That was quick. The White House announced Tuesday that President Bush's chief lobbyist, Nicholas E. Calio, will be leaving next month to return to the private lobbying biz. Yesterday, it became known where he will land.
Calio, assistant to the president for legislative affairs, will join Citigroup as senior vice president for global government affairs, responsible for overseeing federal, state and international government relations. He will be a member of Citigroup's management committee.
"He will be an exceptional advocate for Citigroup as we move forward," said Sandy Weill, chairman and chief executive of Citigroup. "We hope to make substantial contributions to ongoing debates on critical issues and matters related to business, our industry and the health of our global financial system. We look forward to Nick's leadership and assistance in both formulating strategy and communicating our perspectives to regulators and elected officials in the U.S. and throughout the world."
There is a year's prohibition on Calio lobbying the executive branch. But there's still the House and Senate, noted Calio, who also led the White House legislative affairs office during the first two years of Bush I.
While Calio wasn't ready to discuss the issues that he'd be involved in with Citigroup, not all of it will be pretty. Congressional investigators have been examining deals between Enron Corp. and Citigroup. A Citigroup executive said last week that Citigroup is a victim of Enron.
Jan. 10 is Calio's last day at the White House -- he wants to work his birthday there. He starts at Citigroup at the end of the month.
Bush praised Calio as "a valuable and trusted member of my administration since the day I took office."
Why not go back to his former partner, Democrat Lawrence O'Brien III, with whom he founded the successful O'Brien-Calio boutique? "I wanted to try something different," Calio said yesterday.
Calio's top deputy, Jack Howard, also announced his departure this week, though his timing and landing are not settled yet.
The White House is expected to announce soon Calio's successor, most likely David W. Hobbs, liaison to the House.
Brian C. Conklin also has left his post as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs and will be returning to the lobbying firm Washington Council Ernst & Young. At the White House, Conklin was a liaison to House members on health care, financial services and telecommunications, among other issues.
False Alarm Causes Buzz
There was a lot of buzz in September when Fleishman-Hillard reached "an agreement in principle" to acquire hot lobby shop Quinn Gillespie & Associates. The Omnicom-owned PR company had beaten out other suitors for the firm founded nearly three years ago by former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn and GOP insider Ed Gillespie.
Now Gillespie says, "It's not going to happen."
"The terms offered by Omnicom to us in September were not in the final offer," he said yesterday. He declined to specify the absent terms.
Omnicom officials did not return calls to comment last night.
No other offerings are in the offing, Gillespie said. "We terminated all other talks," he said, when the two companies reached their agreement in principle.
Meanwhile, the most recent issue of PR Week listed the Fleishman-Hillard acquisition as No. 9 in the top 10 "Business deals that caused a stir," after such events as Hewlett-Packard merging with Compaq and Pfizer buying Pharmacia. "Fleishman scored a major coup when it snatched up this Washington lobbying powerhouse in September," PR Week wrote.
"It's a little like Dewey Defeats Truman," Gillespie laughed.
Gonella Will Be Gone
Jan. 1 is a new year and Gonella Kaufman will have a new name -- Cornerstone Government Affairs. The lobbying, consulting and business operation was founded less than a year ago by Geoffrey Gonella and Campbell Kaufman. Gonella said they wanted a name that is "illustrative of what we want to do for our clients."
The lobby shop is also adding Fred Clark, previously counsel to the House Agriculture Committee and most recently a lobbyist at the PMA Group, and Steve Crane, earlier an aide to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md..) and most recently a lobbyist at Van Scoyoc Associates.
New Jobs for New Year
Also making moves after the first of the year . . . Susan Shafer, press secretary for departing Michigan Gov. John Engler, joins KSA-Plus Communications next month. KSA-Plus specializes in education issues.
Geoff Gleason, most recently appropriations associate to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va..), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary, is joining Russ Reid Co., where he'll specialize in lobbying on appropriations issues.
Clocking 23 years on the Hill, Gleason also served as chief of staff to former House Rules Committee chairman Jerry Solomon (R-N.Y.).
Kyra Howell, a government relations policy adviser at Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy, moves over to the Interactive Digital Software Association on Jan. 6 as legislative counsel. Earlier, she worked for the House Commerce telecommunications subcommittee and for Sen. Frank Lautenberg D-N.J.).