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Partisans Bury Old Hatchets in Launching a New Business

By Mike Allen
Sunday, March 13, 2005; Page A04

Robert P. "Bobby" Koch, president of the Wine Institute and brother-in-law of the president, has played matchmaker between two top operatives from the Bush and Kerry campaigns.

Jack L. Oliver III, who was deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee and national vice chairman for finance of Bush-Cheney '04, is going into business with Steven A. Elmendorf. He was deputy manager of the Kerry campaign and the most senior Democratic aide in the House of Representatives when Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) was the party's leader.


Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) shrugged off the GOP's interest in his finances.

Last week, the two joined the St. Louis and Washington offices of Bryan Cave, an international law firm based in Oliver's native Missouri, and launched Bryan Cave Strategies. Oliver, 36, is chairman and Elmendorf, 44, is president. The firm is designed to replicate the lucrative model of Quinn Gillespie & Associates and PodestaMattoon -- both formed by high-profile partisans from opposite camps.

Oliver raised more than half a billion dollars for President Bush's two campaigns, and Elmendorf once managed the House floor for Democrats. Elmendorf said he went to see Koch after the election and asked, "What do I do? Gotta get a job."

"He said, 'You should go into business with Jack. You guys'd make a great bipartisan team. You'd like each other, and I'm going to e-mail him and tell him he should go have a drink with you,' " Elmendorf recalled.

Asked what it will be like to work with a Democrat, Oliver said, "It'll be a new experience and a fun experience."

Oliver will also be a senior adviser to Lehman Brothers, the global investment bank, working with the firm's private investment management business and the global client relationship management group.

In a more traditional coupling, John Hishta, a former top aide to Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) who was executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has become managing director of the Washington office of Mercury Public Affairs, and Michael McSherry, formerly deputy political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is a vice president.

GOP Digging in Emanuel's Files

A researcher from the House Republican campaign committee recently signed out four years of financial records of the new chairman of the rival Democratic committee, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). Emanuel won in November with 76 percent of the vote, so Republicans are not likely to be looking into running against him. Democrats suspect the GOP wants to cause trouble for Emanuel, an aggressive recruiter of candidates and frequent attack dog in the media. Some even saw a coincidence with Emanuel's high profile in the debate over a possible mid-decade redistricting in Illinois, which the party has now rejected.

Emanuel put his assets in a blind trust after being elected to Congress in 2002. "If this is intended to intimidate me or slow down the work of the DCCC, it's not going to work," he said.

Not to worry, said Carl Forti, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Forti noted that a member of Emanuel's staff had accidentally called a top Republican aide for help in recruiting a Democrat. "We thought we'd call Mr. Emanuel directly and ask for his reports," Forti said. "But then we were smart enough to reconsider and thought we'd be a little more discreet."

Walker's Political Trek No Help to Bush

David M. Walker, who as U.S. comptroller general is head of the Government Accountability Office, once was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as the Republican public trustee for Social Security and Medicare. But Walker did no favors for the current President Bush when he testified Wednesday at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Social Security, warning that personal accounts could speed the day when Social Security becomes insolvent.

Walker explained that he has become politically agnostic, because he believes neutrality is important to his credibility and the agency's. "From 1969 to 1976, I was a Democrat," he said. "From 1976 to 1997, I was a Republican. Since 1997, I have been an independent both in form and substance, which is important for my job."

Getting All Guessworked Up

On Thursday, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, sent out a news release by e-mail that said the panel's chairman, Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), "will take to the House Floor this afternoon to offer his response to" a recent report by Democrats accusing the GOP leadership of abusing its power.

Dreier had signed up to talk but, alas, his purpose was dryer than Slaughter had guessed: a 30-minute special order speech on stock options, and their role for workers and growing firms.

New Battles to Join

Advocacy groups on opposite sides of lawsuit reform are launching new campaigns this week. USAction, working for what it calls economic justice and consumer rights, will oppose Bush's agenda with an "I'm Not Frivolous" campaign of Capitol Hill activity and television and newspaper ads, timed to coincide with an advocacy conference of the American Medical Association.

The Seniors Coalition, which calls itself an alternative to the AARP, will begin a new message on foreign drug reimportation based on polling by the Luntz Research Cos. showing that while people favor the importation of drugs from Canada, they are strongly opposed when they learn that Congress is considering legislation to allow drugs to come in from other countries, such as Latvia and Portugal.

Quotable

"I appreciate the gentlewoman's clarification of the job of the chair."

-- House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), a stickler for decorum, after Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) briefly lectured him during a Social Security hearing.


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