A California renewable energy subsidiary of embattled Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has joined the rapidly rising ranks of companies scrambling for their piece of federal government coronavirus assistance. SB Energy DevCo (US) has hired Peck Madigan Jones to lobby for “relief” from Covid-19 and for investment tax credits. The newly disclosed effort was effective April 16.
Registered to lobby on the account are former Democratic congressional aide and Barack Obama transition staffer John Michael Gonzalez along with several former Republican staffers: Jen Olson, a former aide to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Jeff Shapiro, who served as chief of staff to Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb.; and Drew Cantor, who worked for Senate Republican Conference. Peck Madigan trade practice co-leader Kristen Harper rounds out the team.
Softbank itself has retained the services of Fierce Government Relations and Subject Matter since last year, paying them $60,000 each in the first quarter of 2020. Softbank also spent almost $1.9 million on in-house lobbying in 2019 and $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2020 alone, including for lobbying on the roughly $2 trillion CARES Act for coronavirus relief.
Softbank and its founder Masayoshi Son have been mired in controversy amid a $13 billion operating loss for 2019 fueled by bad bets on WeWork and Uber. After comparing himself to a misunderstood Jesus Christ, Son eventually acknowledged that he was at fault for the losses.