SAG names Simmens to top gov’t relations

Beltway vet worked with SBA to help finance indies

The Screen Actors Guild has tapped Lance Simmens, a two-decade veteran of Beltway politics, to become its national director of governmental relations after the post had been vacant for nine months.

Simmens, who was at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles on Monday to begin his duties, had been director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs of the U.S. Small Business Administration for the past year. He also has held posts with the Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Dept. of Commerce and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and he has been senior economic counsel for Sen. Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.).

Simmens had worked with SAG officials last year in helping to create the SBA’s program to guarantee financing for independent films.

“It’s a challenging and interesting time to be in the entertainment industry,” said Simmens, who plans to work mainly in SAG’s Los Angeles offices.

Catherine York served in the SAG post for four years before resigning in April to take a job with an online venture. She had established the union’s first governmental relations department and worked on legislative issues including residuals transfer, child labor, runaway production, copyright protection, tax relief and personal privacy issues.

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