Kroger is contracting with former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a lobbying push to win approval of its proposed merger with Albertsons, the company said in a press release.
Boehner, who works for law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, will “provide strategic counsel” to Kroger executives and won’t register to lobby.
Squire Patton Boggs’ Tommy Andrews and David Schnittger, two former Boehner aides, and Caren Street, former chief of staff to then-Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, will lobby on Kroger’s behalf.
Kroger is hiring several well-connected lobbyists as it seeks to dissuade concerns in the nation’s capital about the $25 billion merger between two of the largest supermarket chains.
Unions representing more than 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers are rallying against the merger, arguing that it would lead to job losses and price hikes.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the top lawmakers on the Senate’s antitrust panel, grilled the CEOs of Kroger and Albertsons in November, expressing doubts about the companies’ promises to keep jobs intact and lower prices.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is led by Lina Khan, a fierce opponent of corporate consolidation, is reviewing the merger and is widely expected to sue to block it.
“Given the parties’ records of raising food prices for consumers and cutting benefits to workers to pad their own profits, and the unusual circumstances of a $4 billion dividend payment that will be paid out by Albertsons in early November, the FTC should oppose this proposed merger,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in an October letter to Khan.
Kroger, which has told lawmakers that it needs to merge with Albertsons to compete with Walmart and Amazon, hopes to go through with the merger by 2024.
Kroger spent $950,000 on lobbying in 2022, the highest total in the company’s history, according to nonpartisan research group OpenSecrets.
Albertsons, which contracts with Jeff Miller, the lobbyist with the closest ties to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), spent $2.2 million on lobbying in 2022, more than tripling the previous year’s total.
Punchbowl News first reported the news of Boehner’s hiring Thursday.