With the SBC acquisition of AT&T all but tied up with telephone wire, the lobbying operation of the merged company is taking shape.
Last month, it was announced that James Cicconi, who was AT&T Corp.'s general counsel and the bane of SBC Communications Inc. on Capitol Hill, would become senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, making him responsible for managing the merged company's public policy operation. (The expanded company has taken on the name of the venerable AT&T, but for the sake of clarity here, let's give the players their old monikers.)
Cicconi was a major player in the White Houses of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as a former lobbyist at the law and lobby firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP. At AT&T, he was credited with turning the phone company's lobby operation into a real force in Washington.
Now, the buzz is that Tim McKone, senior vice president for federal relations at SBC, will be executive vice president for federal relations, overseeing lobbying efforts on the Hill and with the administration for the merged company, AT&T Inc. McKone, who was director of congressional relations for Republican Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign and a fundraiser for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), will report to Cicconi.
A senior GOP industry lobbyist said McKone's new position is "a relief" to industry folks who feared he might leave amid a corporate shakeup. "He's a valuable asset for those working on telecom reform. . . . He's honest. He actually knows the stuff," this lobbyist said.
And while McKone is "a good Republican," he apparently has good relations with Democrats on the Hill.
Also buzzing about: SBC's Dorothy T. Attwood, who was an aide to then-FCC chairmen Michael K. Powell (R) and William E. Kennard (D), will be senior vice president for regulatory policy and planning. James C. Smith, who handles FCC advocacy will be retiring and succeeded at the merged shop by Robert Quinn, who was with the old AT&T. Quinn will be a senior vice president. Attwood and Quinn will report to Cicconi.
Former Starr Spokesman Joins Edelman
Charles Bakaly, the counselor and spokesman for Kenneth W. Starr during the Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations, is joining Edelman, the public relations giant, to help clients steer through what he calls "the rocky intersection of litigation and public opinion."
"He knows how to get results in external environments involving the law, media and politics," said Neal Flieger, general manager of Edelman's Washington office.
Bakaly has personal experience in that "rocky intersection." During the Whitewater inquiry, he was charged with misleading a judge about leaks from the investigation, but he was eventually acquitted of criminal contempt of court.
"I've sat in that chair. I've prevailed. I managed my own crisis," Bakaly said.
At Edelman, he will lead the litigation communications practice as a senior counselor and helping develop and manage communications strategies to save clients' reputations.
He said Edelman pioneered litigation communications and working there will give him "a national platform." It's also a bit of a homecoming: One of the senior Edelman executives is Michael K. Deaver, whom he worked with in the Reagan administration.
Former Editor Takes Qorvis Job
When Chuck Conconi left Washingtonian as editor-at-large a couple of months ago, people were offering big bucks for his Rolodex. The man knows just about everybody in town -- after 14 years at the magazine and 13 years at The Washington Post, as well as after working for the Washington Star and then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), to say nothing of having a regular table at the Palm.
Qorvis Communications LLC, whose strategic partner and investor is lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs LLP, is going to put Conconi to work as a senior counselor, assisting clients in corporate reputation, crisis management, individual and corporate "positioning," and media training.
"There are few people in town who know more people than Chuck," says Michael Petruzzello, Qorvis managing partner.
Chamber Announces Departure and Arrivals
Kate Sullivan Hare, the U.S. Chamber Commerce's executive director of health care policy, is leaving the business group this week for the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where she will be director of health care policy.
"I like to shop," she said, apparently half-joking.
Sullivan Hare will be lobbying on health care -- what has been a contentious issue for Wal-Mart -- as well as helping the company participate in the efforts of other employers and unions to make health care services more affordable in the absence of much congressional action on the matter.
"It's the biggest company, and they do have health care challenges," Sullivan Hare said.
Going in the other direction at the chamber, Nicole Venable is joining as director of congressional and public affairs for international trade and global competitiveness. Most recently, she was chief of staff to Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.).
Also joining the chamber is Stephanie Polis, as director of congressional and public affairs for retirement security, immigration and homeland security. Previously, she was public liaison for the Labor Department, working with the business community, associations and coalitions. Polis also served as director of outreach for the House Budget Committee.