K Street to cash in on GOP ties
By Megan R. Wilson – 11/19/14 06:00 AM EST
A cadre of former congressional staffers on K Street stands to gain influence with the rise of a new crop of GOP chairmen in the Senate.
Lobbyists whose stock is about to skyrocket include those with ties to new leadership on the Banking, Finance, Judiciary, Commerce and Energy committees, all of which business groups will be watching closely in the next Congress.
Incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has signaled that he wants to make committees more active, thereby making chairmen more powerful — and connected K Streeters even more valuable.Here are some of those likely to benefit from the redistribution of gavels heading into the 114th Congress.
Senate Banking Committee: Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Shelby’s former aides on K Street make up a relatively small group for a lawmaker who has been in Congress for 35 years, making them even more prized. There are only about a dozen former Shelby staffers who are registered to lobby.
That group includes G. Stewart Hall, the chairman of Crossroads Strategies, Ray Cole, of Van Scoyoc Associates, and Ryan Welch, a senior vice president at Forbes-Tate.
In addition, three of the seven lobbyists at the bipartisan firm Roberts, Raheb & Gradler worked on Shelby’s staff: John W. Donald, Geoffrey Gradler and Richard Roberts, who served as his chief of staff until becoming a commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Another one of Shelby’s former chiefs of staff, Philip Rivers, lobbies for only two clients: the Financial Planning Coalition, which is pressing for regulations to prevent fraud and abuse within the industry, and the University of North Alabama.
While the financial services industry largely aligns with Shelby’s views, the Democrat-turned-Republican has retained a populist streak when it comes to big banks.
Jim Johnson, an in-house lobbyist at CitiGroup, is familiar with the inner workings of the Banking Committee. He spent six years its Republican counsel, from 2005 to 2011, including during Shelby’s previous stint as chairman.
Lendell Porterfield, the CEO of Porterfield, Lowenthal, Fettig & Sears, was a senior adviser for Shelby and helped craft the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Senate Finance Committee: Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
The Senate’s finance panel handles an array of issues, from taxes to healthcare. Hatch has a large talent pool to choose from when seeking policy advice, with roughly 30 former staffers on K Street.
The ranks include his former chiefs of staff: Michael Kennedy, a lobbyist at software company VMware, and Jace Johnson, who works in-house at Adobe.
Upstream Consulting has a handful of former Hatch staffers: John Haddow, Michael Eging and the campaign manager for his first Senate run, C.M. “Mac” Haddow.
Patricia DeLoatche, a policy adviser at Sidley Austin, most recently served as Hatch’s health policy director on the Finance Committee. Paul Williams, now the director of federal affairs and policy at Bristol-Myers Squibb, had a role as Hatch’s health policy adviser until last year.
Weston Coulam, a lobbyist at Washington Council Ernst & Young and former executive director at Morgan Stanley, worked as a legislative aide to Hatch and could be essential if Congress takes up tax reform next year.
Others who have worked on tax issues for the Utah senator include Evan Liddiard, a senior policy representative on taxation for the National Association of Realtors, and Bryce Pressentin, tax counsel at the American Petroleum Institute.
Senate Judiciary Committee: Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
All eyes are on the Senate’s Judiciary panel to see if it will tackle big issues, including criminal justice reform, an overhaul to the immigration system and patent issues.
John McMickle, who founded JDM Public Strategies, knows that turf well. He worked as committee counsel from 1995 to 2001 under Grassley. His firm represents clients including the Institute for Legal Reform and Taxpayers Against Fraud.
James Jochum worked as international trade counsel and legislative director for Grassley before joining the George W. Bush administration and then helping to found law and advocacy firm Jochum Shore & Trossevin. Some of the firm’s clients have issues that could come before the Judiciary panel, including the Internet Freedom Business Alliance, which advocates for preserving net neutrality.
Senate Commerce Committee: John Thune (R-S.D.)
Thune’s K Street army is small but mighty. Industry leaders are expecting the Commerce panel to grapple with telecommunications law, and watching to see how it will oversee the Federal Communications Commission, policies relating to student athletes and transportation issues.
In his back pocket, Thune has his former chief of staff, Matt Zabel. He now works as the vice president of government affairs for Target, which has a wide-reaching policy agenda.
Also on Thune’s team are Jennifer Bell of Chamber Hill Strategies (who has worked for Grassley as well) and Stephen Replogle of Cove Strategies, who also served as the legislative adviser and director of intergovernmental affairs at the Commerce Department.
In addition, Thune has allies from his own time on K Street. While he mostly operated out of his one-man shop, the South Dakota-based Thune Group, he also had an affiliation with law and lobby firm Arent Fox.
Senate Energy Committee: Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Perhaps one of the most exuberant performances on the GOP’s triumphant election night this month came from Murkowski — who, upon realizing her party had taken control of the Senate, lifted a chair above her head and shouted, “I am the chairmaaaan!”
Birch Horton Bittner and Cherot, a law and lobby firm with offices in both Washington and Alaska, has two former Murkowski aides on board.
Those former aides, Jon DeVore and Zacharia Olson, work on issues spanning many policy areas, including energy and the environment.
George Lowe, a longtime staffer to the Alaska delegation, is now the vice president of federal affairs for the American Gas Association. He served as Murkowski’s chief of staff during her tough reelection bid in 2004. After that, Lowe also worked for the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), ultimately becoming his top staffer.
In 2011, another one of Murkowski’s chiefs, Karen Knutson, became the Capitol Hill’s point woman for the energy company Oxbow Carbon.