Jason M. Childress

Director, Public Affairs

Overview

Jason M. Childress is a public affairs director with Foley & Lardner LLP. He is a member of the Government & Public Policy Practice based in Madison, Wisconsin.

He is a seasoned government affairs professional who counsels corporations, non-profits and trade groups on all aspects of state and local government advocacy and procurement. Jason assists clients with the state legislative and budget process as well as engages with state agencies on regulatory and purchasing matters. He is also a registered lobbyist with the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and Dane County, where he helps numerous clients engage with local leaders to achieve their goals.

As a member of the firm’s State Attorneys General working group, Jason also helps clients to engage the Department of Justice to advocate for the interests of our clients.
Jason began his political career in 1994 and has since counseled numerous state and federal elected officials and candidates on a wide variety of political matters.

Jason joined Foley after six years as the executive director of the State Senate Democratic Committee. In this role, he served three Senate Democratic leaders as their chief political and campaign strategist and managed all media relations, research, message development and finance operations. Jason was the architect of the Democrats’ successful bid to regain the majority in the State Senate in 2006. Prior to this, Jason served as a finance consultant to the Assembly Democratic leader and Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

He has conducted numerous local and national trainings on all areas of campaign planning and execution and is a recognized national leader in state legislative politics.

Non-Profit Experience

Jason also has extensive non-profit experience, having served as the assistant development director for United Way. There he worked with top leadership in every major area employer to secure funding for social service programs. As the regional development director for Special Olympics Wisconsin, Jason worked to secure corporate, individual and government support for the organization’s programming. He also served on the board and as the government relations chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In this role he helped advocate for federal tax code changes to encourage greater philanthropic giving.

Recognition

Jason was awarded the “Marc Marotta Award” for his Wisconsin state legislative lobbying efforts on behalf of National Heritage Academies (NHA). He led an effort to successfully expand the number of charter school authorizers in Wisconsin, providing opportunities for NHA to expand in their mission to serve children with high quality public charter schools.

Affiliations

Jason is the vice president of the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists. He remains active in United Way and is also a board member of Democrats for Education Reform.

Education

Jason was a dean’s list student and graduate of the University of Wisconsin River Falls where he wrote for the Student Voice newspaper and chaired the College Democrats.

Representative Matters

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Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), an advanced manufacturing and Fortune 100 company, was interested in stimulating its energy efficiency retrofit business in Wisconsin. JCI first approached Foley to assist in obtaining a Wisconsin statutory change allowing for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. This statute permits local governments to facilitate loans, secured by a special charge on the property tax rolls, to help commercial property owners implement energy efficiency improvements. Once the state approved the statute to enable building owners to pay over time rather than up front for projects that cut energy use and utility bills, JCI then retained Foley attorneys and public affairs professionals to help implement a PACE program in the City of Milwaukee. The Foley team led the lobbying effort and handled negotiations with city attorneys to address the complexities of this program for attracting private capital for funding city projects. As part of the effort, we built support within City Hall, overcame objections by various department heads, and secured backing from the mayor and key members of the Milwaukee City Council. After conducting an in-depth analysis of current statutes and ordinances to identify necessary changes, Foley contacted city officials to determine other structural barriers and to begin breaking down any bureaucratic opposition. By leveraging relationships of Foley partners with key committee members, we were able to introduce the idea to the city. Understanding the chiller and control technology that JCI and its partners manufacture was important and the Foley team was well versed in explaining to City Council members how the technology would provide long-term payback upgrades. After months of working with city attorneys and our client to hammer out the details of multiple drafts of the ordinance, it was ultimately passed. JCI secured the opportunity to offer expanded services for reducing energy waste to its Milwaukee customers, and a new market was opened up for the company’s products. The city also enjoys the chance to attract real-world capital and create jobs by becoming a hub for clean technology and economic growth. JCI has handled eight projects already in Milwaukee through the program, and has at least 10 projects in the pipeline that could turn into orders thanks to the PACE financing. One of the more noticeable upgrades involves converting LED, or light-emitting diode, technology that saves 40 percent on energy used by the lights that adorn Wisconsin's tallest building. Another project at one building will save 17 million gallons of water per year. In the first few months of the program, JCI has executed contracts worth about $6 million, providing more than 60 jobs in the community. At a Glance: Next-Generation Manufacturing Business Issues: • Sustainability• Facilities Siting, Reconfiguration, and Management• Government and Public Affairs
Represented a national energy service company in proposing new PACE Program legislation for the City of Milwaukee. Negotiated with national PACE Investors and national and local banks regarding the details of the plan and lobbied the City Council, Mayor, Treasurer and other officials regarding the mechanics of the proposed program. Negotiated with the Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation regarding finance terms of the program. Drafted the PACE Financing Loan Agreement for the Program.
Represented Johnson Controls in the analysis of and restructuring of the Milwaukee Commercial PACE program involving consultation with specialized PACE lenders and capital market PACE lenders and the City of Milwaukee executive and legislative branches.