Six months after the U.S. auto industry began searching for a top-name Republican to take over its Washington trade association, the effort appears to be sputtering.
Sources close to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson confirm that he formally rejected an offer from the Association of Automobile Manufacturers last month to take the post.
The former Wisconsin governor had been the top choice of the automakers — and his move sent the job search back to the starting line.
“We’re still months away,” said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the trade association.
The automakers had hoped to settle on a new president by the end of the summer, but now they are aiming for the end of the year.
The new president is just one phase of a multifaceted effort by the auto alliance to shift its Washington efforts into a higher gear.
“We are looking to take a more visible public advocacy role,” Bergquist said earlier this year.
The association also plans to boost its $25 million budget and add to its 35-person staff.
Among the remaining dream candidates for the post are former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman and former Michigan Gov. John Engler (R).
After HHS Exit, Rehnquist Lands at Venable. After leaving her position as inspector general at the Health and Human Services Department earlier this year amid controversy, Janet Rehnquist will now co-chair the D.C. health care practice at the Venable law firm.
The new lobbyist, who is the daughter of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is a former Hill aide.
Rehnquist, 46, has served as counsel to the Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on investigations and as associate counsel in the first Bush administration.
Mortgage Bankers Name Lobbying Director. Former Hill staffer Francis Creighton has been tapped by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America to be its director of government affairs.
Creighton comes to the association from the office of Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), where he was legislative director.
The new lobbyist, who was a senior counsel at GCI Group in New York City, has a long list of experience in the executive and legislative branches.
He has held positions in the Labor Department and in the offices of then-Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.) and the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).
Commanding the Fleet. FleetBoston Financial has sent a familiar face — Al Maldon — back to D.C. to head its new government affairs and liaison office in the nation’s capital. While Maldon has been in Boston serving as Fleet’s executive vice president and corporate administrative services executive director since 2001, he is no stranger to Capitol Hill. Maldon served as assistant secretary of Defense for force management policy during the Clinton administration.
Maldon was also President Bill Clinton’s deputy assistant for legislative affairs and served as the Congressional liaison to the House and Senate during his administration.
Campaign Vet to Direct NFIB Political Efforts. Jacque Mason has been named vice president at the National Federation of Independent Business to direct the political efforts of the largest small-business advocacy group.
Mason has helped run campaigns for GOPAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Meanwhile, Ianthe Jackson has left the office of Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) to become the NFIB’s spokeswoman, replacing Ed Frank.
CEA Bolsters Tech Policy Staff. The Consumer Electronics Association has added Adam Falkoff and Rebecca Ellis to its technology policy office.
Falkoff is the new senior director of legislative affairs; Ellis is the new director of environmental and legal affairs.
AIDS Policy Shop Gets New Chief. The American Foundation for AIDS Research has hired Judith Auerbach to be vice president for public policy.
The organization was instrumental in pushing the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Relief Act, but has modified its mission to global HIV/AIDS policy issues.
Washington Partners Adds New VP. Ellen Fern, who most recently coordinated national and corporate sponsorships for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, is now a senior vice president at Washington Partners.
Her past Capitol Hill experience includes stints in the offices for then-Rhode Island Sen. Claiborne Pell (D), and then-Rep. Charles Schumer (D), now New York’s senior Senator.
A New Face on K Street. Christopher D’Arcy, formerly the House Agriculture subcommittee on livestock and horticulture’s staff director, has been named vice president at Will & Carlson Inc., the D.C.-based natural resources government affairs firm.
In his position, D’Arcy will oversee the firm’s natural resources, agriculture, trade, food safety and American Indian policy practice.
Charles Schwab Hires Exchange Director. Geoffrey Gradler, who was the director of Congressional and regulatory affairs for the Cincinnati Stock Exchange, has been named a senior vice president at Charles Schwab, where he will direct its government affairs office.