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In Step In an effort to expand its lobbying presence, Steptoe & Johnson acquired the Scott Group last week, the spinoff lobby shop from the April merger of Collier Shannon Scott and Kelley Drye. Steptoe’s lobbying practice has a heavy international trade and regulatory practice with clients that include Walt Disney Co., the American Council for Thermal Imaging, and the Canadian Wheat Board. With the addition of the Scott Group, a firm with an equal mix of regulatory and legislative work, Steptoe gains a score of new clients such as the National Association of Convenience Stores, the Tobacco Products Manufacturers Coalition, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and the Financial Services Roundtable. Along with the merger, Steptoe acquires the talents of Scott Sinder, who was on the executive committee of Collier Shannon Scott; R. Timothy Columbus; James Barnette; and Douglas Kantor. All will join as partners. Former Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-Va.), Suzie Brewster, and Leslie Belcher will be named senior advisers for government relations and John Fielding will join as counsel. Kantor says his firm began discussions this fall with Steptoe about a possible merger. He adds that the Scott Group was formed because of some client-conflict issues that arose after the Collier-Kelley merger this spring. “Structurally, we felt we had to make a change,” he says. “That piece is unfortunate.” — Joe Crea
Mitt’s Catches In the political arms race among possible presidential contenders, outgoing Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has brought in some D.C. influence peddlers as part of his Commonwealth PAC. On Dec. 8, Romney named Alberto Cardenas, a lobbyist and name partner of Tew Cardenas, to Commonwealth PAC’s Florida steering committee. Cardenas, a prodigious fund-raiser who served two terms as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and most recently was co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 Florida campaign, will help advise the PAC on fund-raising and political activities in Florida. Romney’s PAC donated $10,500 to congressional candidates and the state Republican Party during the 2006 election cycle, according to a Commonwealth PAC spokesman. Other Washingon lobbyists tapped to assist the PAC: Eric Tanenblatt of McKenna Long & Aldridge and Cesar Conda of DC Navigators. — Anna Palmer
Play Time How many Steptoe & Johnson lawyers can say they’ve worked with such legends as Carol Burnett and Robert Goulet? Well, Ken Ludwig can. Ludwig, who never officially left Steptoe (he’s still considered “of counsel” and remains on the firm letterhead) has had a string of successes as a playwright. Beginning in 1976, Ludwig worked full time at Steptoe for just under a decade and considered his time at the firm his “day job” while he pursued his passion: the theater. Ludwig says he would get up every morning at 4 and write for more than four hours, then put on his suit and head into the office. Ludwig still does some consulting work for Steptoe, roughly once a year, on intellectual property and entertainment-related matters, he says. His first break was in 1986, when Andrew Lloyd Webber asked to produce his play “Lend Me a Tenor.” His biggest hit, however, was the script for 1992′s “Crazy for You,” a musical featuring George Gershwin songs. Ludwig won an Olivier Award for Best New Musical for London’s West End production of the show, which also won the Tony Award for Best Musical that year. He also wrote “Moon Over Buffalo,” which featured Burnett’s return to Broadway after 30 years. The Tony Award-nominated writer’s most recent venture is an adaptation of George Farquhar’s “The Beaux’ Stratagem,” currently playing at the Shakespeare Theatre Company until the end of the year. Playwright Thornton Wilder began adapting the play in 1939 (it was originally written in 1706 by Farquhar) to make it more accessible to modern audiences; with the start of World War II, however, Wilder never finished his work. Flash forward to 2004, when Wilder’s nephew and literary executor discovered the unfinished manuscript and asked Ludwig to complete the adaptation. Despite his successes as a playwright, Ludwig has no plans to move to New York City or London, preferring the confines of D.C. “It’s such a nice place to raise a family,” he says. — Joe Crea
• AFTER DARK • ‘Tis the Season Christmas jazz performed by a live band floated through the air as about 100 people, most of them African-American lobbyists along with government relations workers and members of K Street lobby shops, mingled and dined on freshly prepared pasta and turkey and roast beef dishes at the Capital Hilton on Wednesday night. The cheery atmosphere belied a more serious note that the event’s sponsor, the Washington Government Relations Group, aims to address. In an effort to increase opportunities for African-American lobbyists in Washington, the WGRG planned the group’s first “Meet and Greet with K Street” holiday reception as a way to expose its members to representatives of K Street lobby shops, to let them know that “hey, we’re here,” says Drummer & Associates principal Robert Drummer, past president of the WGRG. Drummer says invitations to the event were sent out to the boards of various D.C. government relations organizations and associations, including the American League of Lobbyists, Women in Government Relations, and the American Society of Association Executives. “We normally just have a private event. Now, we want other people to know we exist,” says Drummer. Other attendees included Henri’ Thompson, managing partner at Henri’ Thompson LLC; Diane Jones of Eastman Kodak Co.; Michael Berger, legislative analyst at BAE Systems; Donna Crews, director of government affairs at AIDS Action Council; and Ropes & Gray attorney and lobbyist Thomas Susman. “There are not enough of us in lobbying and not enough on Capitol Hill really,” says Berger. Susman, who is white, says he “was kind of knocked over” when he walked through the door and saw how many black lobbyists had turned up. Susman says there are less than a dozen black attorneys at Ropes & Gray, where he is partner, out of the hundreds of lawyers. “Before this, I could count on one hand the number of black lobbyists I know,” he says. “And I would still have some fingers left over.” — Osita Iroegbu

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