Washington lawyers and ­lobbyists at K&L Gates, Squire Patton Boggs and other firms with ties to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., are optimistic they will have his ear as he settles into his new role as House majority leader.
Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor’s unexpected primary defeat this month to economics professor David Brat was unsettling to clients, lobbyists and lawyers said. But McCarthy, who has served under Cantor as the House’s No. 3 Republican since 2011, has the skill to move legislation through a divided Congress, they said.
K&L Gates partner Dan Crowley, who has known McCarthy for 20 years and has raised money for him, described the lawmaker as a “consensus builder who is of the Ronald Reagan mold.”
“He’s very fond of saying, ‘You can’t have too many friends,’ ” Crowley said.
Crowley has a dozen lobbying clients in the financial-services industry, according to congressional records. The list includes Charles Schwab & Co. and the Credit Union National Association.
Although McCarthy is known as an advocate for the energy and technology industries that flourish in his home state of California, Crowley said the financial-services sector would be “smart” to cultivate strong relationships with the lawmaker. Such connections with McCarthy, he said, could help banks as they fight for changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — a major lobbying target for the financial-services industry.
Crowley said he hopes to host a gathering “in the near future” of McCarthy and financial-services clients.
“He’s a friend to industry,” Crowley said of McCarthy, a former small business owner who has served for seven years as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. “He’s a pro-business, free-market Republican.”
At Squire Patton Boggs, lobbyists are preparing their clients for a House with McCarthy as majority leader. Kevin O’Neill, who served as deputy chairman of the public policy department at the Patton Boggs legacy firm, doesn’t expect McCarthy to change much of the substance of what the Republicans do in the House, still led by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. But there could be tweaks to what the chamber does. McCarthy, for instance, could change the timing for certain matters to come before the House, O’Neill said.
Patton Boggs, which boasted the highest grossing lobbing shop among the 2013 Influence 50 — The National Law Journal’s annual survey of revenue in the lobbying industry — has more than 150 lobbying clients, congressional records show. (Squire Patton Boggs has yet to alter the reports to reflect the firm’s name change, which occurred with the June 1 merger of Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders.)
The Patton Boggs client roster includes several big-name clients, including General Electric Co., The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Mars Inc. In the past, O’Neill and other Patton Boggs lobbyists, including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., have held fundraisers for McCarthy at their office and Johnny’s Half Shell, a Capitol Hill restaurant, according to invitations obtained by the government-transparency advocate Sunlight Foundation.
“My colleagues are always impressed with the energy Congressman McCarthy brings to the table,” O’Neill said.
That drive is also well known to Shelby Hagenauer, a senior policy adviser at Nossaman who focuses on industries including financial services and health care. She is among a group of congressional staffers-turned-lobbyists who worked for McCarthy and could become hot commodities for businesses looking for access to the lawmaker. In addition to Hagenauer, who served as McCarthy’s legislative director and advised him on the Dodd-Frank Act, former aides-turned-lobbyists include Stephen Pinkos of the American Continental Group and Erica Elliott of Crowell & Moring. Pinkos was McCarthy’s policy director and general counsel. Elliott was his communications director. Hagenauer, whose clients include MasterCard Inc. and the Con­sumer Data Industry Association, said McCarthy is “accessible” to individuals seeking his attention.
While some firms might see an upswing in lobbying related to McCarthy, one might see an increase in other work tied to the lawmaker. Berke Farah advises McCarthy on ethics and campaign finance issues. Elliot Berke, the firm’s managing partner, said the “phone might ring a little bit more” now that McCarthy is about to become the Republican majority leader. “Elliot’s reputation as a trusted advisor is well deserved,” McCarthy said in a written statement Berke Farah released this month to announce formation of the new firm. “I look forward to continuing to rely on Elliot’s wise counsel.”