That’s the term presumptive Speaker John Boehner’s downtown allies use to describe themselves, a loose collection of two dozen or so former aides, contract lobbyists and corporate consultants who have grown close to him during his 10 terms in Congress.
A prodigious fundraiser, Boehner has long nurtured his relationships on K Street, where the Ohio Republican’s pro-business, small-government platform was a natural fit with large corporations and small-business groups alike.
And with expected fights over taxes, trade pacts and government spending expected in the new Congress, the likely Speaker will be checking the pulse of the business community through his friends, and vice versa.
Republican sources interviewed for this story also described his K Street inner circle as chummy, with conversations more about politics than policy and a healthy dash of good-natured ribbing.
“It’s loyalty. It’s friendship. It’s alumni,” a Republican source said. “He can count on us.”
Altria’s Bruce Gates, whose wife, Joyce, was once Boehner’s chief of staff, is near the top of that list, as is Marc Lampkin, a one-time lawyer for the presumptive Speaker. Lampkin is a lobbyist at Quinn Gillespie & Associates.
Dutko Worldwide lobbyist Gary Andres is also considered particularly close to Boehner, as is HDMK lobbyist Terry Holt.
Reynolds American Inc. lobbyist John Fish, Boehner’s former legislative director, is seen as a close Boehner confidant. Robert Schellhas, a banking lobbyist with Citigroup Management Corp., ran Boehner’s political action committee more than a decade ago and was a top aide to another big winner Tuesday night: Sen.-elect Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
Sam Geduldig, a partner at the lobbying firm Clark, Lytle & Geduldig, is a former Boehner fundraising aide. His colleague, Steve Clark, is also considered close with the GOP’s House leader, as is Brian Gaston, a former Boehner policy director now at Glover Park Group.
“A lot of these guys were with him back in the early years,” a K Street Republican source said.
Tyson Redpath did two stints in Boehner’s office going back a decade and is a lobbyist at the Virginia-based firm Russell & Barron Inc. Longtime AT&T hand Tim McKone is close to both Boehner and former House GOP Whip and Sen.-elect Roy Blunt (Mo.).
Boston Scientific Corp. lobbyist Brenda Becker, who also worked for ex-Commerce Secretary Don Evans, is considered a close Boehner ally downtown, as is Verisign’s Shannon Tews, William & Jensen’s Rebecca Anderson and Dan Meyer, a one-time chief of staff for then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Meyer is a lobbyist at the Duberstein Group.
Veteran Republican lobbyists Mark Isakowitz, Drew Maloney, Nick Calio and Dirk Van Dongen also have close relationships with the presumed Speaker. Isakowitz is the president of Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock, and Maloney is the managing director at Ogilvy Government Relations. Calio runs Citi’s Washington office, while Van Dongen — a top outside adviser to President George W. Bush — is president of National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.
Expect this group to grow in the next year, downtown Republican sources told Roll Call this week.