The lobbying business during the Bush administration has been good to Loeffler Jonas & Tuggey, the law firm founded by Tom Loeffler, a former Republican member of the House from Texas.

Loeffler, a major fundraiser for President Bush, is expanding his firm. The first big addition will be Julie Domenick, executive vice president of the Investment Company Institute, which represents the mutual fund industry and has been a longtime client of the firm. She will oversee the D.C. office.

A Democrat, Domenick was the subject of a move by Rep. Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) last year to pressure the ICI to replace her with a Republican. Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, got a Republican hired there, but ICI did not oust Domenick.

Julian Read, a spokesman for Loeffler, said Domenick's Democratic background did not come into play for the former congressman. "He knows of her skills and experience," Read said, adding "there's still lot of R's" among the new folks hired for the firm.

The other additions to Loeffler Jonas are: Dallas "Rob" Sweezy, director of public and intergovernmental affairs for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Bush administration; Joseph N. Mondello, legislative director for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) ; and Kristen Palasciano Gullott, most recently a policy adviser at the Energy Department's Office of Fossil Energy and earlier an aide to Karl Rove for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign.

That Was Then

When it was announced last week that Bell Helicopter chairman emeritus John Murphey was named chief executive of a joint venture with two foreign companies to compete for replacing the fleet of Marine One helicopters, which carry the president, some D.C. folks went scurrying to their copies of Murphey's testimony last year before the House Armed Services Committee:

"The Europeans are coming to America with their products: products developed with substantial government funding," Murphey said as part of his testimony on the U.S. rotorcraft industrial base. "They are seeking U.S. partners to produce the products in the U.S. and they will find them. But European products manufactured in the U.S. do not do anything to develop or enhance our nation's capability in the engineering and manufacturing technologies that are so important to sustained viability in this industry. Are we headed to a point where U.S. manufacturers could simply be assembly subcontractors to European firms that develop and own the technology that was funded by European governments?"

That was March 12, 2003. Now he is chief executive of AgustaWestlandBell, a joint venture of Bell, Italy's Finmeccanica and the United Kingdom's GKN. According to a release, Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and responsible for systems integration, while the joint venture would be the licensee of its US101 helicopter program's intellectual property and have overall responsibility for the vehicle design and support. The helicopters would be manufactured and assembled by Bell.

The joint venture is battling it out with Sikorsky Aircraft for the $1.6 billion project to replace the fleet. Both are playing up their American pedigrees, with Sikorsky dumping its foreign suppliers for its entry, the VH-92 helicopter.

So is Murphey just a pretty American face of the joint venture? He says no. The joint venture will be bringing "high-paying jobs and technology out of Europe to the United States," he said in an interview yesterday, adding, "We bring an incredible amount of ability" to the joint venture.

Murphey said what he was telling Congress last year was that the federal government needs to restore research and development funding for the industry, especially since foreign governments are investing in their helicopter industries.

Sikorsky's program director, Nick Lappos, said the Sikorsky folks "certainly back his view before Congress."

Shoe-Leather Lobbyist

The National Group was founded about three years ago by Cassidy & Associates veterans and just reeled in another one -- Matthew J. Trant.

Trant doesn't bring clients with him, but he does bring substantial GOP credentials to the shop, which is mostly Democratic.

A Massachusetts Republican, Trant worked for the late Rep. Silvio Conte (R-Mass.). Trant served at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during the earlier Bush administration, where he worked for Kathy Card. He then moved to the Department of Transportation to work for her husband, Andrew H. Card Jr., now chief of staff to President Bush.

Trant said Massachusetts Republicans in Washington are "a fiercely loyal band." National Group's Vincent Versage and Frank Godfrey may be Democrats, but Trant said they're both "close friends of long standing." Versage said in a statement that Trant is "a burn the shoe leather type lobbyist. . . . And he has the great Republican credentials we were looking for as well."

Over at Cassidy, the firm is picking up Jaclyn Madden, legislative director for Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), next month.

Other Moves

Furthermore . . . former agriculture secretary John R. Block has joined Olsson, Frank and Weeda, a food, drugs and agriculture law boutique as a senior government adviser. Also signing on: Sally Donner, director of government affairs for the Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and Kraft Foods Inc.; and Brian Johnson, president of a Des Moines company.

Financial Dynamics, a business communications firm, has lured Hill and Knowlton's Neil Dhillon to head the public affairs practice in its new D.C. office. He'd earlier worked for the Transportation Department and Rep. Robert T. Matsui (D-Calif.).