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Elmendorf, Oliver Open Bipartisan Lobbying Shop

Two senior political strategists from opposite sides of the partisan divide are joining forces to create a powerhouse lobby shop and corporate consulting firm.

Steve Elmendorf, the longtime chief of staff to then-Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), and former Republican National Committee Deputy Chairman Jack Oliver will head up Bryan Cave Strategies, a subsidiary of the St. Louis-based law firm by the same name.

“If you want to do anything in Washington, you have to have access to both sides,” Elmendorf said in an interview Tuesday. “You not only need to know how the parties work but also the [workings] of the administration versus Congress.”

“We want to work on a bipartisan basis for the people of Missouri and their interests,” Oliver echoed.

The two men were introduced in December 2004 by Bobby Koch, brother-in-law of President Bush and a former chief of staff to Gephardt.

Elmendorf served as a senior adviser to Gephardt for 12 years before serving as deputy campaign manager for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s (D) presidential bid in 2004; prior to his stint at the RNC, Oliver worked hand-in-hand with Missouri Sens. John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, John Danforth and Jim Talent.

“We have the Ashcroft/Gephardt and the Bush/Kerry pedigree, which is good,” Elmendorf said.

The new group will have dual bases in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, with both men rotating between the offices. In Washington, they will worˆk out of Bryan Cave’s offices on 13th Street.

Neither Elmendorf nor Oliver would discuss the firm’s client list.

Prior to working for Kerry, Elmendorf had signed up several lobbying clients, including the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and Fannie Mae.

According to reports filed with the Secretary of the Senate, ATLA paid Elmendorf $80,000 in 2003; he was paid $40,000 in 2003 by Fannie Mae.

In January, Elmendorf picked up Verizon as a client and retains Fannie Mae as well.

Oliver has not previously been a registered lobbyist. He is also expected to have an affiliation with the investment bank Lehman Brothers, according to an informed source.

Its primary focus will be on lobbying and corporate consulting, but both Elmendorf and Oliver are expected to keep their toes in the political waters.

“Jack and I separately will remain very involved in politics on a volunteer basis,” confirmed Elmendorf.

Bryan Cave Strategies follows the recent trend of bipartisan lobbying groups.

The founding partners of Quinn Gillespie and Associates are former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and Jack Quinn, a former top aide to the Clinton White House counsel.

Established in 2000, Quinn Gillespie has rapidly emerged as a leading lobbying firm, with $12 million in total fees in 2004. It placed No. 14 on Roll Call’s list of the top lobbying firms of 2004.

Another recently minted bipartisan firm, PodestaMattoon, has enjoyed similar financial success.

Founded in 2001 by Tony Podesta, a former aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Dan Mattoon, a confidant of Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), PodestaMattoon reported $11.3 million in fees in 2004 — good for No. 15 on Roll Call’s list.

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