The job market on K Street looks a lot like the rest of the country’s employment situation. It’s tough.
That is, unless you were chief of staff to the incoming Senate Finance chairman — in which case, who wouldn’t want to hire you?
Josh Kardon, who logged 17 years with Sen. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat poised to take the Finance gavel, has a new gig as general counsel of Capitol Counsel, a bipartisan firm with deep ties to the current chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. Baucus, of course, plans to head to China soon, as President Barack Obama tapped him last month to be his top envoy there. That has opened up the chairmanship of one of the most plum committees in Congress.
Most recently, Kardon was a lobbyist with the Capitol Hill Consulting Group, where his registered clients last year included Exxon Mobil, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Open Space Institute, according to Lobbying Disclosure Act filings.
Capitol Counsel focuses on tax, health care and trade policy, among other issues, all high-profile matters under the Finance Committee’s jurisdiction. Having a Wyden guy — a rarity on K Street — certainly won’t hurt business.
“Josh Kardon is well known as one of the most seasoned veterans of Capitol Hill,” said former Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., a partner at Capitol Counsel. “His experience working with key committees and policymakers on both sides of the Capitol will be a great asset to our clients.”
Baucus, a six-term member, has such an extensive network of former aides working on K Street that it has come to be known colloquially as Baucus Land. While Wyden's former aides and allies are not on that scale, Kardon's hire could conceivably be the beginning of Wyden World.
Kardon spent 21 years on Capitol Hill, 17 of them with Wyden. He also ran campaigns for Wyden and Oregon Govs. John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski.
His résumé includes legislative work for then-Rep., now-Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and a stint chairing the 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton for president effort in Oregon.
“Josh’s track record of success on Capitol Hill in both legislative issues and elections will make him an invaluable asset to our clients,” said John D. Raffaelli, Capitol Counsel’s founder. “As 2014 begins, we look forward to utilizing his skills and expertise to help our clients traverse the continually changing political landscape in Washington, D.C.”
Kardon said he picked Capitol Counsel because its policy areas overlapped with those he’s worked on before and that he’s known some of the firm’s lobbyists for decades.
“They are deep across a lot of the issues where I have familiarity: taxation and health to energy and trade,” he said. “I have watched Capitol Counsel grow into a top 10 firm in D.C., and I knew they achieved that success by offering their clients a uniquely deep and talented, bipartisan team. I am thrilled to join the Capitol Counsel team, and look forward to helping their clients with a variety of legislative challenges.”
Wyden, who currently chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is slated to take over the Finance chairmanship once Baucus is confirmed as ambassador to China.