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Fordham Hangs a Shingle Being embroiled in a sex scandal might seem like a r�sum� killer for an ex-Capitol Hill aide looking for work, but it hasn’t seemed to hurt Kirk Fordham, longtime chief of staff to disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.). Fordham, who recently started his own lobby shop, Rock Creek Strategies, has already landed a big assignment: working for the gay group Log Cabin Republicans. “We’re delighted to have someone with such impressive Hill experience with great contacts,” says LCR President Patrick Sammon. “He really knows how to move legislation forward.” Fordham’s former boss, Foley, resigned from Congress last fall after his conduct with male teenage House pages became public. However, Fordham insists that the scandal has actually helped strengthen his relationships with Republicans on the Hill. “Throughout the whole process, I received an enormous amount of encouragement from Republican leaders and their staff and, in the end, the [House] Ethics Committee strengthened my credibility,” he says, referring to a House report on the scandal that largely lauded Fordham’s effort to bring Foley’s conduct under control. Fordham, who is gay as well as a veteran Republican, is working with the LCR to secure Republican votes for hate crimes legislation and for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Since the 2004 election, when the LCR not only declined to endorse President George W. Bush’s re-election effort but mounted an offensive attacking the Republican Party over its support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, there has been some tension between the group and Republican lawmakers. Fordham is seen as someone who can help heal the rift and secure immediate access to many Republican offices. His new venture, Rock Creek Strategies, is not Fordham’s first foray on K Street. Shortly after working as Sen. Mel Martinez’s (R-Fla.) finance director in 2005, he joined DCI Group, where he worked on public-affairs campaigns in targeted states. In his new capacity, he’ll be doing similar work. He declined to name the clients for whom he’s running stealth campaigns, but would say that they are in the pharmaceutical and energy sectors. He has also registered to lobby for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers on financial services matters. — Joe Crea
Cassidy Answers It was bold, flashy, a bit aggressive and successful too. Kind of like a typical Cassidy & Associates lobbying campaign — which is exactly what it was. Nearly three years ago, when veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Kaiser began an extensive profile of the firm and its founder, Gerald Cassidy, lobbyists at the venerable shop didn’t know what to expect — other than that it would be a 25-plus-part series, the bulk of which would appear on the newspaper’s Web site. “We did what we would advise any client to do; mount a good defense and go on the offense,” says Gregg Hartley, vice chairman and chief operating officer of the firm. Indeed they did. Shortly before the series debuted in March, the firm launched a blog, “Capitol Journal: A Personal Blog by Gerry Cassidy,” which soon became a kind of running commentary on the Post series. To get the word out, the firm purchased an online banner that ran across the top of Kaiser’s series. It featured a photo of Cassidy standing in front of the Capitol, arms folded, looking stern, with the text “Gerry Cassidy’s Online Journal. Insight. Perspective. Like No One Else.” Tom Alexander, a spokesman for the firm, says that the Post series generated a big increase in traffic to Cassidy’s blog, which proved to be an effective tool in getting the paper to issue corrections. For example, the newspaper reported that Cassidy and his wife Loretta chose not to have children because they were more concerned with acquiring wealth. Cassidy’s blog refuted that claim, and the paper printed a correction shortly after. “It showed us how critical it was to have that be a part of our strategy,” says Alexander of the blog. So critical that it will continue to be a part of the firm’s communications strategy. “It was an unfiltered mechanism for us to protect our brand,” notes Alexander. For his part, Kaiser says that he never got involved in any newsroom discussions over the ethics of having the advertisement appear over his series. “I believe in free expression and believe in money for the Post,” Kaiser says. “The ad didn’t bother me, but I think it bothered some people [in the newsroom].” — Joe Crea
How Levinson Leaves K. Riva Levinson, a 20-year veteran of BKSH & Associates and founder of the firm’s international practice, left recently to start her own shop, KRL International. “If not now, when?” Levinson says of her decision to leave BKSH. KRL, which launched in January, started with two long-term clients, the Iraq Memory Foundation and the government of the Republic of Liberia. While at BKSH, Levinson specialized in matters pertaining to the Liberian government. She helped run the successful campaign of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who became the first elected female head of state in Africa in 2005 when she assumed the presidency of Liberia. “It’s a big loss for the firm,” says BKSH President Charles Black. “She was a real star.” Levinson is joined by Molly McKew, KRL’s director for research and marketing efforts. McKew was a former research program manager of the foreign and defense policy studies department of the American Enterprise Institute. — Joe Crea
Visiting Royalties What’s Big Oil to do when Congress throws down the gauntlet, trying to limit offshore drilling and close a decade-old loophole that gives the industry a multibillion-dollar break on royalty payments? Well, if the companies are savvy and have deep pockets — as BHP Billiton Petroleum, Repsol E&P USA, and Total E&P USA do — they form the Ad Hoc Deep Water Exploration & Production Coalition and hire lobbyists from Patton Boggs to make their case on Capitol Hill. So far the new group has signed on heavyweights Thomas Boggs Jr., former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), Fred Hatfield, and Jeffrey Turner to help fight legislation that would limit the ability of oil companies to explore and produce oil and gas in the deep waters off the U.S. coast, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico. As promised, in its first 100 hours, the Democratic Congress moved to roll back a 1996 agreement that gave oil companies a $10 billion break on royalty payments from production on federal lands. The proposed legislation limits oil companies’ ability to drill if they don’t agree to pay the government fair royalties. The new Congress also reworked legislation passed last year that expanded exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. But the oil companies have found a possible ally in the Senate, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is sponsoring an alternative bill that would offer three-year lease extensions to companies that agree to begin paying royalties to the government. This isn’t the only offshore option companies have been pushing recently — BHP’s effort to build a multimillion-dollar natural-gas terminal off the coast of Southern California was rejected by the California State Lands Commission last week. — Osita Iroegbu
• HEARD ON THE STREET • • “Without a doubt, it was the [GOP] leadership that kept it from happening. . . . There’s new leadership now.” — Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union, on GOP leaders blocking agriculture disaster funding at the president’s urging in the 109th Congress (CQ Today) • “I think it’s an important vote to let the American people know: Will Republicans act like Republicans, or will it be business as usual? The last thing we need to have is what the Heritage Foundation and others have said is the largest earmark in history.” — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), trying to rally Republicans against the $1.5 billion earmark for the D.C. Metro (Roll Call) • “�Trust us’ doesn’t cut it when it comes to the government’s power to obtain Americans’ sensitive business records without a court order and without any suspicion that they are tied to terrorism or espionage.” — Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), during a subcommittee hearing on the government’s secret anti-terrorism investigations (Associated Press)

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