A high-stakes, post-election game of musical chairs is about to begin on K Street.
Cassidy & Associates Chief Operating Officer Gregg Hartley ate lunch Tuesday at Tosca in Chinatown with two prominent employment negotiators, Robert Barnett and Michael O’Conner, a source told Roll Call.
The two lawyers work at the law firm Williams & Connolly. Barnett “represents former government officials in conjunction with their transitions to the private sector” and has represented Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, while O’Conner “assists many individuals in the negotiation of employment agreements,” according to the firm’s website.
Hartley, who declined comment, is not yet talking about a possible move. Still, with his longtime Hill boss expected to win big next week, Hartley is no doubt taking inventory of his options. As a former chief of staff for Rep. Roy Blunt (R), who is expected to trounce Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) in Tuesday’s Show-Me State Senate contest, Hartley’s stock could soon rise dramatically.
“Right now, it’s like waiting for the inevitable. The firms and associations know what’s going to happen, and nothing is going to happen with hiring until after the election,” said Ivan Adler, a recruiter at the McCormick Group Inc. “But starting Nov. 3, it’s going to be ‘Katy, bar the door’ for both Members and staff alike.”
Like Hartley, there are scores of former Republican staffers downtown who are looking to Election Day as a long-awaited chance to either strike it rich or upgrade their place of employment, a former GOP House leadership aide said. Most are being a bit more subtle than the former top Blunt aide, the source said, but that could all change a week from now.
“It’s been nuclear winter for us for the past four years,” the Republican said. “In the last five days, I’ve gotten at least 10 e-mails from friends who say, ‘I know you’re hearing about things. Keep me in mind.’”
“The smartest people in town are keeping their heads down and saying nothing,” the source continued. “There will be other guys who will campaign, who will try to go to as many happy hours as they can, and those are the guys who never end up getting the job. They’re too overt, too in-your-face kind of guys.”
Another former House GOP staffer said many Republican contract lobbyists may stay put at their shops and use their party’s rising political fortunes to prospect for new business. That list could include lobbyists such as Sam Geduldig, who is a one-time staffer to would-be Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and Ron Bonjean, a former aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
Multiple sources interviewed for this article also said that veteran GOP messaging gurus and influence peddlers such as Lisa Miller, Rob Collins, Joe Wall, Brett Loper and John Russell are expected to field numerous offers in the coming weeks from Congressional leadership offices, K Street firms and trade associations.
Miller, a spokeswoman at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, is a former Congressional and Republican National Committee staffer who also once worked for the Commerce Department. American Action Network President Rob Collins was profiled this week by the Washington Post and is an ex-aide to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
Wall, now a Goldman Sachs lobbyist, previously worked for Blunt and was then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s deputy assistant for legislative affairs, according to Senate lobbying records. Loper is a lobbyist with the Advanced Medical Technology Association and was an aide to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Russell also worked for Hastert and is now a registered lobbyist downtown.
Open for Business
But apparently not everyone is waiting until next week to formally begin the process.
On Tuesday night, former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) announced that she was leaving the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani to start Susan Molinari Strategies, which will focus on “direct lobbying and message development,” as well as “corporate social responsibility and corporate diversity initiatives.”
Molinari was unavailable for comment Wednesday to discuss her new venture, but she issued a statement Tuesday outlining her goals.
“Over the past decade, I’ve provided personalized and effective federal advocacy and message development on behalf of hundreds of interests, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to trade groups to governments,” Molinari said in the statement. “My priority is personalized, hands-on assistance to clients who require in depth solutions to their federal relations challenges.”