What does the new position at Squire Patton Boggs mean for former Speaker John Boehner? Government affairs recruiter Ivan Adler spoke to the National Law Journal about the issue.
By Susan Beck & Katelyn Polantz | September 20, 2016
John Boehner ended months of speculation about his post-Capitol Hill plans on Tuesday with the announcement that he’s joining Squire Patton Boggs.
But what does the hire mean for the 1,500-lawyer firm?
Boehner is not a lawyer, and he will not act as a lobbyist, the firm said. The 66-year-old former U.S. House speaker will be a strategic adviser to the firm’s clients and will focus on global business development, according to a press release.
Among Republicans, Boehner’s network with corporate America may be unmatched — as evidenced by his $100 million fundraising haul for himself, PACs and the party and by the announcement this month that he is joining the corporate board of tobacco company Reynolds American Inc.
“His Rolodex will be off the scale,” said J. Randolph Evans of Dentons, who helped recruit former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to that firm last year. And, Evans said, he commands attention. “Nobody doesn’t take a call from a former speaker,” he said.
Marc Lampkin, a former legal adviser to Boehner who now runs Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Washington office and lobbying group, echoed Evans’ comments. The former speaker can “open doors and provide an entry to the C-suite level” for the firm, he said.
Much of the firm’s Capitol Hill lobbying business has since revolved around former senators Trent Lott and John Breaux. Both men, in their 70s, are registered lobbyists who maintain a regular presence on the Hill. (The firm extended their employment contract and removed non-compete terms after Patton Boggs merged with Squire Sanders in 2014.) In 2015 Squire Patton also hired two more former members, Reps. Jim Matheson and Jack Kingston, though Matheson left to lead a utility cooperative this year.
Together with Breaux and Lott’s group, Boehner partly fills a gap left after Boggs’ death, Lampkin said. “You don’t replace Tommy Boggs with one person,” he said. Boehner “is part of a solution to re-stabilize and re-strengthen their D.C. presence.”
Two Boehner aides, John Criscuolo and Amy Lozupone, will also be joining the firm, which previously hired former Boehner chief of staff and longtime aide David Schnittger as a senior policy adviser in January 2015. In addition to Schnittger, Squire Patton Boggs already had on staff Boehner’s former policy assistant Natasha Eckard Hammond.
“It’s not just a side gig for him,” Schnittger said Tuesday. He’s clear that he wanted to be part of a team again, and he’ll be a full part of what the firm does.”
Boehner’s work with Squire Patton may follow the model set by former Sen. Tom Daschle, now affiliated with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, in which he did strategic work for clients but did not register as a lobbyist until recent years. Or it could mirror former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s current tenure at Dentons, where he is on hand to make public appearances and has not registered to lobby.
“He attends meetings with clients and facilitates between potential clients and the firm,” said Evans about Gingrich. “He puts you in rooms that you would never be in but for being associated with the former speaker. Plus, he’s on TV all the time. If we had to buy that air time I don’t know what it would cost.”
Hiring former politicians can be risky, however, if both sides don’t have the right expectations. “A lot of times it’s hit or miss,” said D.C. recruiter Dan Binstock of Garrison & Sisson. “You hope that both sides are honest about their intentions and goals. It’s rare that a former Capitol Hill high -profile political leader will want to go to a law firm and start working like an attorney.”
But there are obvious perks to a steady gig at a major firm, said recruiter Ivan Adler of the McCormick Group. “He’s going to be a prototypical rainmaker at a law firm and should be good at it,” Adler said. “He’s a gregarious, well-liked guy who does very well in the world of schmoozing. Now he gets to be a professional schmoozer and be paid well for it […]”
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