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A year ago, the Republican-controlled Congress was advancing business-backed initiatives on energy, asbestos, and telecom. And with Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) ruling the House, the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group was along for the lucrative ride, representing clients such as the U.S. Telecom Association, energy giant Southern Co., and the Asbestos Study Group. In January, amid the fall of Jack Abramoff, the firm, which at times worked closely with the ex-lobbyist, closed up shop after seeing blue-chip clients such as Fannie Mae, Microsoft Corp., and Eli Lilly & Co. head out the door. News for the firm’s lobbyists got worse as one of its top rainmakers, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and violating the one-year lobbying prohibition. And with Alexander Strategy founder Edwin Buckham still under investigation in connection with the Abramoff corruption probe, how much the Justice Department’s investigation will continue to pick the bones of the shuttered firm remains to be seen. Yet since Alexander Strategy’s closure, its lobbyists have found homes on K Street at firms eager to pick up star power and clients, despite some skepticism about whether they’d be able to continue to work in a trade where reputation is everything. But not everyone has enjoyed a soft landing. Rudy and Buckham remain MIA downtown. Rudy, for one, appears to be preparing for a life outside the Beltway. Last week he filed an unopposed motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to “reside with his family outside the Washington, D.C. area.” Though the court hasn’t yet ruled on whether Rudy may leave — his original conditions for release mandated that he stay in the Washington area — the former lobbyist has sold one residence in the District and bought another in California. Rudy’s attorney, Laura Miller of Nixon Peabody, did not return calls. For the former Alexander Strategy lobbyists who have landed elsewhere on K Street, the transition hasn’t been entirely smooth. “It’s a little slow and I understand that, particularly given the circumstances of [his] leaving and what happened at that firm,” says Ronald Platt, the head of Buchanan Ingersoll‘s lobbying practice, about former Alexander Strategy lobbyist Terry Haines’ transition to Buchanan. “But I think things are happening that will correct that pretty quickly.” Haines, a financial services lobbyist and lawyer, continues to lobby for Freddie Mac and has taken on firm clients such as PNC Bank Corp. According to Senate lobbying disclosure records, Haines has not publicly registered to lobby on behalf of any clients at Buchanan. “To me this is a completely different kind of opportunity,” says Haines. “What’s interesting for me is really to help build this government affairs practice.” Allison Shulman and Paul Behrends followed Haines’ lead earlier this spring and left the battered firm. Neither had been at Alexander Strategy for more than a year and were able to separate themselves from their scandal-ridden colleagues. Shulman went to Dickstein Shapiro, while Behrends headed to Crowell & Moring’s C&M Capitollink. “She wasn’t there that long; she wasn’t part of the DeLay group,” Andrew Zausner, head of Dickstein Shapiro’s public policy practice, says about Shulman. Longtime Alexander Strategy lobbyists have had a harder time finding work. Mike Mihalke and John Powell hung out their own shingle recently. Mihalke, a former aide to Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), and Powell, a former head of the Seniors Coalition, started Meridian Strategies, which focuses on grass-roots organizing. The firm does not have any registered lobbying clients. Mihalke did not return calls, and Powell declined to comment. Senior lobbyists including Terry Allen, Daniel Gans, and Edward Stewart have all started their own enterprises. Unlike some of their colleagues, Gans and Amelia Blackwood, also a former Alexander Strategy lobbyist, have kept all of their lobbying clients since opening shop in January. In their new operation, Polaris Government Relations, they continue to lobby for companies such as BellSouth Corp., Southern Co., and Xcel Energy Inc. “We’re looking forward, not backwards,” Gans says. He declined to comment on moving from Alexander Strategy. Allen, a former chief of staff to ex-Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.), started a solo shop, trading on his background in working with faith-based groups and the technology industry to score clients. So far, Microsoft Corp., the Consumer Electronics Association, and the Coalition to Preserve the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act — all former Alexander Strategy clients — have made the jump with Allen. He has also taken on new clients, including Alabama-based law firm Balch & Bingham. Allen also secured at least one client, Vyta Corp., that he and Buckham were trying to get to sign on to Alexander Strategy. Paul Metzinger, chief executive and president of Vyta, says he didn’t have any worries about working with Allen after the firm collapsed. “I have a very high opinion of both of those gentlemen as well as [of] their competency,” Metzinger says. Ex-Alexander Strategy lobbyist Stewart, who also was a member of groups such as the Malaysia Exchange Association and the Korea-United States Exchange Council, which have come under scrutiny in the Abramoff probe, has joined a small lobby and consulting shop, Mita Group, along with former tech executives Jim Hunt and Ben Turner and GOP operative Bill Harris.
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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