Founder of VantageKnight, Manuel Ortiz is a prominent Democratic strategist and widely recognized as one of Washington’s top lobbyists. Manuel has frequently been featured in national media for his lobbying acumen, including CNN, The New York Times, the National Law Journal, Washingtonian Magazine, and The Hill newspaper where he was profiled as a top lobbyist nine years in a row.
He is a trusted corporate advisor to Fortune 50 CEOs and foreign governments that depend on him for his Washington ties, strategic advice as well as development of comprehensive government relations plans to address complex issues. His extensive experience guiding corporations has earned him a strong, results-driven reputation among his blue chip clients, such as Citibank, Sony, Fidelity, FedEx, Microsoft, Hilton, Qualcomm, Visa, and Verizon. His expertise is focused in the areas of immigration, telecommunications, transportation, financial services, tax, and energy. Manuel is well-known for his work on healthcare and Wall Street reform bills.
As a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Manuel is nationally known for his work to advance the interests of U.S. territories. Senior officials within the Treasury Department, White House, and Congress regularly call upon him for his subject matter expertise on issues related to Puerto Rico and high-level contacts on the island. Manuel’s deep relationships within the current Administration stem from his ties to Secretary of State John Kerry and his integral role as a founding member of Business Forward, the White House private sector outreach platform.
Prior to founding VantageKnight, Manuel was a Shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, where he led the firm’s ascent in ranking from ninth to second place among all national lobbying firms. While at the firm, Manuel played prominent roles in many successful efforts including:
- Playing a central role in obtaining approval from the Department of Energy for a 20-year contract to Export LNG by Vessel from the Freeport LNG Terminal on Quintana Island, Texas to Non-Free Trade Agreement Nations. This is only the second permit issued by the U.S. Department of Energy to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.
- On behalf of Puerto Rico, he led and facilitated an increase in its Medicaid and Medicare funding, from $500 million to more than $1 billion annually.
- Led a telecom policy and economic initiative to persuade Congress, in the context of debt ceiling negotiations, to exclude his client from a new requirement for incentive auctions and fees on unlicensed spectrum. This prevented the client from having to pay billions of dollars in excessive fees to the government.
- Lobbied Congress to include and reauthorize a "pro-investment provision" that allows businesses to deduct 100% of their equipment expenses to help stimulate the economy and job growth in 2008 and 2010.
- On behalf of a Fortune 500 telecommunications company, he led the successful lobbying of Senate and House conference negotiators to accept a limited exception for telecommunications services. These related to the sanctions sections of the bill dealing with U.S. interest abroad. The bill was successfully passed in 2012.
- Designed and executed strategy that led to successful congressional passage of the REIT Modernization Act.
- Successfully lobbied for an education client to carve out from regulations advocated by the Department of Education by strategically demonstrating to the White House the adverse economic effects of the regulation.
- Lobbied Congress and the White House to defeat a proposed rule from the Department of Labor, which would impose significant changes to the client's business model.
- Successfully lobbied the Securities and Exchange Commission to oppose money market rules proposed by the Chair of the SEC, and supported by the Administration.
- On behalf of telecom clients, successfully helped guide efforts to secure approval of spectrum transaction by both the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice after significant congressional oversight.
- On behalf of a Fortune 50 financial services company, successfully lobbied the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and White House over the course of two years to scale back proposed reforms to money market fund rules. This included securing changes for the client on the shifting of funds to a floating Net Asset Value (NAV).
Manuel’s reputation expands well beyond the Beltway. He has been hailed as “the young lobbyist with the most influence in Washington” byWashingtonian Magazine. The New York Times has praised him as, “Puerto Rico's go to guy in Washington,” and CNN has touted him as, “one of Washington’s Powerhouse Lobbyists.”
The Washington Post called him the "Democratic power broker regarded as one of K Street's most influential strategists." Lastly, Golf Digestgave Manuel the nod in June 2011 for ranking 58 in Washington’s Top 150 Golfers.
During his career, Manuel helped launch Quinn Gillespie & Associates, where he played an integral role in making the 1st Bipartisan public affairs firm one of the top ten outfits in Washington.
He had also worked as a transactional attorney with the international law firms of Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand and Greenberg Traurig LLP.
Prior to law and politics, Manuel enjoyed a distinguished tennis career playing professionally in the ATP Tour, serving as Captain of the University of Kansas team and a member of the Puerto Rican Davis Cup team. Manuel is married to Kristin Solheim and together they have four kids.