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Matt Schlapp, the White House’s political director, is leaving to take a job as top lobbyist for Koch Industries, a Kansas-based energy firm.

Schlapp, who starts Feb. 20, will lead the firm’s roughly 10-person Washington office on tax, transportation and environmental issues, among others.

He said Koch Industries “has a strong commitment to principled action in the field of public policy. That’s why I’m excited to join the Koch team.”

He joins two other recent hires there: Rebecca Hawes, an aide to former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), who will be lobbying for the company, and Lacye Tennille, who joins the team as political action committee director after a stint at the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

At Koch, Schlapp will be working for a company that is deeply sympathetic to President Bush. Through foundations, the Koch (pronounced “coke”) family has poured millions into supporting conservative and libertarian causes, including a decades-old effort by the Cato Institute to promote privatizing Social Security — an issue that is now one of Bush’s top priorities.

The Kochs also gave more than $10 million to create and sustain the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, an institute that casts a skeptical eye at government regulation.

Schlapp, a native of Wichita, Kan., joined the Bush administration in 2000 after serving as chief of staff for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).

A spokeswoman for the company declined to discuss Schlapp’s compensation.

— Tory Newmyer

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