Looking for a high-profile name for CEO, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers was rebuffed a couple of years ago by then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, who was persuaded to stay in the Bush administration until the end of the first term. So, the group appointed retired trade association executive Frederick L. Webber as the acting chief executive in January 2004 and kept looking.
The alliance -- whose members include the BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen -- has finally named a new CEO -- Fred Webber.
"During that search period, the members realized" that the qualities they were looking for were present in Webber, said alliance Vice President Gloria Bergquist. "He's right here and he's the right person."
He clearly has experience in the trade association world. Webber retired as CEO of the American Chemistry Council in late 2002. Earlier, he served as chief executive of the U.S. League of Savings Institutions, president of the National Soft Drink Association, executive vice president of the Edison Electric Institute and in posts at the Scott Paper Co. and National Forest Products Association.
Webber also worked in legislative posts in the Nixon and Ford administrations at Treasury, the White House and the Labor Department.
"So much for retirement," Webber said yesterday.
"The automobile industry is the economy. To represent such an industry is a thrill," he said.
The big legislative focus now, he said, is on the energy and highway bills.
New Lobby Firm Joins the Fray
John Guzik, Omar Nashashibi and Pete Rose have bolted Williams Mullen Strategies and formed their own lobby and consulting shop, the Franklin Partnership.
Guzik earlier was chief of staff to Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and deputy executive director of the National Republican Campaign Committee. Nashashibi worked at the Office of Management and Budget and the Institute for Public Accuracy. Rose was legislative director for Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.) and former House member Pete Geren (D-Tex.).
The Franklin folks are also "partnered" with the law and lobbying firm of Oldaker, Biden and Belair.
"We were very entrepreneurial," Guzik said. "Our clients came to us because of who we were."
Among the firm's clients: the city of Fort Worth; the Shinnecock Indian Nation; Source One Distributors, a military hardware supplier; and Precision Metalforming Association.
Mark Robertson, president of Williams Mullen Strategies, noted there are folks also joining the lobby shop. Joy Lombard has signed on as vice president for state government affairs. Previously, she was director of policy for the Virginia Association of Health Plans and government relations manager for the American Cancer Society of Virginia. Thomas P. Cassidy, who ran the D.C. law office of New Jersey's Nowell Amoroso Klein & Bierman, has joined as vice president, focusing on financial services and health care issues.
Changes at the National Mining Association
Leaving . . . John E. Shelk, senior vice president for government affairs at the National Mining Association, is leaving for the Electric Power Supply Association, which has named him chief executive. Earlier, he was Republican counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Arriving . . . Craig Montesano has left the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where he was a congressional affairs specialist, for the National Mining Association, where he is director of government affairs for energy and environment issues.
Comings and Goings
Also moving around about town . . . Jennifer Grodsky, former legislative director for Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-Calif.), has left the Hill to head the new federal relations office in Washington of the University of Southern California. She graduated from USC in 1997, majoring in political science and psychology.
Deborah J. Vagins, previously acting deputy general counsel for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has joined the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union as policy counsel for civil rights and civil liberties.
Her work at the ACLU will cover such issues as religious liberty, free speech, voting rights and an independent judiciary, among others.
Matt Gobush has left Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) for Exxon Mobil, where he is manager for executive communications. Earlier, he served as communications director for the Democratic staff of the House International Relations Committee and as national security spokesman and speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign.
Glenn S. Ruskin is joining the American Chemical Society as director of its office of legislative and government affairs. Most recently, he was vice president for public affairs for Solutia Inc. and earlier worked for Ciba-Geigy Corp.
The Lupus Foundation of America brought on board Pricilla Chatman as vice president for public policy and government relations. Chatman previously was director of government relations and policy for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
Milo Cividanes, formerly a partner at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, has joined Venable as a partner, specializing in privacy regulations, counseling, lobbying and litigation. Earlier, he worked on the staff of the Senate subcommittee on technology and law.