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Expect Lazio Sightings on Capitol Hill

Former New York Rep. Rick Lazio (R) says his old Capitol Hill co-workers can expect to start seeing more of him in the new year. [IMGCAP(1)]

Lazio, the man whom then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y) beat out for her Senate seat in 2000, has also started to increase his TV and radio appearances in recent months.

But whether he’s contemplating a possible full-time return to Washington, D.C., someday is another matter.

After being hired this past fall as executive vice president of global government relations and public policy of JPMorgan Chase, Lazio has spent the past few months developing a plan to put a new face on the Hill efforts of the trillion dollar financial service powerhouse — his.

Lazio said that he is ready to move ahead with an agenda that will thrust him into a much more active lobbying and public role than he has had in the past four years.

“It’s going to be a busy legislative cycle for financial services because of the president’s agenda,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lazio is still in the process of helping recruit his successor at the

Financial Services Forum — an umbrella organization where he has been serving as president and CEO since losing to Clinton in the most expensive race in New York state history.

While Lazio helped steer the 20-member Financial Services Forum toward more of a role as a think tank since its organization in February 2000, he will now head up a lobbying shop that boasted more than $6.5 million in lobbying expenditures last year.

Acknowledging the increased lobbying capacity that JPMorgan offers, Lazio said that “in one sense it is easier because you are representing one firm as opposed to the Forum where you are considering the interests of 20 companies.”

He said that at JPMorgan his goal is to use his eight years of Congressional experience and financial expertise — learned while serving on both the Energy and Commerce Committee and what was then known as the Banking Committee — to develop a reputation among Members as someone who is easy to deal with and who can relate to the way Congress does its business.

“At JPMorgan we want to be perceived as a place for policy makers to think through options early on, to help with policy development and not just come in and advocate for an outcome,” he said.

Lazio said he expects to be in D.C. on a weekly basis beginning in January but also said that his company will be very involved in European Union directives and will search for business opportunities in Asia.

And while he would perhaps like to be on the receiving end of lobbyists’ entreaties again some day, Lazio said he’s committed to his new role at JPMorgan for the time being.

“Perhaps at some point in my life I’d like to be able to contribute [as an elected official] again,” he said.

Lazio’s friends aren’t counting out an eventual political comeback for the 46-year-old Long Island lawyer — maybe even a return to Congress.

“If the cards were right Rick would be a good candidate for us again,” said New York Republican Party Chairman Stephen Minarik III, who enjoys a close relationship with Lazio. “I think Rick did a good job in his Senate run. It was an uphill battle and he had a good showing. … I don’t think its going to happen any time soon, but it could be in the cards again someday.”

In the meantime Lazio said he will continue to be on television and speak out on public affairs, taking a public stance on issues beyond just the financial in nature.

“My new company understands that,” he said.

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