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Johnson Motors to New Gig

Lee Johnson, chief of staff to Senate GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), has left Capitol Hill for the blue chip Chicago-based law firm Winston & Strawn, where he will be of counsel.

The 50-year-old Johnson, who graduated from Vanderbilt University and the University of Alabama Law School, is an avid motorcyclist and amateur historian.

Johnson was recruited for his current job by former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson (R) and former Rep. Beryl Anthony (D-Ark.).

“After speaking with [Thompson and Anthony], I decided this was the best fit for me,” said Johnson, who has very close ties to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and the rest of the GOP team. “I hope to add to the really good team they already have over here and help build on it.”

Johnson broke into politics in 1978, working on the unsuccessful Senate campaign of former Rep. James Martin (R-N.C.).

He then went to work for the Republican National Committee, later becoming legal counsel to then-Rep. J. Kenneth Robinson (R-Va.). After another year at the RNC, he worked on former Rep. Louis “Skip” Bafalis’ (R-Fla.) losing campaign for the Sunshine State’s governor’s mansion.

Johnson worked as a lobbyist for two years in Florida, did another stint at the RNC, then served as legal counsel to the Building Owners and Managers Association before moving to the Federal Trade Commission.

In 1989, Johnson returned to Congress as Rep. Clay Shaw’s (R-Fla.) chief of staff, a job he held until 1994. He was later recruited by then-Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) to serve as his leadership chief of staff.

Johnson joined Mack’s staff during the middle of then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, which he now calls a “mind-blowing” experience. Following Mack’s retirement in 2000, Johnson went on to work as Hutchison’s top aide.

Faso Signs On. Former New York state Assembly Minority Leader John J. Faso has joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP as a partner in the firm’s government advocacy and policy division.

Faso will divide his time between Manatt’s offices in New York City, Albany and Washington. He has also signed on with the New York PR firm Ruder Finn as a senior adviser for public affairs.

Faso was first elected to the New York Assembly in 1986, rising to Minority Leader by 1998. He left the Assembly last year to run for New York state comptroller, narrowly losing to Democrat Alan Hevesi.

Charles Manatt is a former Democratic National Committee chairman and one-time U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic. The firm’s clients range from BellSouth Corp. to Dole Food Co. to Oracle Corp.

White House’s Loss, Honeywell’s Gain. Christine Ciccone, a special assistant to President Bush for legislative affairs, has signed on with Honeywell International Inc. as vice president for government relations.

Ciccone, a Granite State native, first came to Capitol Hill in 1988 as an aide to then-Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.).

She then became a top staffer for current Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), serving in a variety of posts for the veteran lawmaker, including deputy staff director on the Governmental Affairs Committee, deputy chief counsel for the Rules and Administration Committee and finally assistant staff director at the powerful Appropriations Committee.

The 38-year-old Ciccone joined the White House legislative shop soon after Bush took office. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and George Washington University Law School.

Neary Isn’t Far From the Hill. Stacey Neary, a former aide to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), has joined the firm Sher & Blackwell.

Neary was the director of research and media relations for Barbara Franklin Enterprises, the firm owned by Barbara Hackman Franklin, former Commerce secretary.

Neary worked on appropriations, banking and trade issues for Hagel.

She is a Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University, where she received a degree in political science.

Hunton & Williams Adds One. Gary Messplay has joined Hunton & Williams as counsel on the firm’s resources, regulatory and environmental law team.

Messplay was counsel for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., and his experience in dealing with the Food & Drug Administration was a major plus for Hunton & Williams.

Prior to joining Eli Lilly, Messplay worked for an Indiana law firm on product liability litigation for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.

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