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K Street Files: Ogilvy Teams Up With Tax Lobby GDS

In an effort to rebuild after losing some of its top rainmakers earlier this year, Ogilvy Government Relations has inked a strategic alliance with the boutique tax lobby GDS Strategies.

Although the terms of the deal are confidential, the two shops will share office space and some clients and administrative functions, according to Ogilvy President Gordon Taylor. GDS’ three principals will not become employees of Ogilvy and their shop will keep its name and independence from WPP, Ogilvy’s parent company.

“Despite the suggestions by folks around town that we were a ship that was sinking, we have righted ourselves and are going to grow back and are very bullish and optimistic about our future,” Taylor said. “We’ve been through a restructuring, and in growing back the firm, we are making sure we have the talent we need going into the next Congress.”

The affiliation signals that Ogilvy will carry on and signals that K Street expects tax matters to be a top practice area in the lame-duck session and well into the 113th Congress, executives with both firms say.

“Tax reform and the budget are going to dominate the agenda next year, and this is a good opportunity to do some joint marketing with a good bunch of people,” said Jim Gould, a founder of GDS Strategies. “That’s what it’s about for us. It’s going to be an exciting time.”

Because the firms will retain their separate identities, they can represent clients that would otherwise be in conflict with one another.

“We’re independent and wanted to stay independent,” Gould said. “By staying independent, we can jointly service and market clients, but if we want to do things separately — because of conflicts or just business reasons — we can pursue opportunities separately without a problem.”

Beginning this summer, Ogilvy lost some of its top talent, including GOP lobbyist Wayne Berman and Drew Maloney, who is now with Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s presidential transition team.

In addition, De’Ana Dow and John O’Neill left for Capitol Counsel (Gould’s former shop), and Ryan Thompson left to start his own business. Steve Tilton, a former lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America, is joining Crossroads Strategies this fall.

Ogilvy also recently hired House Republican Conference Chief of Staff Dee Buchanan and Con Lass, senior director of federal relations with the American Petroleum Institute. Taylor said Ogilvy will announce another hire within the next two weeks.

In addition to Gould, the GDS team includes Thomas Dwyer and Tucker Shumack. They opened GDS earlier this year.

“There’s so much at stake for every client, even if tax isn’t their principle concern in Washington,” Taylor said. “Nobody will be unaffected by the changes that are expected on tax policy.”

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