Aug. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Ex-Rep. Russo, 12 Employees Out in Cassidy Shake-Up

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Cassidy & Associates founder Gerry Cassidy laid off 12 employees this week and gave former Rep. Marty Russo a buyout package as part of a makeover at his firm.

Bowing to financial pressures and a changing political tide, K Street earmarking trailblazer Gerald Cassidy laid off nearly 20 percent of his staff on Wednesday and announced plans to remake his decades-old lobbying shop.

“We’re going through a restructuring,” the Cassidy & Associates founder told Roll Call on Wednesday. “We’ve been here 35 years, so I’ve done this a few times. Sometimes you need to reduce staff to increase staff, so we’re trying to bring up a war chest so we can bring in new people.”

In addition to the layoffs, Cassidy said that former Rep. Marty Russo (D-Ill.), who was the shop’s CEO, is taking a buyout. Other details of the restructuring were unavailable as of press time, but Cassidy said the layoffs, which were first reported by Roll Call, will accelerate a shift away from the appropriations-based lobbying that he is widely credited with pioneering more than 30 years ago.

He confirmed that a dozen employees were fired Wednesday, including eight lobbyists and four administrative support staffers. The firm had 70 employees before the layoffs.

For now, Cassidy said he will temporarily handle the day-to-day executive duties of his eponymous firm, replacing Russo. The former Member has not announced what he will do next.

“We’re not going to fill that position,” Cassidy, 70, said. “I’m going to take over a lot of those duties.”

Russo, a play-by-play announcer for Roll Call’s annual Congressional baseball game, is considered a confidant to outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Cassidy said Wednesday that there is no correlation between Pelosi’s recent demotion and Russo’s sudden departure.

“Marty is one of the best-liked and most-respected people in Washington,” Cassidy said. “His relationships go very deep in the House.”

Cassidy, a Democrat, declined to name the laid-off staffers or give their party affiliations, but he confirmed that those who were not laid off included Chief Operating Officer Gregg Hartley, Executive Vice President Kai Anderson and members of Barry Rhoads’ Rhoads Group, which recently merged into Cassidy & Associates.

Cassidy said he plans to replace his laid-off employees with policy-based lobbyists who specialize in financial services, environmental and health care issues.

Nonappropriations work at Cassidy & Associates now makes up about 60 percent of the firm’s revenue. Cassidy said he expects that figure to increase in the coming years as Members have pledged to ban many earmarks.

“I’d like to raise the number of policy clients we have,” Cassidy said. “We took a tangible step into integrating Barry Rhoads, and we will be hiring people.”

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