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Ex-Whip Gray Joins Buchanan Ingersoll

Former House Majority Whip William Gray III (D-Pa.), along with his son and a longtime aide, has joined the expanding D.C. legislative practice of Buchanan Ingersoll, a Pennsylvania-based law firm.

Gray, who spent 13 years as president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund, will serve as Buchanan Ingersoll’s head of public policy and business diversity.

His son, Justin Gray, and his one-time Congressional chief of staff, Jon Plebani, have signed on as directors in federal government relations.

“It will be a challenge to be part of a young, growing practice,” said Gray, who plans to work on Buchanan Ingersoll client matters from D.C., Miami and Philadelphia.

Gray said he was first approached by a headhunter to give some names of people who might be good candidates for Buchanan Ingersoll’s lobbying practice. Later, the firm’s higher-ups asked Gray if he would be interested in joining.

“We talked for about a month about it,” Gray said. “They were very convincing.”

Gray will move his clients from a start-up firm he had recently founded with Plebani and Justin Gray called the Amani Group. Gray’s clients included the Philadelphia School District, the Academy of Radiology Research and the Committee for the Modernization and Protection of America’s Social Security.

Gray also serves on the board of directors of such companies as JP Morgan Chase, Pfizer and Dell Inc. and is a pastor at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

Before starting the Amani Group, Gray last October joined the Loeffler Group, the firm of former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas), where Plebani also worked. Plebani, an adviser to then-President Bill Clinton, also served as staff director to Gray, when the Congressman was chairman of the House Budget Committee. Gray is no longer a senior adviser there, but he said he plans to work with the Loeffler Group on some matters.

So far this year, Buchanan Ingersoll has added former Rep. Jon Christensen (R-Neb.) and longtime lobbyist Paul Quinn, who hailed from Perkins Smith and Cohen.

“We really want to have — and you don’t do it overnight — a first-tier government affairs practice,” said Ronald Platt, who has headed Buchanan Ingersoll’s federal government relations practice since August 2004. Platt added that the firm’s revenue target is $15 million a year by 2007.

Platt said he thought Gray and his colleagues would make a perfect fit because of their Pennsylvania roots. He also said Gray was a standout Member while in Congress. “He was a guy who was clearly a star,” said Platt.

And Platt said he sees that same star potential as a lobbyist. “Bill is not in the office these first two days, because they are out meeting with potential new clients. We will be growing aggressively,” he said.

Gray’s official start date is May 1.

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