate advisers on the bill, Democratic adviser Dimitrios Karakitsos and Republican adviser Ben Dunham, joined Holland & Knight’s lobbying practice. Karakitsos was a principal drafter and negotiator on the legislation in his role as senior staff member for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He collaborated closely with Dunham, the top adviser to Lautenberg, to build bipartisan support.
In 2013, Gold worked with Holland & Knight attorneys Joel E. Roberson and Michael Werner to form PASS, or Public Access to Sunscreens, a coalition that includes sunscreen ingredient manufacturers that want to sell new products in the United States, cancer researchers, dermatologists and others concerned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved new ingredients for over-the-counter sunscreens since 1999. As a result, ingredients that offer more protection against skin cancer and that have long been used safely in Europe and other parts of the world cannot be sold in the U.S. PASS helped write and lobbied for passage of the Sunscreen Innovation Act of 2014, which set deadlines for review of new products and streamlined review processes, but so far, no new ingredients have been approved.
PASS now is defending existing FDA-approved over-the-counter sunscreens from recent efforts to ban ingredients that are believed to damage sea coral. In July 2018, Hawaii Gov. David Y. Ige signed a law that will ban common sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate. PASS joined the American Academy of Dermatology Association and sunscreen manufacturers in opposing the ban, which goes into effect in 2021. The city of Key West, Florida, passed a similar ban in February 2019 that goes into effect in 2021.
Gold and Melanie Sloan, then the executive director of the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, were the initial leaders of a group of lobbyists, good government advocates and members of Congress who sought a compromise on earmarks in 2010, preceding a successful effort to end them. Along with other watchdog groups such as Citizens Against Government Waste and Taxpayers for Common Sense, Gold, Sloan and others tried unsuccessfully to fashion a compromise that would limit earmarks benefitting political donors and mandate more transparency.
Gold has continued to advocate for a revamped earmark system. He co-authored an opinion article in The Washington Post in 2018 arguing that the current system under which government agencies decide what projects to fund has resulted in less transparency and debate over funding because members of Congress pressure agencies behind the scenes to fund projects in their districts. The authors argue for a return to earmarks but with additional transparency and safeguards against self-dealing.
- Perks, Ashley (2018-12-13). "Top Lobbyists 2018". TheHill. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- "Government Relations, USA - Nationwide, USA | Chambers Rankings". chambers.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- "Lobbying Spending Database Gold, Richard M, 2018 | OpenSecrets". www.opensecrets.org. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- Goode, Darren; Guillén, Alex. "Chemical safety reform passes after 'perfect storm'". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- "Top lobby firm eyes new chemical law as big business driver". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- CNN, Maritza Moulite. "Hawaii bans sunscreens that harm coral reefs". CNN. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- "May 18, 2018 - PASS Coalition Submits Letter to Hawaii Governor Expressing Concern Over State Legislation Banning FDA-Approved Sunscreen Ingredients". www.passcoalition.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- Bever, Lindsey (6 February 2019). "We have one reef: Key West bans popular sunscreens to help keep coral alive". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
- Lichtblau, Eric (2010-09-28). "Rivals Reach Consensus on New Earmark Rules". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- Ackley, Kate; Ackley, Kate (2019-02-15). "The dead earmarks society". Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- Gold, Rich; Walsh, James T. (23 January 2018). "The case for restoring earmarks". Washington Post. Sloan, Melanie; Holman, Craig. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
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