Helium balloon maker shows lobbyists love

As Valentine's Day nears, company hires Alpine Group to help with commercial gas shortage

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A company that sells a popular Valentine's Day decoration — the helium balloon — is floating a pair of new advocates toward Capitol Hill.

North Carolina-based wholesaler Helium & Balloons Across America has hired the Alpine Group to lobby on its behalf, according to documents filed Wednesday with the U.S. Senate.

Greg Means, a former chief of staff for ex-Rep. Dennis Eckart, D-Ohio, and Mike Henry, a former staffer on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will handle the account, the Senate filing shows.

The documents state that the lobbying duo will press the government on issues "affecting domestic helium supply and pricing."

A company employee confirmed the company is concerned about helium supply issues, and forwarded questions to owner Gary Page, who couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Indeed, companies that rely on the gas are enduring one of the most significant helium shortages in decades, causing prices to spike.

In addition to its namesake products, Helium & Balloons Across America also sells candy and plush toys, such as the decidedly adorable "huggy bear" — a large, white bruin clutching a red heart featuring the words "I Love You."

The company is not the only member of the balloon lobby: An outfit called the Balloon Council has spent $80,000 during each of the past three years lobbying the federal government on legislation that includes Senate Bill 2374 — the Helium Privatization Act — and "issues related to the crude refined helium supply."