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Special Interests: Judy Sarasohn

Fazio Appointment Could Raise Conflict Issue

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, January 20, 2005; Page A23

Vic Fazio was an ideal candidate for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to recommend to President Bush for the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Besides also being from California, Fazio is a former Democratic House member and was active in the fights to save California military bases from being closed. He was a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee on military construction.

Pelosi recommended Fazio last week, as well as Wade Sanders, former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration, who was involved in efforts to realign and close bases.

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The nine-member commission, which must be confirmed by the Senate, will begin deciding later this year which military installations it believes should be closed or realigned. The panel's recommendations go to the president and then to Congress for approval.

The potential for losing their military bases, as well as the economic benefits that come from such installations, has some communities already lining up lobbyists and advisers for protection.

The state of California's Office of Military Support has hired a lobbying firm, Clark & Weinstock. And who is on the Clark & Weinstock team, you ask? Vic Fazio, among others. The head of the team is David J. Berteau, who was assistant secretary of defense with responsibility for base closings under then-Pentagon chiefs Dick Cheney and Les Aspin.

Fazio said yesterday that Berteau does most of the work on the contract, and "I really don't do any work on it." He said he had checked with Berteau about whether there would be any conflict if he was appointed to the commission and was told that each commission decides on its own rules at the outset.

"We'll have to see what the rules of the commission are," Fazio said, noting that, as a former lawmaker from California, "I'm going to be very attentive to California."

Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said Pelosi recommended Fazio because of his "extensive experience." If his nomination goes forward, she said, the issue of whether there is a conflict of interest would have to be taken care of.

The Civil Liberties Front

Morton Halperin, a State Department and National Security Council official in the Clinton administration and a former director of the Washington office of the Open Society Institute, is returning to OSI as director of U.S. advocacy. Stephen Rickard, who became acting director of the office when Halperin went on leave in 2003, is now director without "acting" in front of his title.

Halperin, a former director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, is expected to focus on post-Sept. 11 civil liberties issues and will lobby Congress under his title of executive director of the institute's 501 (c)(4) Open Society Policy Center. He will also continue to work for the Center for American Progress.

Also on the civil liberties front, Lisa Graves, chief nominations counsel to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, will start next month working for the Washington legislative office of the ACLU.

Former Trade Official Hired

Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw has picked up a Republican trade official for its government and global trade group. James J. Jochum, formerly assistant secretary of commerce for import administration, will join Mayer Brown on Monday as a partner. Earlier, he was majority counsel to the Senate Banking Committee and legislative director and international trade counsel to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), currently chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

At Mayer Brown, Jochum will focus on export controls/import administration issues, trade policy and public policy.

"He is a tremendous fit for . . . us," said Peter L. Scher, head of the firm's government and global trade group, who was U.S. special trade negotiator in the Clinton administration and chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

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