The lobby shop Forbes-Tate, which tilts strongly Democratic, has recruited a floor aide from Speaker John A. Boehner’s leadership operation, instantly doubling the firm’s Republican headcount and deepening its bench in the House.
Jeff Strunk, who has spent the past eight years working as a Hill aide and most recently as Boehner’s deputy floor director, said he was drawn to the firm by his close friendship with its only other Republican, W. Ryan Welch, and the opportunity to ultimately add more names to its GOP roster. Strunk will become part of a large network of former Boehner aides to set up shop on K Street.
“Working for the speaker has been a dream job,” Strunk said. “It just came time in my life when it was the right move. I really liked the idea of going to grow the Republican side to expand on their already bicameral, bipartisan makeup of the firm.”
In a press release provided by Forbes-Tate, Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “For years, Jeff has been a crucial member of our team running the floor of the House. I will miss his hard work and counsel, but I know he will be a valuable asset wherever he goes. I wish him all the best.”
The firm’s two partners, Jeff Forbes and Dan Tate Jr., are both longtime lobbyists, well-known in Democratic circles. Forbes, a former top aide to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, is one of his former boss’s closest outside advisers. And Tate, a second-generation lobbyist, amassed a book of business at his previous outfit Capitol Solutions.
“We have never sold ourselves as a bipartisan firm,” Forbes said. “There’s no doubt I’m a Democrat, no doubt Dan Tate’s a Democrat.”
But, Forbes added, “In the next year, so much is going to have to be done in a bipartisan manner. We’re going to help our clients communicate between both chambers and the leadership in both chambers.”
But the prospect of grand bargains on a tax overhaul and other high-profile legislative debates wasn’t the only reason for bringing Strunk on board, he said.
“Our vision of the firm is to get a bunch of people who really like each other who go to work every day and enjoy it,” Forbes said. “The reality is we like him. We think he’s a great guy, and that was our driving force as much as anything.”
Welch, currently the lone Republican at the firm who has worked on the Senate campaigns of North Carolina’s Richard M. Burr and Tennessee’s Bob Corker, was in Strunk’s November wedding.
The Forbes-Tate shop, the result of a merger this summer between Cauthen Forbes and Williams and Capitol Solutions, had a combined lobbying revenue in 2011 of $8.2 million.
The firm’s clients include health care, telecom and other business interests such as AdvaMed, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Advocacy Network, Comcast Corp., Honda Motor Co. and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. When Strunk joins Jan. 7, the firm will have 11 lobbyists and four support staffers.
Because Strunk’s Hill salary does not meet the threshold to trigger a cooling-off period, he will be free to immediately lobby his former colleagues. But the new job will be a transition, he said.
“I’m going to be coming from being the one that’s providing information to the one that’s seeking information, and it’s going to be an adjustment,” Strunk said.