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Blank Rome is a relative newcomer to the Washington game of power and politics, but it’s a game that has been played for a long time. Campaign contributions are only part of the equation. Relationships can mean just as much. “It’s a nexus,” says Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political science professor who has written about lobbying. “It has to do with money to be sure, but also has to do with past personal relationships.” Take, for example, the lobbying juggernaut Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, home to three of President George W. Bush’s top fund-raisers, including a close friend, James Langdon. Langdon raised more than $100,000 for Bush in 2000, and after the election was appointed to the Department of Energy transition team and to the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. An energy lawyer, Langdon counts Russian oil company Lukoil among his clients. The Texas native registered in 2002 to lobby for Alpharetta, Ga.-based ChoicePoint, a data-gathering company that helps companies comply with the USA Patriot Act, signed into law in 2001. That year, ChoicePoint, a firm client, secured an $11 million contract from the Department of Justice to provide the government with access to its database, which includes millions of information dossiers on private citizens, including Social Security numbers and employment histories. Another example is the Los Angeles-based firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which counts a number of high-profile Bush administration appointees as partners. They include former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who argued the Florida recount case for Bush in the Supreme Court, and Eugene Scalia, who served as solicitor at the Department of Labor after a recess appointment by Bush, but who was not confirmed by the Senate. Bush’s nomination of partner Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was also blocked by Democrats. The firm has behind-the-scenes Republican power brokers as well, including William Kilberg, who has raised more than $200,000 for the president’s re-election campaign, and brought in at least $100,000 for Bush in 2000. The labor lawyer’s clients have included General Dynamics Corp., UPS, Boeing Co. and Merrill Lynch. In 2001, Congress repealed Clinton-era rules on repetitive-stress injuries. The Bush administration’s new rules, introduced last year, called for voluntary industry guidelines, rather than requiring employers to take corrective actions. It was a victory for Kilberg, who represents employers and whose firm lobbied in opposition of the earlier, stricter rules.

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