Verizon and Verizon Wireless to Merge In-House Lobbying Teams
Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless are combining their in-house lobbying teams.Republican Peter Davidson, who has been heading Verizon’s lobbying team, will continue to oversee federal lobbying. Democrat Howard Woolley, who was in charge of Verizon Wireless’ lobbying team, will continue to lobby on wireless issues and will also now focus on outreach to the Obama administration.Both Davidson and Woolley will maintain their titles as senior vice presidents and report directly to Tom Tauke, the former Republican Congressman from Iowa who is Verizon’s executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications.Verizon declined to comment on the changes. Davidson joined Verizon in 2003 and has been in charge of the company’s 11 federally registered lobbyists and outreach to the administration. Verizon has spent $9.83 million on lobbying this year.Woolley joined Verizon Wireless in 2000 and was appointed as head of federal government relations, the first African-American lobbyist to hold such a position for a major wireless company. He later also assumed responsibility for the company’s state government relations.Woolley leads a team of three other federal lobbyists. Verizon Wireless spent $3.62 million on lobbying so far this year. Outside consultants for Verizon and Verizon Wireless said the decision to merge the lobbying teams wasn’t surprising given the move to combine the companies’ tax group last year. The companies had also already been holding strategic meetings with lobbyists from both entities on issues such as net neutrality.Still, Democratic telecom lobbyists were cynical about Davidson maintaining his role as head of federal government affairs at the communications company.“It’s indicative of the culture downtown because these guys think they are going to gain back the House and the Senate,— one Democratic telecom lobbyist said. “Now you have a Dick Armey Republican heading up the shop for Verizon.—Davidson served for four years as general counsel and policy director to Armey when the Texan served as House Majority Leader.It’s unclear how the shake-up will affect outside consultants. Both telecom firms have a large retinue of consultants and a number of lobbying firms work for both Verizon and Verizon Wireless.Verizon has more than 30 consultants on retainer, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports. The Fritts Group, Clark Lytle & Geduldig, the Glover Park Group, McGuireWoods, and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti are among the company’s outside lobbyists.Verizon Wireless has 19 outside lobbyists on retainer, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports. BlueWater Strategies, Venable, and Quinn Gillespie & Associates all work for the wireless team.The companies have at least 10 outside consultants in common, including Capitol Hill Consulting Group, DLA Piper, Elmendorf Strategies, Wiley Rein, Polaris Government Relations and Mercury Strategies.