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GOP Lobbyists Field Offers to Return to Hill

File Photo
Kathryn Lehman, now a lobbyist with Holland & Knight, shown here with then-White House Congressional liaison Nick Calio, is one of several K Streeters who could return to the Congressional payroll next year when the GOP takes control of the House.

When staff hiring decisions for the new majority begin in earnest next month, House Republican leaders are expected to enlist veteran K Street hands to oversee the legions of green GOP aides who will soon fill Congressional committee and leadership offices.

“Some of these jobs need people with experience and a little gray hair, people who aren’t learning it as they go,” a former House Republican leadership aide told Roll Call last week.

For now, the office of Republican transition team Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) is maintaining a database of potential staffers for incoming freshmen and other vacant rank-and-file Republican jobs. Just before Election Day, House Republicans assembled a list of about 75 possible aides for consideration by incoming Members.

“They’re really not there yet,” a House Republican aide said of the numerous hiring decisions facing the incoming Republican leadership. “A lot of résumés are coming in. A lot of top people who have a lot of experience in the administration, Republican leadership and on the committees are looking to come back.”

Sources said there should be no shortage of openings — or applicants — for mid-level House jobs. But newly elected House Republican leaders will need to give the hard sell to high-level lobbyists whom they are attempting to woo for top committee, policy and leadership positions, such as chief of staff for presumptive Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).

Taking a Pay Cut

The biggest consideration? A $172,500 cap on staffer salaries that may have many well-paid lobbyists thinking twice about the predictably long hours, lack of expense accounts and no stock options.

Republican sources interviewed for this article speculated that Time Warner lobbyist Tim Berry is expected to be courted heavily to return to Capitol Hill to head McCarthy’s leadership office or for another top job.

A former chief of staff to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas), Berry joined the media giant in 2005 after a decade in DeLay’s office. He also worked in the office of then-Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.) for two years before being hired by the former suburban Houston-area lawmaker in 1995.

Berry’s successor in DeLay’s office, Brett Loper, may also be headed back to the Hill. An Advanced Medical Technology Association lobbyist, Loper was a chief of staff for then-Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.).

Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock lobbyist Mike Chappell is also expected to be recruited by Republican leadership for another tour on the House side. According to his official biography, Chappell was a deputy chief of staff for then-Reps. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and he was on then-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm’s 1996 presidential campaign.

Holland & Knight lobbyist Kathryn Lehman could also soon embark on her latest tour on Capitol Hill. A former DeLay staffer, Lehman has also worked for Energy Independence and Global Warming ranking member Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.) and former House leaders Dennis Hastert (Ill.), Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and Deborah Pryce (Ohio).

Looking for Diversity

Bringing on Lehman would help stave off an expected dearth of top female talent in the incoming House majority.

“She’s somebody who could definitely come back,” a downtown GOP source said.

GOP leaders may also try to persuade Sanofi-Aventis lobbyist Sally Canfield to return to Capitol Hill. In addition to working for McCrery, she was also a Hastert leadership aide and has done political work for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, including as the domestic policy adviser for his Commonwealth political action committee.

Former House Republican Conference aide Seth Webb is also expected to be a recruit for top leadership jobs. A lobbyist at Google, Webb was also a GOP staff director on the House Rules Committee.

Another former GOP aide interviewed for this article predicted that it could be a month or more before leadership offices begin reaching out to the lobbying community to staff top jobs.

“There’s a lot of time,” the source said. “The committees don’t even have chairmen until the middle of December. They’re obviously not going to be hiring staff directors or counsels until they’ve won their chairmanship.”

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