Ari Takes Road Show to K Street

Posted March 5, 2004 at 5:25pm

Ari Fleischer, President Bush’s former spokesman and a top draw on the speaking circuit these days, has founded a one-man strategic communications and consulting practice to help corporations navigate the political channels in Washington.

Headquartered in the Connecticut Avenue offices of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, Fleischer already has signed up a handful of corporate clients and plans to begin reaching out for more.

“For now it’s a smaller part of what I do,” Fleischer said in an interview. “But over time, I expect that to grow.”

Companies contacted by Fleischer say that he asks for a minimum of $30,000 a month and demands a two-year contract.

Because Fleischer says he will perform “zero lobbying,” he will not register as a lobbyist. As a result, he will not have to publicly disclose his clients or fees.

“I’d prefer to keep that between the clients and me,” Fleischer said.

Fleischer said he teaches his clients “how to think through their various activities and how to handle communications activities.”

For at least the next few months, Fleischer plans to continue devoting most of his time to delivering speeches and working on his book.

When that trails off, he expects to focus more time on his growing consulting shop.

For now, he said, “I’m just too busy with the speeches and book.”

Freddie’s Top Lobbyist Quits. Mitch Delk, the top lobbyist at Freddie Mac, plans to leave the mortgage finance giant as he and his longtime employer come under increased Congressional scrutiny.

Delk is currently negotiating the terms of his departure with Freddie Mac.

Delk’s move comes after The Wall Street Journal disclosed that the close ally to House Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) earned $1.1 million last year as a lobbyist for Freddie.

Word of Delk’s departure comes as lawmakers work to craft stronger regulations for Freddie and its mortgage-finance sibling, Fannie Mae.

Health Care Aide Leaves Tauzin. While Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) lays plans to leave Capitol Hill for work in the drug industry, the man who did the Congressman’s health care work has joined the law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood.

Patrick Morrisey, the deputy staff director on the Energy and Commerce Committee and Tauzin’s chief health care adviser, was one of the principal authors of the Republicans’ Medicare reform legislation that was approved late last year.

Meanwhile, Tauzin is still expected to become the top lobbyist at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America when he retires from Congress this year.

Breaux-McCrery on Hold. One day after announcing that he will remain in Congress for at least another term, Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.) revealed that he discussed the idea of forming a lobbying shop with fellow Louisianan Sen. John Breaux (D).

“We would have had to decide whether it would be Breaux & McCrery or McCrery & Breaux,” McCrery teased reporters last week. “We said: ‘Gosh, it would be a great firm.’ I’d be the House guy, and he would be the Senate guy. He’d be the Democrat. I’d be the Republican.”

But McCrery’s decision to remain in Congress has put those plans on hold.

Sonnenschein Hires Two More. Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal has hired two Republican insiders to join its growing lobbying practice.

The firm has added Frederick McClure, a former official in the legislative affairs office under President George H.W. Bush; and Mark Cushing, a member of Energy Secretary Spence Abraham’s advisory board.

Both join Sonnenschein from the law firm Winstead Sechrest & Minick.

Boeing Shoots for Help. The Boeing Co. announced that it has hired former Capitol Hill aide Michael Hurt to help lobby on missile defense issues.

Hurt, who leaves the office of Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.), once worked as a defense and national security adviser to Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.).

Brodsky Joins Public Knowledge. Former Capitol Hill reporter Art Brodsky has been named communications director at Public Knowledge, a public interest advocacy group.

Brodsky covered telecommunications and intellectual property issues for two decades as an editor with Congressional Quarterly and a reporter with CommunicationsDaily.

Preston Gates Adds One. Commerce Department official Connie Correll Partoyan plans to join the government affairs practice at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds this month.

Partoyan, now a senior official with the Commerce Department’s technology division, has worked for TechNet and the Information Technology Industry Council.

Another Podesta on K Street. Blank Rome has taken Heather Miller Podesta, a longtime House and Senate aide, from Capitol Hill to K Street.

Podesta, who will be a partner in Blank Rome’s D.C. office, served most recently as tax and trade counsel to Rep. Robert Matsui (D-Calif.) and legislative counsel to Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.). She also worked for then-Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) on trade and transportation issues.

Podesta’s husband is Tony Podesta of PodestaMattoon. CORRECTION: Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer is not demanding two-year contracts for clients of this communications firm.