After laying low for a couple of years, what with all that unpleasantness with former independent counsel Donald C. Smaltz, Tyson Foods Inc. has opened a new Washington office that is headed by veteran meat industry lobbyist Sara Lilygren. She was hired away from the American Meat Institute, where she was senior vice president for legislative and public affairs.

Archie Schaffer III, senior vice president of external relations for the giant Arkansas poultry company, noted that Tyson Foods acquired the nation's largest beef and pork company, IBP Inc., last year and both the meat and poultry industries face substantial federal government oversight. Schaffer said Tyson Foods is now the country's largest meat and poultry firm and has $23 billion in annual sales and 120,000 employees.

"The federal government touches our operations and business in many ways. We feel it's imperative to running our business to have a presence in Washington, to get our story told on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue," Schaffer said.

Joining Lilygren will be Nora Venegas, who worked for SBC Telecommunications Inc.'s Washington office and earlier served as executive assistant to the executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

"It's a great opportunity. [Tyson Foods] is a leader in the industry I've been working for for the last 18 years," Lilygren said.

She noted that the American Meat Institute also represents turkey companies.

"I have some familiarity with feathers," she said.

The last couple of years, the company has generally relied on trade associations for its lobbying in Washington. Earlier, it depended on lobbyist Jack Williams.

Caught up in the Smaltz probe into former Clinton agriculture secretary Mike Espy, Tyson Foods pleaded guilty in December 1997 to providing about $12,000 in illegal gifts to Espy, Williams was convicted of lying to investigators and Schaffer was convicted of providing an illegal gratuity to Espy. Schaffer's and Williams's convictions were thrown out and then reinstated. They were pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

Espy was acquitted of bribery charges.

Tax Specialists to Ernst & Young

Passing through the revolving door, three Treasury Department tax officials have joined Ernst & Young's National Tax Department: former tax legislative counsel Rob Hanson, former deputy international tax counsel Michael Mundaca and former senior tax specialist Christopher Ohmes. Hanson earlier served as tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee.

Ex-Lawmakers Register Clients

Speaking of revolving doors . . . Former members of the U.S. House have been busy filing to lobby on behalf of clients.

Bruce A. Morrison, a Connecticut Democrat who now runs the Morrison Public Affairs Group out of Bethesda, registered to lobby for Adecco, a staffing company, on immigration policy regarding temporary employees and certain labor standards.

Bud Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican, filed to lobby on behalf of the Association of American Railroads on transportation and tax issues.

And Harold E. Ford Sr., the Tennessee Democrat whose son, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., now represents Memphis, filed for the West Clinic, a community-based cancer clinic in Memphis.

Consumers Union Losing Torres?

The buzz around town is Frank Torres III, legislative counsel at Consumers Union, will be leaving to be director of consumer affairs at software giant Microsoft's office here. Torres, a specialist on banking and financial services, electronic commerce, consumer credit and mortgage lending policy, joined Consumers Union in 1997. Earlier, he was director of the governor of Guam's Washington liaison office.

Jack Krumholtz, director of federal government affairs and associate general counsel of Microsoft Corp., had no comment.

Leibach to Solo

Dale Leibach, managing director of Cassidy & Associates, part of the Weber Shandwick family of lobbying and communications firms, is leaving after the first of the year to set up his own public affairs shop.

He had returned in August 2001 from a stint at helping Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.), his former Carter White House colleague.

Leibach looks forward to a group of 10 to 15 people, but declines to say who will be joining him at first.

"The market is ripe for a small public affairs shop," Leibach said. "I'm off on a new adventure."

Phair Opens Shop

PhairCommunications is the new consulting shop of Judy Phair, former vice president for public affairs at the Council on Competitiveness. The company's focus is on education and nonprofit associations.

Turkeys Need Security, Too

A Thanksgiving note from PoliticalMoneyLine, the Web site of FECInfo and tray.com that tracks political money and lobbyists.

"While glancing through our lobby registration database, we thought for a moment that the turkeys had started to organize and lobby for their safety," PoliticalMoneyLine said on its site (www.fecinfo.com).

What it "found" was that the National Turkey Federation had reported spending $40,000 in the first six months of this year to lobby for the Farm Security Act.