NEW POWERHOUSE ON K STREET?

Lott-Breaux Partnership Is Possible

If Trent Lott, left, and John Breaux form a partnership, some lobbyists privately say it would attract a large number of corporate clients.
If Trent Lott, left, and John Breaux form a partnership, some lobbyists privately say it would attract a large number of corporate clients. "It's a possibility," Lott said. "We've joked for years we were going to do something like this." (By Ray Lustig -- The Washington Post)

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By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Former senator John Breaux announced yesterday that he is leaving the law firm Patton Boggs to form his own lobbying group, fueling speculation that he might join with soon-to-retire senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.), his longtime friend, to create a new K Street powerhouse.

In an interview, Lott said that he would consider such a partnership, which several lobbyists privately acknowledged would quickly attract a large number of corporate clients. In a separate interview, Breaux said that he wanted Lott as a partner.

"It's a possibility," Lott said. "We've joked for years we were going to do something like this."

"I'd love to have [Lott] as part of my small group," Breaux added.

But Lott said he has not decided what to do when he leaves the Senate later this year. He is, however, considering going into lobbying. If he does so, he would be the first senator to resign his office in the middle of his term to lobby.

Breaux said in a statement yesterday that he planned to form his own public policy consulting firm in January. For nearly three years -- since he retired from the Senate -- he has been working as lobbyist and strategist at Patton Boggs, Washington's largest lobby-law firm. He said he would go into business with his son, John Breaux Jr., who has lobbied in Washington for years.

Tom Boggs, the veteran lobbyist and fellow Louisianan who heads Patton Boggs, said he hopes that Breaux will continue to work with his firm. "While I will miss having John here every day," Boggs said, "we are also discussing how John can remain as counsel to the firm."

Breaux, a Democrat from Louisiana, has been active in many of Washington's highest-profile legislative fights, representing such major industries as oil and pharmaceuticals. His reputation as a dealmaker who could work with both Democrats and Republicans has made him one of corporate America's most sought-after former lawmakers on K Street.

Lott, 66, would carry similar appeal, lobbyists say. People familiar with his situation say he has been deluged with offers and suggestions about what to do after he leaves office. But Lott said he has not made any decisions about his future.

One possibility that drew widespread speculation in downtown D.C. yesterday was that Breaux and Lott could create a father-son business. Lott's son Chester, like Breaux's son, has been a lobbyist, and the families are known to be close. Breaux once told reporters that he and Lott took their sons to a Kiss concert years ago.

"I've been talking to a lot of people, and they all say the main thing is take your time, don't take the first thing that comes through the transom, see what you really want to do," Lott said. "And the truth of the matter is, I don't know."

Lott made clear that he was open to working with Breaux in the private sector. "John Breaux and I have been friends for 39 or 40 years. We were both staff members in the House in the '60s. In the '70s and '80s, we lived across the street from each other. Our children played together. They were at each other's weddings," Lott said.

He added: "A bipartisan firm could be fun."

But he also noted that Senate rules severely restrict how much he can talk about his plans with anyone, and, as a result, he has not been in any serious talks. He noted that "two of my best friends" -- former senators Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.) -- also are lobbying at the law firm King and Spalding. He added that he has spoken to former senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who is now at Alston & Bird.

"You're limited on what you can do until you leave," Lott said. "I don't know all the things I want to do."

washingtonpost.com staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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