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.

Her clients have included Compaq, Exxon, Lockheed Martin and Tyco, among others.

She came from Hill & Knowlton's Houston office in 2002 when her husband, Scott Parsons took a presidential appointment in Treasury.

Although Hill & Knowlton's D.C. office previously had a more active direct lobbying practice, in recent years "our focus in public affairs has been much more on the strategic communications side than on direct lobbying," Parsons said in an interview. The company still offers direct lobbying and partners with related lobby shops.

She said she will be reviewing the Washington office, noting the importance of a "strong public affairs presence in Washington," but "what shape that public affairs practice takes is uncertain now."

Leaving Treasury for the Private Sector

Greg Jenner , who was acting assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department and then nominated last year by President Bush to be assistant secretary, has decided to go private sector. He's joining the American Council of Life Insurers as executive vice president for taxes and retirement security June 1.

His nomination, not acted upon by Congress, expired and "he decided for a whole host of issues not to seek the nomination" this year, said ACLI spokesman Jack Dolan . Jenner earlier was a partner at the Venable law firm and tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.

Moving On . . .

Michael Torrey , a former deputy chief of staff at the Department of Agriculture, has gone into business for himself as Michael Torrey Associates . Torrey earlier worked for the International Dairy Foods Association and former GOP senators Nancy Kassebaum Baker and Robert Dole, both of Kansas.

Job searchers take note: Leslie Hortum has moved up to manager of the Washington office of the executive search firm Spencer Stuart . She has specialized in association and public policy executive recruiting.

Anthony Bedell , former associate administrator for congressional and legislative affairs of the Small Business Administration has signed up with Intuit Inc. as senior manager of corporate affairs for the software company's D.C. office.

Calling himself a member of the Daschle Diaspora, Chris Stenrud has settled down at GMMB as senior vice president, focusing on "policy communications" and public relations. Stenrud had run the Democratic Communications Committee in the Senate for then-Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.). GMMB does consulting for Daschle's successor, Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), among others as well as work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others.

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