Family Business

Posted March 23, 2007 at 5:58pm

Former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and his children, Matthew and Chrissy, have started the Gephardt Group, a lobbying and consulting enterprise. [IMGCAP(1)]

The firm registered late last week to represent three clients, including ethanol producer E3 Biofuels and Peabody Energy, an electricity company that relies on coal.

“Especially once the Democrats won the House back, there was more of that work that became available,” said Matthew Gephardt, who serves as the group’s chief operating officer and managing partner. He is based in Atlanta.

In addition to lobbying, the Gephardt Group advises some clients, such as Ford Motor Co., Goldman Sachs and Anheuser-Busch on labor relations and business development.

Richard Gephardt, who is the group’s president and chief executive officer, will continue to serve as an adviser to the firm DLA Piper Rudnick, which has an affiliation with the new group.

Matthew Gephardt, who has an MBA from Northwestern University, was a vice president at RedPrairie Software before joining the Gephardt Group this year.

The firm currently has six employees, including former Gephardt aide Sharon Daniels, he said. And he plans for it to grow. He also plans to find office space in Washington, D.C., in the coming year. The firm traces its roots to Gephardt and Associates, a nonlobbying firm the former Congressman started in 2005 to handle his business consulting work for Goldman Sachs, Matthew Gephardt said.

Former Rep. Jim Blanchard (D-Mich.), a Gephardt colleague in the House and at DLA Piper, said the former Minority Leader will continue to help DLA Piper recruit new clients. “He’s happy to lobby,” Blanchard said. “We’ve used him more in marketing and strategy.”

Gephardt is part of a team of lobbyists who will represent the government of Turkey through DLA Piper.

Internal Division. Even though the Biotechnology Industry Organization is leading the charge against legislation that would create a pathway to generic biotech drugs, not all of BIO’s members are toeing the association’s line.

In fact, one company plans to put its opposition to BIO on display at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing this morning. Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc., a BIO member, has dispatched its senior vice president of research, Ganesh Venkataraman, to testify in direct opposition to the association’s position. Momenta supports legislation that would make it easier for companies to make biogenerics, or generic versions of drugs made using biotechnology.

“We are a biotechnology company at our core,” said Momenta’s Valerie Threlfall, director of commercial and strategic planning. But, she added, Momenta wants to use its technology to get into the generics business.

The biggest BIO members, including Amgen and Genentech, which have patented biotech drugs on the market, have the most to lose, industry sources say. But many of the little BIO companies have stayed in line — at least publicly.

“Smaller biotechs are secretly rooting for this,” said a lobbyist who represents the Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market, which is pushing for the legislation to speed the process of biogenerics. “They recognize that they have the science and increasingly the ability to generate products and revenue through this pathway.”

Jeff Joseph, BIO’s vice president of communications, said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of Momenta’s position. As for BIO’s stance, he said, “It’s not entirely accurate that we’re completely and totally opposed, but we certainly are opposed to the legislation that’s currently out there.”

Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which is pushing for the biogenerics legislation, said the divisions among BIO’s members are greater than the group’s position would indicate.

“The big, established biotech companies and the smaller ones of the future” don’t see eye to eye, he said. “The smaller ones see tremendous opportunity, the bigger ones want the status quo.”

Brand This. The branding firm Siegel + Gale has set up shop in D.C. to lure association and lobbying clients.

“We are going to launch a major outreach to associations and nonprofits,” said the firm’s D.C. chief, David Henderson, a former Edelman employee. “This is a city that’s built around visibility, and if an organization or advocacy group has a clearer brand that’s easier to understand, then that will cut through the clutter on the Hill.”

Siegel + Gale already is working to hippen up the image of AARP and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In May, Henderson said he is starting a series of seminars for advocacy groups, defense contractors and associations.

“We are expanding rapidly,” he said, adding that the firm has teamed up with Fleishman-Hillard, since both are owned by Omnicom Group.

K Street Moves. Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations last week snagged former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), who joined the firm as co-chairman. He will work out of Fleishman-Hillard’s St. Louis and D.C. offices.

“The expertise he gained while serving on the Senate Committees on Agriculture, Armed Services, and Energy & Natural Resources adds a new dimension to the strategic counsel Fleishman-Hillard can now offer our public affairs and government relations clients,” Dave Senay, president and CEO of the firm, said in a statement.

• Defense lobbyist Terrence O’Connell, whose clients include BAE Systems, has joined the Carmen Group as managing director of its defense projects practice. O’Connell, a Vietnam veteran, most recently was president of Davis O’Connell.

• The Livingston Group, the firm of former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), has added Jill Schuker, a former senior official in the administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.