An Exile Remains in D.C.

Posted May 20, 2003 at 3:58pm

Former Mississippi Rep. Mike Parker (R) has resurfaced on K Street a year after he was pushed out of the Bush administration for not toeing the company line. And overwhelmingly, he said in an interview, he is much happier in the private sector.

“I enjoy the fact that I’m not under attack, and I enjoy the fact that I don’t have to raise money for campaigning,” said Parker, who led the Army Corps of Engineers until April 2002, when he became one of the first high-profile Bush appointees to be pushed out.

Parker is working for the government affairs shop of Pasadena, Calif.-based Russ Reid Co. and has snagged a number of clients, including the Port of Los Angeles, the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Operational Respond Institute Inc.

When Parker was nominated to the Army Corps of Engineers post after losing a bitter 2000 gubernatorial campaign, it was viewed as President Bush reaching across the aisle to Democrats.

Although Parker left Congress a Republican, he entered as a Democrat. But the fiercely independent appointee managed to rub both the West Wing and his former Hill colleagues the wrong way.

When Parker testified during a Senate hearing last year, he publicly questioned the Office of Management and Budget’s decision to not fund new Corps projects because of budget constraints, irking top Bush officials.

Parker’s disdain for additional Congressional oversight and environmental regulations for the Corps didn’t help on Capitol Hill.  

But that is all in the past for Parker, who has been with Russ Reid for about a year and says he enjoys the lobbying business. Russ Reid’s D.C. office, with 16 people, has moved into the offices of Ketchum public relations, both owned by the Omnicom Group.

Parker isn’t just helping out big-name clients, but also nonprofit organizations. One is D.C.’s Gospel Rescue Mission, where he recently emceed the outreach and job training group’s annual meeting.

Two recent lobbying filings list Parker as representing his clients for Welch Resources, a legal services group he and his wife, Rosemary, an attorney, own.

Parker, a former undertaker from Laurel, Miss., explained that while he is representing clients for Russ Reid, he is crosslisted with Welch Resources as a legal “safeguard.”

After not seeking re-election to the House in 1998, Parker made an unsuccessful bid for Mississippi governor in 2000.

Quinn Gillespie Hires Four. As Ed Gillespie’s name continues to be bandied about for various jobs — including chairman of the Republican National Committee — his K Street firm is getting ever bigger.

Quinn Gillespie & Associates has added four new people to its public affairs practice, including Jim Morrell, most recently Rep. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) press secretary.

Democrat Manuel Ortiz, originally from Puerto Rico, recently came to the firm from Greenberg Traurig, where he was an attorney, lobbying for a number of corporate clients and pushing the interests of Puerto Rico on Capitol Hill, at the White House and in federal agencies.

Juan Carlos Iturregui left the Hunton & Williams law firm to take up shop at Quinn Gillespie. Iturregui’s specialty is Latin American trade issues. He also served as legislative counsel to Carlos Romero-Barcelo, then Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner to Congress.

Michael Hussey comes to Quinn Gillespie most recently serving as chief of staff and chief lobbyist for the American Resort and Development Association.

Kiss and Ride. A longtime Henry Kissinger confidante has jumped to the Cohen Group as the shop’s vice president. Christine Vick had been a partner at Andreae, Vick & Associates, where she dealt with client work involving commercial interests in China and Turkey.

Vick got her start in foreign affairs at the State Department in 1971, but followed Kissinger, then the secretary of State, into private practice four years later. She served as vice president to Kissinger, one of the world’s most powerful — and controversial — behind-the-scenes rainmakers.

Watts Continues to Rake It In. In addition to running his own consulting company, former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) is now chairman of FM Policy Focus.

The FM Policy Focus is a coalition of financial trade associations that works with consumer advocates, taxpayer groups and financial institutions to protect consumers.

Patton Boggs Snags Helms Aide. Joseph Lanier, legislative director to then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), has joined Patton Boggs as an associate in the firm’s public policy office.

Additionally, Sara Traigle, Sen. John Breaux’s (D-La.) former legislative assistant, and M. Todd Tuten, former chief of staff and counsel to Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-Fla.), have joined the firm.

I’m a Dole Man. The Cinderella story of Douglas MacKinnon, a longtime aide to former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), continues with him getting a new gig at Sullivan & Worcester.

MacKinnon had been working with Dole at Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand, which was bought out by Piper Rudnick. He will still be informally advising the former Senator, who has landed at Alston & Bird.

MacKinnon grew up on welfare and was homeless at several points in his life. He will soon be publishing a book focusing on his unlikely rise in Republican politics.

Shell’s New Lobbyist. Brian Malnak, the former staff director at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has joined Shell Oil Co. as vice president of government affairs.

Malnak replaces Stephen Ward, who is retiring after serving as Shell’s top Washington lobbyist for more than a decade.

Comcast Connecting With GOP. Just months after becoming the nation’s largest cable company, Comcast has added two more Republicans to its growing Washington office.

On Tuesday, the company hired Brian Kelly away from the Electronics Industry Association and promoted longtime lobbyist James Coltharp.

Kelly will focus on Congressional lobbying, while Coltharp will continue to focus on the Federal Communications Commission.

The moves come a few months after Comcast named former Microsoft lobbyist Kerry Knott to head its Washington lobbying effort.