Anniversary Steeped in Bipartisan Goodwill

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, May 19, 2005

In a town riven by partisanship, Cassidy & Associates' 30th-anniversary party Tuesday night was positively brimming over with political goodwill.

Gerald S.J. Cassidy , the founder of the lobby shop, is as Democratic as they come. Active through the years in the Democratic Party, Cassidy was general counsel to then-Sen. George McGovern's Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. (McGovern also was at the party.) So it came as a surprise to some when House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who has pressured folks to hire Republican lobbyists, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) dropped by the festivities. Former House minority leader Bob Michel (Ill.), among many other Republicans, was also there.

But times have changed at D.C. lobby shops and Republicans are important members of Cassidy & Associates -- after all, Republicans have taken control of Congress and the administration. Gregg L. Hartley , a senior aide for 18 years to Blunt, is chief operating officer of the company.

Sheila Tate of Cassidy's Powell-Tate public relations shop and former press secretary to Nancy Reagan noted the GOP and Democratic revelers at the rooftop affair and said: "I don't think you can live in one [political] party. Tom DeLay was here for God's sake."

For the record, DeLay's spokesman said the majority leader did what he often does: "He dropped in quickly on his way to another event."

Another surprising drop-in, on the Democratic side, was Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. In 1989, Byrd was incensed that a West Virginia university had retained Cassidy & Associates to lobby for federal funds for a building project and canceled his support. He pushed through what became known as the "Byrd Amendment," which required folks getting a federal grant of more than $100,000 to disclose if they had hired a lobbyist.

When asked why he was at the party, Byrd barked: "I was invited, and I accepted. . . . I'm here because I'm here." So there.

Cassidy said: "We were friends before, and I thought we'd be friends afterward. He's a great man."

Cassidy Hires Duo

While they're not partying at Cassidy, they're hiring: Tom Dennis has signed on as senior vice president to build a new practice on energy and environment, and Vernon Simmons , recently retired from the Air Force, has enlisted as a senior associate in the defense group.

Dennis previously had his own company and earlier was vice president of Southern California Edison's D.C. office. Simmons was deputy chief of the Air Force's Congressional Budget and Appropriations Liaison Division.

Parsons to Lead Hill & Knowlton Office

Kelli Parsons , director of Hill & Knowlton USA 's Washington corporate practice, is stepping up to become general manager of the D.C. office, effective June 1.

She succeeds Gene Reineke , who will remain chief operating officer for the U.S. company and will take responsibility for the Chicago office.

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