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Google Bolsters Its Washington Presence

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Google, which along with other Internet companies is battling the telephone and cable giants over "network neutrality," is doubling the size of its Washington lobby staff.

From one to two.

Yet, it's a big hire for Google Inc. Jamie E. Brown , a special assistant to President Bush for legislative affairs, will join the company next month as federal relations counsel. She'll be working with Alan B. Davidson , head of the office, a Democrat, and previously associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a public policy nonprofit that supports access to the Internet, privacy rights and free expression.

The company does have a couple of junior support people in the D.C. office and some outside lobbyists. Jon Murchinson , a spokesman for Google, said the company plans to build its Washington office but has no specific number in mind.

Although the lobby-biz chatter is that Google needs to add some Republican firepower in town, Murchison wouldn't talk partisan politics.

"We hired her because she's going to be an asset" to our users, he said. "Jamie has a track record of success in guiding important and complicated issues through the legislative process, and she will be a strong advocate on behalf of Google and our users."

Ed Gillespie , the Republican of Quinn Gillespie & Associates , worked closely with Brown on the Senate confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. She participated in mock hearings to prepare them and walked the Capitol halls with them.

"She is one of the smartest, most energetic people I've ever worked with," Gillespie said. "She will be a huge asset to Google at a time when they need some help on the Republican side."

On "network neutrality," Google, Amazon.com Inc., Yahoo Inc. and others are fighting Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and other broadband behemoths over access to new fiber-optic networks. Other issues that Google cares about on the Hill involve copyright laws, privacy and foreign trade.

Brown said in a statement: "I have been incredibly honored to be able to serve the president in the White House, but I am thrilled about this opportunity to join the excellent team at Google. This is an extraordinarily exciting and important time for the Internet industry, with many policy questions being debated and decided for the very first time."

Bush Veteran Moves On

Speaking of veterans of the Bush administration . . . Kelley Gannon , who traipsed around the world doing press advance for both Presidents Bush and more recently worked for the chain-drugstore folks, has joined Fleishman-Hillard as a senior vice president in the firm's public affairs practice.

Gannon had been vice president of communications at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores since 2003. She said her move to Fleishman was unrelated to the shake-up at NACDS; her boss there, Craig L. Fuller , resigned last month.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I felt like I needed a new phase in my life," Gannon said.

She will be providing "strategic counsel" and perhaps some lobbying, depending on client needs. "I'm just happy to fill a client's need, be it communications or lobbying," Gannon said.

Lawyer Joins Southwest Airlines

As Karen Judd Lewis nicked from her new employer's slogan, she "is free to move about the country." Lewis, a former partner at the law and lobby firm of Williams & Jensen , recently joined Dallas-based Southwest Airlines as senior director for governmental affairs.

Lewis says she likes the company's "values," its team approach and even the sometimes lame sense of humor of its crews, which she says she shares. One of her big priorities will be to fight for the repeal of the "Wright Amendment" -- named for then-House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) -- which restricts operations at Dallas Love Field.

Career Moves

In other moves about town . . . Kristi Kennedy , until recently legislative director for Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.), has joined Bryan Cave Strategies ' strategic corporate consulting practice.

Dan Cohen , has left Inamed Corp., a medical device manufacturing company, and joined US Oncology Inc. He has opened a D.C. office for the nationwide cancer treatment and research network. The company said the office will allow it to "play a more active role in the day-to-day Capitol Hill activities and regulatory policy development in key agencies that are critical to national cancer policy." A former Hill staffer, Cohen had also worked at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Patrick Brady has joined Widmeyer Communications as a vice president working with the shop's health-care and public affairs clients. He previously worked for Spectrum Science Communications and was executive director of Citizens for Long Term Care, a coalition of national and local health-care providers, advocates, insurers and others.

Widmeyer recently signed up several new clients, including the American Foundation for the Blind, Pfizer Inc. and the American Society of Gene Therapy.

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