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King & Spalding has catapulted its Washington government relations efforts to a new level with the addition of former U.S. Sens. Connie Mack and Daniel R. Coats. Mack brings along the five-person government relations practice of Shaw Pittman, while Coats comes fresh from serving as ambassador to Germany. The two former senators will chair the team, which becomes a freestanding practice group. The team from Shaw Pittman includes Andrew Woods, a campaign adviser to President George W. Bush; Thomas J. Spulak, a Democrat whose years of Capitol Hill experience include stints as the lawyer to the U.S. House of Representatives and the House Committee on Rules; Mark Smith, a longtime Mack staffer who served as his chief legislative assistant on health care policy; Viraj Mirani, a government relations adviser; and Claudia Hrvatin, an associate. Smith and Mirani, like Mack, are not lawyers. Mack and Coats will be counsel to the firm, said Walter W. Driver Jr., the firm’s managing partner. Woods joins as senior counsel and Spulak joins as a partner. Mack, who represented Florida in the Senate for 18 years, will continue to head President Bush’s tax reform advisory panel. Like Mack, Coats — who represented Indiana in the House and Senate for a total of 18 years — is a Republican. Driver cautioned about reading anything into their partisan affiliation, however. The firm remains “politically ecumenical,” he said. Mack has been part of Shaw Pittman since leaving the Senate four years ago. He said he’s moving to King & Spalding because Shaw Pittman’s upcoming merger with Pillsbury Winthrop created client conflicts. “There were clients we wanted to remain with and that necessitated making a move,” he said. Mack declined to name those clients. A spokeswoman for the firm, Diane H. Zyats, said an “irreconcilable conflict” arose for Mack and his group because Pillsbury Winthrop has an important aerospace client and so does Mack’s group. The conflict prevented the group from joining the merged firm, she said, adding that Shaw Pittman wishes them the best of luck. Driver said his firm has been talking to Mack for about 15 months. When courting high-profile types, “you never know who will work out and who won’t,” Driver said. “I’m very happy that this did.” The addition of Coats to the group was an unexpected bonus. Coats said Mack, an old friend from their years in the Senate, visited him in Berlin several months ago and the topic of what to do post-ambassadorship came up. Coats had worked with former Senate majority leaders Robert J. Dole (now at Alston & Bird) and George Mitchell at the Washington firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand after leaving the Senate in 1999. He said he and his wife wanted to return to Washington, where they have children and grandchildren, and Mack told him about King & Spalding. “Senator Mack said he was in negotiations with another firm … and he was very high on this firm,” Coats said. Coats met with King & Spalding and was “impressed with the quality of the people, the professionalism and the clients,” he said, adding that he also has great respect for former Sen. Sam Nunn, who recently retired from King & Spalding and whom Coats had served with on the Senate Committee on Armed Services. SHIFTING FOCUS King & Spalding has done government relations work since 1979, but the focus has been white-collar crime and government investigations more than lobbying work — until now. “We’ve always provided government relations and lobbying support to our clients, but until this opportunity presented itself, it has not been a major focus of the office,” said Theodore M. Hester, who has orchestrated the firm’s government relations work since 1983. He represents clients in congressional investigations and works out of the firm’s special matters group. The two senators and the Shaw Pittman team will raise the firm’s profile in more traditional legislative and lobbying activities, Hester said. Mack’s and his group’s health care work fits well with King & Spalding’s focus on health care, biotech and Food and Drug Administration work, said Driver. The firm’s work in those areas “was of great interest to Senator Mack as it is an area of expertise for [his] group,” he said. Mack’s clients include U.S. Oncology, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Junior Achievement, Embraer (a Brazilian jet manufacturer) and Bacardi USA. Coats was interested in the firm’s U.S.-Germany practice. The firm has represented German companies in their U.S. operations as well as German investors in U.S. assets since 1991. Coats said the firm’s sizeable number of German clients, plus its London office, appealed to him after serving three years as ambassador to Germany. “I think there are things I can add to that,” he said. He said he also would like to do investigative work, noting the firm’s long experience in that area under Nunn and Griffin B. Bell, who have led both independent and internal corporate investigations for the firm. HOW MUCH BUSINESS? Driver declined to say how much business the Shaw Pittman group would bring to his firm. “They are great people, and we’re honored to have them,” he said, but the dollar amount of their business was “not material” at an enterprise the size of King & Spalding, which has about 850 lawyers. “Everyone makes a contribution, and no one makes a disproportionate contribution,” he said. Shaw Pittman’s managing partner, Stephen B. Huttler, was unavailable for comment because he was on the road touring the firm’s offices in preparation for the merger with Pillsbury Winthrop, scheduled for April 4.

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