Nextel: Done

Posted February 27, 2004 at 5:19pm

If it were a Nextel ad, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) would bark into his two-way wireless phone: “I need some wireless spectrum.”

On the other end of the line, Michael Powell, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, would respond: “Done.”

But in real life it’s not so easy, so Giuliani and his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, may have to work a bit harder to help their new client win approval for a plan to rearrange the wireless spectrum in a way that could benefit the company.

Nextel has hired Giuliani and his firm for $15 million after it was discovered that Nextel’s two-way-radio phones cause interference for some radio stations, according to The New York Times.

FCC approval of Nextel’s plan could be worth $7.2 billion for the company, according to rival Verizon Communications.

Though he is working for the company, Giuliani does not plan to register as a lobbyist.

Giuliani — who used a Nextel phone to communicate with city officials in the hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York — believes that the government relations help he provides to Nextel and his other corporate clients does not constitute lobbying.

Last year, an official at Giuliani Partners urged Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) to ease back on a drive to block the federal government from giving contracts to bankrupt MCI WorldCom, another Giuliani client.

However, Giuliani Partners did not consider that lobbying — and did not file the necessary lobbying registration forms with Congress.

Spencer Stuart Scores at Box Office. Major corporations and trade associations knew for years that when they wanted to hire a new top lobbyist, there was only one place to turn: head-hunting firm Korn/Ferry International.

Now rival Spencer Stuart is trying to become the place to go to find rainmakers on K Street.

Last week, the new firm landed one of the biggest searches of the year, the Motion Picture Association of America.

After twice failing to hire big-name retiring Members from Louisiana — Rep. Billy Tauzin (R) and Sen. John Breaux (D) — the motion picture studio chiefs decided to look for some professional help.

The MPAA hopes to have a new president on board this summer, since the movie industry has already spent about a year looking for a new boss to replace retiring President Jack Valenti.

But don’t worry about the folks at Korn/Ferry. They are still busy working out a deal between Tauzin and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association.

Wilson Joins Bingham. Former California Gov. and Sen. Pete Wilson (R) starts today as principle at Bingham Consulting’s Los Angeles office.

The Stanford University Herbert Hoover Institution distinguished visiting fellow will also be of counsel to Bingham McCutchen, the international law firm.

Bingham, based in California, also has offices in D.C., New York, Tokyo, London and Boston.

Wilson also advises President Bush on foreign affairs matters and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on defense policy.

Leaving the White House. Citigroup has brought on Wendy Grubbs, President Bush’s special assistant for legislative affairs, at its D.C. lobbying shop.

She will be working for Nick Calio, another former top Bush official who is now running Citigroup’s lobbying shop here in Washington.

Before serving as one of the president’s principal liaisons to the Senate, Grubbs was the link to the Senate for the White House’s Office of Homeland Security before it became a Cabinet-level department.

Candi’s Client. Candi Wolff just recently left the White House for K Street, but she has already landed her first big client.

Wolff, who was the chief Congressional lobbyist for Vice President Cheney before joining Washington Council Ernst & Young, has been tapped to head a broad coalition of companies that are pushing to block taxes on Internet access.

The coalition includes companies ranging from AT&T to Yahoo that want to approve a permanent moratorium on Internet taxes.

The coalition was founded in 2001 but ramped up its efforts after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) blocked the legislation late last year.

“We are trying to explain to the Members of the Senate that if they don’t put a moratorium on taxing Internet access, then they are voting to raise taxes on their citizens,” said Bill McCloskey, a spokesman for coalition member BellSouth Corp.

Supreme Move. James Duff, former administrative assistant to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, has joined the National Center for State Courts’ Lawyers Committee, the Williamsburg, Va.-based nonprofit court reform organization.

Duff, after leaving the Supreme Court, became managing partner in the D.C. office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz.