Second Career

Posted July 6, 2007 at 3:03pm

Robert Van Heuvelen, who has been chief of staff to Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) for a decade and has spent a total of 32 years in the government, is leaving Capitol Hill to start his own consulting business. [IMGCAP(1)]

A native of Bismarck, N.D., Van Heuvelen came to Washington, D.C., in 1975 to work for then-Sen. Quentin Burdick (D-N.D.).


As he prepared to leave his Senate office in the Hart Building last week, he packed up the photographs — some in black and white — that bring to life his résumé: a stint working for Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine); serving 11 years as a prosecutor at the Justice Department; and time as head of the civil enforcement program at the Environmental Protection Agency.


While working for Conrad, who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Van Heuvelen said he made a point of reaching out to Republican aides and hopes his lobbying practice will continue that bipartisan theme. When he started at Conrad’s office, he said, “we did not know the names or faces of our Republican colleagues.”


By the time he left, Van Heuvelen had helped shape monthly breakfasts, dinners and a foreign policy meeting for chiefs of staff of both parties.


Van Heuvelen joined Conrad’s staff in 1997 as policy director and took over as chief of staff when his predecessor died unexpectedly. He had known Conrad growing up — and said he “didn’t like Kent when I first met him” because of Conrad’s superior basketball skills. “It was total jealousy,” said Van Heuvelen, who will be barred for one year from lobbying Conrad’s office.


In his private-sector practice, which he expects to name Van Heuvelen Strategies — in Dutch, he said, his last name means “from the hill” — he plans to focus on environmental, tax and budget issues, among others. He chose to start his own venture, instead of joining an existing firm, because he wanted the flexibility to build a client base without concern for conflicts or the headache of billing time at a law firm.


As for future clients, he said, “There are some hedge funds that are going to have to be looking for strategic counsel.” He’s referring, of course, to bills in the Senate and House that would increase some taxes paid by hedge funds and private equity firms. Health care and financial services enterprises also are likely prospective clients.


“When I think about what I’ve been able to do with my time in Washington, I’ve had a great deal of fun and success,” he said. “I hope to take that strategic approach and keep working on many of the same issues.”


Tax Relief. Speaking of those jittery hedge funds and private equity groups, one such enterprise, the Citadel Group,


has tapped Capitol Tax Partners to look out for its interests in Washington, D.C.


Capitol Tax’s co-founder Lindsay Hooper and the firm’s Jon Talisman, a former assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, will take the lead on the client.


Warming Up. The Business Roundtable has added lobbyist Richard Goodstein to help the group navigate the global warming debate.


Goodstein, who helped the Clinton-Gore administration set up its Environmental Protection Agency, represents a range of companies on energy and environmental matters.


As the BRT ranks its legislative priorities, “climate and energy are pretty high up on the list, along with health care and trade. They just decided to beef up their already strong bullpen and threw me in it,” Goodstein said.


The BRT this week also is expected to make a statement on climate change, so stay tuned.


K Street Moves. The American Public Power Association has named Mark Crisson, the public utilities chief in Tacoma, Wash., as its next president and chief executive. He will take over in December from Alan Richardson, who is retiring.


• FD Dittus Communications has expanded its employee roster by five: Lawrence Pacheco, communications director for Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), will join the energy and environment practice as a senior director; Corry Schiermeyer, who previously worked for the White House National Security Council, will be assistant vice president of the energy and environment practice; Michael Tucker, who came from rival firm Qorvis Communications, has joined as a vice president in the public affairs practice; Julie Panna, the former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, signs on as assistant vice president; and Banks Willis, formerly with General Electric, will be assistant vice president in the firm’s health and nutrition practice.


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