New Fuel for API

Posted June 6, 2008 at 5:55pm

When Jack Gerard took over as president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, he brought with him sweeping changes and downsizing. But the newly named head-to-be of the American Petroleum Institute said he doesn’t expect a wholesale revamp of API, which is currently run by Red Cavaney.

[IMGCAP(1)]“We’ll figure those details out when I get to sit down with key membership,” said Gerard, who will join API in late summer. “As you know, it’s a challenging time in the oil and gas business.”

But, he added, “Red Cavaney has done an exceptional job, and those will be tough shoes to fill. We’ll go over and see what we can do at API.”

Gerard said that while it would be premature to predict what changes will be necessary, a major restructuring is not necessary. “They’ve got good people, a well-run organization with first-class people. Really it’ll be a fine tuning, perhaps enhancing their advocacy.”

Cavaney, whose organization denied that he was retiring even as Roll Call was reporting the change, was not available for comment. API put out a press release last week announcing the retirement, and a spokeswoman for the group declined any further comment.

An energy lobbyist familiar with API said the group conducted its search for Cavaney’s replacement with “cloak and dagger” secrecy.

“I do think they were looking for someone, the type of person that would come in and shake things up a little bit,” this lobbyist said. “A fresh face, a different perspective.”

Gerard said that when he joined ACC, the group had an $8 million deficit. Now, the group has $11 million in reserve. “This year, we will probably add another $10 million to that,” he said. ACC’s overall budget is $80 million a year, he said, adding that API’s is even higher.

K Street Moves. After nearly four years as the head of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s federal lobbying operation, Democrat Ron Platt is moving to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Platt joined Buchanan in 2004, when the firm reported just $400,000 in lobbying fees. Last year, he said, the firm’s total lobbying revenue hit $18.8 million with $7.6 million in lobbying disclosure act fees reported to the House and Senate.

Buchanan’s lobbying division also grew from three people to 15 in that time, he said.

“I had a lot of help from the former COO of the firm,” Platt said, referring to Buchanan’s former chief operating officer Fran Muracca, who recently left.

At Sonnenschein, Platt said, he intends to focus on lobbying and political intelligence, helping clients navigate the upcoming political changes after this year’s elections.

“If you have investments in the United States, it’s certainly of interest to you to have the intelligence to know what’s going on,” Platt said. “So, for example, you don’t come blundering into a firestorm like Dubai Ports did.”

In addition to Platt’s exit, Buchanan lobbyist Terry Haines, a Republican, left to become a senior vice president at McGuireWoods Consulting.

John Barbour, a Buchanan executive shareholder, said the firm plans to continue to grow the lobbying shop. “Absolutely,” he said. “We’re enthusiastic about it.”

Submit K Street Files tips here
.