The Hill interviewed McCormick Group Principal Ivan Adler on Akin Gump’s connection to Hillary Clinton.
By Megan R. Wilson | May 21, 2015
K Street’s top moneymaker, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, has strong ties to Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign, putting the firm in a plum position to impact the 2016 election cycle and cement its standing among Washington lobby shops in a potential Clinton administration.
Akin Gump boasts a slew of Clinton connections, including the campaign’s treasurer, José Villarreal, who remains an active consultant for the firm.
“It’s obvious that political connections are hugely important in the lobbying game, and certainly Akin has positioned themselves nicely, should Hillary get the Democratic nomination and then become president,” said Ivan Adler, a principal at The McCormick Group.
To be sure, Akin Gump’s massive and bipartisan operation has top Republican connections, including ties to current and likely 2016 presidential candidates.
But in the firm’s Washington office alone, there are at least a half-dozen “Hillstarters” — people who have committed to bundle $27,000 each in contributions for the Hillary for America campaign, including Don Pongrace, the head of the firm’s public law and policy practice.
“I am and have been a strong supporter of Secretary Clinton as a pragmatic and decisive individual with a gift for identifying rational responses to big problems,” he said.
“We attract people as partners and associates across the firm that are attracted to law and policy, and as a result, they’re more personally engaged in politics,” he added.
Other Hillstarter bundlers include Arshi Siddiqui, a former adviser to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Scott Parven, a former board member of the Democratic Leadership Council.
Former Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), although not a Hillstarter, is also lending his support.
The activity marks a turning point for many Democrats on K Street since the last election: President Obama would not accept donations from registered lobbyists, and placed strict rules about their involvement with the White House.
Lobbyists across town were already lining up behind Clinton as early as last March, including Steve Elmendorf, president of Elmendorf | Ryan, who said at the time it wasn’t even a “close call” as to who he’d support.
Jonathan Mantz, of the mostly Republican BGR Group, served as Clinton’s national finance director during her 2008 presidential bid. He also serves as an adviser to the super-PAC Priorities USA, which was created to support Obama but has now shifted its focus on boosting Clinton.
Still, Akin Gump’s bench of Clinton supporters runs deep. The firm employs others in the Clintons’ orbit, including Vernon Jordan and Al From.
Jordan, who became close with the former first family after serving as a senior adviser and confidant to Bill Clinton, now works as a senior counsel at Akin.
Meanwhile, From, who founded the Democratic Leadership Council, which was later absorbed into the Clinton Foundation, worked to get Bill Clinton elected president in 1992 and advised him during the transition into the White House. He is a consultant with the firm.
“They’re a very politically active firm that is involved in all levels of campaigns,” one senior Democratic fundraiser told The Hill about Akin Gump’s presence in Washington. “They have more partners engaged in Democratic campaigns than any other firm that I know of in the city.”
Akin Gump — and its lawyers and lobbyists — have long been active on the campaign scene. The tradition goes back to its founding in 1945 by the late Robert Strauss, once a chairman of the Democratic National Committee