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Breaux Joins Patton Boggs, 2 New York Financial Firms

Former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) has joined the Washington lobbying and law firm Patton Boggs, ending a long and heated competition for the 32-year veteran lawmaker who was considered a top prize among retiring lawmakers.

Breaux began work Monday at the bipartisan firm, where he was given the title of senior counsel. But the moderate ex-Senator will also divide his time among three other ventures.

He has accepted positions with two New York-based firms — Riverstone Holdings, a Carlyle Group subsidiary that focuses on the energy sector, and the Clinton Group, a hedge fund company unaffiliated with former president Bill Clinton.

In addition, the White House announced last week that it was naming Breaux co-chairman of an advisory panel studying tax reform.

None of the firms disclosed what they would be paying Breaux, and the newly retired Louisianan was unavailable for comment.

But Patton Boggs managing partner Stuart Pape said he expected the former lawmaker to spend half of his time working for the lobbying and law firm.

A lobbying ban on retired Members forbids Breaux from directly trying to influence his former colleagues for the next year, though he can stay in touch with them.

“That’s not really an impediment,” Pape said, “because the highest value he has is in providing strategic advice and counsel” — activities that are permitted under federal law for recent retirees like Breaux.

He added that Breaux will probably focus on health care, energy and telecommunications issues and will avoid work on tax policy as long as he serves on the president’s commission.

Breaux was assigned no quotas for recruiting new clients, Pape said, though he expects the lawmaker to be “a magnet.”

The firm is hardly hurting for clients. It collected $15.2 million in revenue for the first half of 2004, making it the top-earning firm on K Street.

Firm chairman and fellow Louisianan Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr., praised Breaux in a statement.

“His strong record of bipartisan statesmanship and his knowledge and experience across a broad ranges of issues will be tremendous assets to us,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Breaux was already dealing with the new demands on his time: He left his M Street offices at Patton Boggs for a meeting at the White House on tax reform.

Rumors had circulated since 2003 that Breaux would start a lobbying firm with fellow Senate retiree Don Nickles (R-Okla.). A shop headlined by the former Senate GOP Whip and the wily Democratic deal maker from Louisiana attracted so much buzz that it was even mentioned on the short-lived HBO series “K Street,” in a scene starring Breaux’s lobbyist son, John Breaux Jr.

Nickles told Roll Call in December that he did not rule out the possibility of working with Breaux in the future, saying it “would be for him to announce” if it happens.

Meanwhile, in other personnel news, Toyota Motor North America announced today that it was adding two lobbyists to its Washington operation.

The two are Mark Johnson, who most recently served as chief of staff to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and David Vennett, who served as chief of staff for the 2004 G-8 Summit of industrialized nations in Sea Island, Ga.

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