Lanny Davis's new hire changes her mind

By Amanda Becker
Monday, January 31, 2011

The founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has decided she will stay at the nonprofit group instead of joining the private sector.

In November, lobbyist and lawyer Lanny J. Davis announced with fanfare that CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan would be joining his fledgling namesake shop Lanny J. Davis & Associates at the beginning of the year, in part to deal with an anticipated onslaught of congressional investigations into the Obama administration. But when the time came to make the switch, Sloan changed her mind, announcing on the organization's blog that she would remain with the ethics organization.

"Melanie was conflicted from the very first day I talked to her about leaving CREW. She finally decided that this was the wrong time for her to make a change. I knew from the first time that we talked that it was like giving up her own creation," Davis said.

Sloan declined to comment on her decision, but Davis said it had nothing to do with the media scrutiny following his recent work with Ivory Coast politician Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down after losing an election as the country devolved into violence.

"Given my work, there'd always be something," Davis said of the timing.

Davis also says the nature of his work with Gbagbo has been mischaracterized, emphasizing he was not hired to lobby for the Ivory Coast strongman, as was depicted in various media reports. At the time, Davis says he could not discuss the details of the arrangement, which involved the Cote d'Ivoire Embassy here retaining Davis's services to broker a phone call between Gbagbo and President Obama with the approval of the State Department. After 10 days passed without being able to reach Gbagbo, Davis resigned, returning half of the $300,000 he had been paid to an escrow account.

"I have reached the conclusion that I have not been allowed to effectuate the mission that I was expressly asked to do by your government, despite all my best efforts to do so . . . I therefore cannot in conscience continue to represent your government," Davis wrote in his Dec. 29 letter of resignation to Ivory Coast Ambassador Charles Koffee.

Tauzin lands at Alston & Bird

Former representative and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America head Billy Tauzin (R-La.) has joined the law firm Alston & Bird.

The former lawmaker will be part of the firm's legislative and public policy practice, joining former presidential candidate and senator Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and outgoing representative Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), another recent addition at Alston & Bird.

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