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Former Senate Democratic leader Thomas Daschle is joining Alston & Bird’s Washington government relations practice. Daschle, who is not a lawyer, will serve as “special policy adviser” in the firm’s legislative and public policy group, the firm said Monday. Senate ethics rules bar Daschle, who lost his re-election bid in November, from lobbying Congress for one year. Former Sen. Robert J. Dole, a Republican, contacted Daschle, a Democrat, right after November’s election to invite him to join the firm, said Alston & Bird’s managing partner, Ben F. Johnson III. Dole, who is a lawyer, joined Alston & Bird two years ago and serves as special counsel. The Washington government relations practice is a relatively new initiative for the firm, said Johnson. “Until Bob Dole joined us, we were not on the radar in terms of public policy,” he said. Alston & Bird started developing the practice in 1999 with the addition of Thomas M. Boyd, a former assistant U.S. attorney general under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Boyd heads the practice. Other notable hires at the firm include former Medicaid chief Thomas A. Scully, a Republican, and Jonathan M. Winer, who served in the Clinton administration as a deputy assistant secretary of state and spent 10 years before that as a lawyer and adviser to Sen. John F. Kerry. Johnson said Alston has focused on building the national visibility of its Washington practice “as a way of demonstrating that we’re more than just a Southeastern law firm.” In Washington, that means public policy, he added. The Democratic and Republican r�sum�s of Daschle and Dole should be a powerful combination for the firm’s developing government relations practice, Johnson said. “Senator Dole has said that he has a lot of friends in the Senate, and Senator Daschle has a lot of friends in the Senate, and between the two of them they hope that they have 51,” Johnson said. Adding a Democrat to the practice is important strategically, even though the Democrats are out of power in Congress, he said. “Any long-term public policy solutions that endure need to be bipartisan.” It is too soon to say if Daschle ever will lobby for the firm. The former senator will focus on “strategic planning on the public policy front,” Johnson said. “I would be surprised if he ever engaged in much direct lobbying.” But, Johnson said, Dole is registered as a lobbyist for some of the firm’s clients. Daschle’s primary workplace will be Alston & Bird, Johnson said, but the former senator also will continue public policy efforts that are of personal interest. He also will be associated with a private equity fund called Intermedia Partners, which specializes in media investments.

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