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K Street Files: Knott Out; Maxfield's Duties Expand

Correction Appended

With the election less than a week away, the shuffling of corporate legislative affairs teams toward a more Democratic hue has already started.

The most recent GOP fatality: Comcast Corp.’s Kerry Knott.

Knott, the former chief of staff to then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), has headed up Comcast’s Washington, D.C., operation since 2003.

David Cohen, Comcast’s executive vice president, cited “budget constraints and new challenges” as the reason for the staff shake-up, according to a company release.

Melissa Maxfield, who heads up Congressional affairs, will now run executive branch lobbying, as well. Maxfield joined Comcast in 2003 after serving as director for former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle’s (S.D.) political action committee, the Dedicated Americans for the Senate and the House PAC.

Knott, in an e-mail, said he will be setting up his own shop in January and has already secured his first client, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

He isn’t the first Comcast Republican to head for the doors.

Brian Kelly, former senior vice president for global government relations and communications for the Electronics Industries Association, left Comcast in February to start his own shop, Brian Kelly Strategies.

Kelly, who also worked as an in-house lobbyist at the Walt Disney Co. and National Association of Broadcasters, continues to lobby on behalf of Comcast as an outside consultant.

Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said the organizational review didn’t include outside consultants.

Yet that could be just a matter of time.

“With every election there is a review of your roster of consultants,” Fitzmaurice said.

Comcast has 22 outside lobby shops on retainer and has spent nearly $5 million on outside lobbyists in the first nine months of 2008, according to Senate records. Among its best-paid outside lobbying firms are Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, the Duberstein Group, the C2 Group and Mitch Rose Strategic Consulting.

K Street Moves. The Livingston Group has scored Mark Lindsay, a former White House senior adviser to President Bill Clinton. Lindsay, who most recently worked at UnitedHealth Group Inc., will join the firm’s health care and pharmaceuticals, international relations/business development, and financial service and tax practices.

Submit K Street Files tips here.

Correction: Nov. 7, 2008

The article misstated Comcast Corp.’s Melissa Maxfield’s new duties. She is expanding her brief to include the executive branch; she is not heading the D.C. office.

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