Going Left on K Street
The Business Roundtable, one of the capital's most important corporate lobbies, hired Thomas J. Lehner in April to lobby on such high-profile issues as asbestos liability and shareholder rights. Lehner served as chief of staff to Democrat Charles Robb of Virginia while he was in the Senate and is a former treasurer of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The fact that he had Democratic connections was actually a plus.
"We interviewed Republicans and Democrats and this person was the right fit," said spokeswoman Schneider. "Regardless of the outcome of the election, it was important that we get someone who was respected by both Republicans and Democrats equally."
The Arlington-based Equipment Leasing Association retained Democrat David Fenig, aide to Democrat Spark Matsunaga when he was a senator from Hawaii, as its vice president of federal government relations early this year. Fleming, the group's president, said that given the history of regularly changing partisan control in Congress, he decided not to pick from among the hundred applicants someone who was "one-dimensional."
The Recording Industry Association of America and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association each recently added Democrats to their staffs. So did the American Psychiatric Association and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
"After the midterm election, it was pretty difficult to find a job as a Democrat," said Camille Osborne, the new communications director for the satellite association and a former Democratic Senate aide. "But I think that's balancing out now. From what I've seen, Democrats are having a little bit more success."
Lobbying firms and corporate offices have been adding Democrats as well. In December, Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC hired Michael Hacker, a former top staffer to Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan. And in May, Loeffler Jonas & Tuggey LLP, a law firm founded by a retired Republican congressman, Thomas G. Loeffler of Texas, hired a well-known Democrat and a former target of the K Street Project to lead its lobbying practice in the District. Julie Domenick was named managing principal and oversees the work of a dozen or so lobbyists there.
Last year, when Domenick was executive vice president of the Investment Company Institute, Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pressured the ICI -- the mutual fund industry's trade association -- to replace her with a Republican. ICI did hire a Republican lobbyist, but didn't replace Domenick, and Loeffler has only compliments for his new manager. "[Loeffler] was attracted by her talent and her capability, and that was the sole criteria," said Julian Read, spokesman for the firm. "If [her Democratic affiliation] turns out to be an advantage, I'm sure that's a plus."
Corporations such as Viacom Inc. and Amgen Inc. also recently hired Democrats as staffers in their D.C. offices. Amgen, the Thousand Oaks, Calif., biotech company, in fact, named a former senior aide to Al Gore to head its office. David W. Beier, Amgen's new senior vice president for global government affairs, was the vice president's chief domestic policy adviser.
Beier's move to Amgen in December angered K Street Project spokesman Norquist. "That's not very wise on their part," he said. Speaking of key Republican leaders, Norquist added ominously, "People are aware that this has happened. It's going to be treated seriously."
In March, Amgen brought in a big-name Republican, Rodger Currie, a former lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, as Beier's deputy and vice president of government affairs. But the company isn't backing away from Beier as boss.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Dan Glickman, a Democratic former congressman and agriculture secretary, is taking over as president of the Motion Picture Association of America. Grover G. Norquist, a GOP activist, called the appointment "a studied insult."
(Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)