Like Father, Like Son

Posted December 11, 2007 at 6:15pm

When former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and his son, John Breaux Jr., open for business next year — perhaps with another father-son duo: Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and offspring, Chet — they won’t be the only père et fils combo on K Street. [IMGCAP(1)]

In fact, the Breaux already got some advice from one of the longest lasting dad-son firms, Johnston & Associates, which launched in 1997 by retired Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) and his son, Hunter.

“It’s the best business decision I ever made,” said Hunter Johnston, whose lobbying resume also included working at Williams & Jensen and Jones Walker before setting up shop with Dad. “At the beginning, I will admit it wasn’t completely easy.”

There was that difficult transition for Bennett Johnston, a former chairman, of adjusting to the decidedly more low-key digs, staff and other trappings of a lobbyist. “But we managed to figure it all out,” Hunter Johnston said. “The relationship and the business are both quite strong, and we’ve really enjoyed it.”

So much so that Hunter Johnston has recommended it to both Breaux. John Breaux Jr. used to work at Johnston & Associates and Breaux Sr. and Bennett Johnston represented the same state, so the four know each other well.

“It’s great to work with your son and see how good he can be,” said Bennett Johnston, who once practiced law with his own father in Shreveport, La. “I take a lot of pride in his good work.”

Another well-known father-son K Street team is former Rep. Norm Lent (R-N.Y.) and his son, Norm Lent III, at Lent Scrivner & Roth. The Lents could not be reached for comment, but lobbyist Rich Gold of Holland & Knight said he has worked with both. “It’s been great for them, a great way to spend meaningful family time that goes beyond watching football on Sunday,” Gold said.

Two other father-son lobby teams have gone their separate ways. Former Rep. Larry LaRocco (D-Idaho) left lobbying altogether to run for office again in the Gem State, while his son, Matthew LaRocco, works at Arnold & Porter as a senior legislative and policy adviser. And Richard Alcalde, now with Potomac Partners, previously worked at Alcalde & Fay, the firm of his father, Hector Alcalde.

In some cases, though, lobbyists say the sons are riding on the coattails of their better-connected parents.

Survey Says. According to a poll released Tuesday by Harris Interactive, lobbying groups AARP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are among the best known and most trusted as rated by an online survey of some 2,455 people. The National Rifle Association also scored high in terms of name recognition.

“With nearly 40 million members, it’s not really surprising that we’d be so recognizable,” AARP spokesman Drew Nannis said. “But we hold the trust of our members and all Americans very seriously, and to continually rate as one of the most trusted organizations is far more important to us.”

The survey ranked the AFL-CIO, the chamber, NRA, American Civil Liberties Union, Brookings Institute and American Enterprise Institutes as among the most powerful organizations in Washington, D.C.

Mining a Transition. The National Mining Association has mined its ranks, and promoted Harold Quinn Jr. to the new position of executive vice president and general counsel. Rich Nolan has become senior vice president of government affairs and will have overall responsibility for the association’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, Dan Gerkin has been selected as senior vice president of political affairs and will assume responsibility for NMA’s grass-roots advocacy program, ACT Online, and coordinate with state mining associations.

K Street Moves. Microsoft has uploaded a new director of government affairs in its Washington office. Barry LaSala joins the high-tech giant after serving as counsel to the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, chaired by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). LaSala will lead Microsoft’s efforts in the Senate on several issues such as trade and online security.

• Richard Verma, who has spent five years as a senior policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is going back to Steptoe & Johnson where he will be a partner in the firm’s government affairs and public policy group.

• The firm Stonebridge International has tapped former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) as its co-chairman. Rudman will lead the group’s expansion into such clients as investment firms and multinational businesses.

• Chris Fox, a one-time aide to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), was named an assistant vice president at Venn Strategies. The firm has promoted Jennifer Conklin, a former aide to then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), and Abby Youngken, formerly with the Democratic Governors Association, to senior associates.

• Laura Murphy, a former director and chief lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington, D.C., office, has affiliated with the Livingston Group, the firm of former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), where she will be a consultant. In addition, Livingston brought on as partners Democrats Dennis Hertel, a former six-term Representative from Detroit, and Lauri Fitz-Pegado, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Commerce in the Clinton administration.

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