K Street Files: Washington Group No More

Posted November 14, 2008 at 5:45pm

Omnicom Group consolidated two of its lobby shops on Friday, announcing a merger between the Washington Group and Clark & Weinstock.

[IMGCAP(1)]The new firm will be organized under the Clark & Weinstock brand.

“We always thought there were a certain set of synergies,” said former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.), who will be the senior partner of the reorganized firm. “It’s an easy merger, at least at a logistical level, with benefits and salary and paperwork being taken care of by the same people.”

The merger brings Clark & Weinstock’s numbers up to about 20 consultants and will help bolster its Democratic ranks, Weber said.

The merger comes after months of rumors on K Street that the Washington Group was looking to merge. Last week, the firm let go three senior vice presidents — Brett Shogren, Carlos Bonilla and Eugene Patrone, all Republicans — in preparation for the move.

Omnicom’s Ketchum Inc. bought the Washington Group in 2001.

The firm has faced a series of departures over the past year.

Molinari left for the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani in September after seven years with the firm.

Co-founder John Raffaelli departed in 2007 to found Capitol Counsel, and he was later joined by former Washington Group Democratic lobbyist Richard Sullivan in 2007 and defense lobbyist Anthony Marken earlier this year.

Other lobbyists who have exited include Democrat Marissa Mitrovich this fall; Rita Lewis, a longtime member of the firm and its former vice chairwoman, to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in January; and health care specialists William Burke and Kathy Kulkarni, who formed Rubicon Advisors in 2007.

Despite the departures, it maintains a number of senior lobbyists, including Republicans Missy Edwards, Tonya Speed, Fowler West and Jim Noone.

Clark & Weinstock also boasts several senior lobbyists, including Sandi Stuart, Christopher D’Arcy and Jim Dyer.

Dropping Like Flies. Two more big-name trade association heads are leaving as the impact of the November elections continues to reverberate through downtown.

Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot is leaving the American Insurance Association, effective Feb. 1. The former Republican National Committee chairman spent more than three years as president and chief executive officer of the powerful property-casualty trade association.

Racicot is being replaced by Leigh Ann Pusey, the trade group’s chief operating officer and senior vice president for government affairs.

Pusey, who served as communications coordinator for former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and was deputy director of communications for the RNC, is also a Republican, but he has a lower profile than Racicot.

Frank Bowman also resigned Friday as president and CEO at the Nuclear Energy Institute. Bowman has been at the energy organization for almost four years. He cited the change in Congress and the White House as reasons for his departure.

Marvin Fertel, NEI executive vice president and chief nuclear officer, is leading the organization during the transition period.

Holding Out Hope. With even just the hint of a possibility that a lame-duck Congressional session could include movement on the beleaguered free-trade agreement with Colombia, lobbyists pushing for the pact are ready to kick into action.

Christopher Wenk, trade lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the group’s Latin America Trade Coalition stands ready to act.

“We are absolutely not giving up,” he said. “We’ve done thousands of meetings and are pushing this as much as we can. We’re ready to ramp up even more.”

Wenk said the group was meeting with Congressional aides even last week during the recess.

One thing standing squarely in the way: unions, who oppose the deal because they say Colombia is by far the worst country for anti-union violence.

K Street Moves. The American Wind Energy Association has tapped Denise Bode as its new chief executive officer, it announced Friday.

Bode replaces Randall Swisher, who is retiring after 19 years with AWEA.

Bode, who is currently CEO of the American Clean Skies Foundation, is a longtime Washington lobbyist. She previously headed the Independent Petroleum Association of America and spent nine years as legal counsel to former Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.).

• Robert Ragan will become senior vice president of the National Foreign Trade Council on Jan. 12. Ragan currently serves as principal vice president of engineering and construction company Bechtel. He formerly served in the departments of Energy and Defense as well as NASA.

• Jack Quinn is hosting a reception Wednesday at the Quinn Gillespie & Associates offices on Connecticut Avenue Northwest to help Sen.-elect Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) retire her campaign debt and begin building her 2014 war chest. “Hosts” are asked to contribute $5,000, while “sponsors” can grab a drink for $2,500.

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