Move On

Posted January 11, 2008 at 5:21pm

The dust has barely settled on the Democratic presidential bids for Sens. Joseph Biden (Del.), Chris Dodd (Conn.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, but lobbyists who had been endorsing them already are fielding requests to throw their weight (and money) behind the Democratic frontrunners. [IMGCAP(1)]

While Quinn Gillespie & Associates lobbyist Jeff Connaughton spent the past 25 years working for Biden, first on Capitol Hill and later as a supporter downtown, he’s already received a series of calls from Obama and Clinton supporters trying to recruit him into each respective camp. For his part, Connaughton says he’s shifting his allegiance to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

Another Biden loyalist, Cassidy & Associates CEO Marty Russo, as well as Neil MacBride of the Business Software Alliance have both switched their support to Clinton as well.

Longtime Dodd supporter James Healey Jr. of BKSH & Associates decided to split the difference. Healey, who says his firm already has people working for both candidates, will be supporting both Obama and Clinton financially.

“I will work to a limited degree, and work these days means contributions,” Healey said.

Richardson’s K Street ties may not have been deep, but it’s likely his supporters will be part of both candidates’ teams. “I have a lot of friends in both camps,” said Hogan & Hartson lobbyist Reid Stuntz.

So far, Stuntz says he’s leaning toward Clinton but hasn’t made a final decision.

Gilberto Ocanas of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal says he’s leaning toward Obama right now. Ocanas spent time in Iowa stumping for Richardson and helped organize the governor’s Texas statewide operation.

But not everyone on K Street is ready to jump onto the Clinton and Obama bandwagon. Lobbyist Mark Gitenstein of Mayer Brown, an ex-Biden staffer who had been supporting his former boss, says he is “decompressing” and not endorsing anyone new.

Back to School. Former New York Republican Rep. Jack Quinn’s days on K Street may be numbered. The Cassidy & Associates president, who has spent the past three years at the firm, is a finalist to become the next president of Erie Community College.

“Well, it’s premature yet, but it’s possible,” Quinn said. “There’s a process that’s quite involved and we’re about halfway through that. The possibility of getting back into education interests me a great deal.”

Quinn is set to meet with the community college’s board at the end of the month, who along with the State University of New York will have to approve the appointment.

This isn’t the first time academia has come calling for Quinn since he left office. The former schoolteacher says he’s always been interested in moving back into education. If Quinn gets the job, he’ll sever ties with Cassidy & Associates, where he’s lobbied for several railroad companies including Bombardier Inc., Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and BNSF Railway Co.

Merger Engagement. Two defense lobbying and consulting firms appear poised for a merger, but their engagement will last a while.

Congressional Strategies and The SPECTRUM Group this year decided to informally affiliate, but each firm is keeping its space at least until next year.

“The affiliation agreement will allow us to use some of the services of The SPECTRUM Group,” said Congressional Strategies partner Jim Littig, who has known SPECTRUM Group partner Greg Sharp since the 1960s, when both served in the Army. “We go to all their meetings and regularly get together.”

Gone to the Birds. Clients of a feather flock together. So it stands to reason Ogilvy Government Relations would ink contracts with both the North American Gamebird Association and Bird Shippers of America, groups that respectively represent breeders and shippers of birds used for hunts on game preserves.

A primary concern for both groups is the Sportsmanship in Hunting Act, offered by Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), that would ban transporting exotic animals for what animal rights activists call “canned hunts.” The measure doesn’t address game birds, and as such, the two groups don’t oppose the base bill, said Ogilvy lobbyist John Green. “It’s the slippery slope issue,” he said, pointing to the possibility amendments could broaden the legislation’s scope.

The firm comes by the work honestly, already counting several conservation and hunting interests among its clients, including the Alabama Wildlife Federation, the National Rifle Association and the Safari Club International.

K Street Moves. Waldo McMillan, the one-time counsel for business affairs and strategic outreach for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has joined Bryan Cave Strategies as vice president and counsel.

Most recently, McMillan led the legal affairs and public policy team of the One Economy Corp.

• Chain Bridge Bank, the McLean, Va.-based enterprise of former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.), has tapped John Vogt as its chief business development officer. Vogt previously worked at the Bond Market Association as its executive vice president. BMA merged into the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

• Williams & Jensen is ramping up its international practice and has added Eric Stewart, the former Commerce deputy assistant secretary for Europe, as a principal.

• The Fratelli Group has brought on Christie Parell, a former director of coalitions media for the White House.

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