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Darling’s Next Chapter

Brian Darling, the former aide to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) who resigned last month after allegedly authoring a memo on the politics of the Terri Schiavo case, has made his way back to K Street. [IMGCAP(1)]

The one-time lobbyist with the Alexander Strategy Group is now operating solo, and he’s just signed up the law firm Sprenger and Lang as a client. The firm is looking to enforce judgments under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The memo situation, he added, “is all behind me.” Darling said while he is focused on lobbying now, he isn’t ruling out any other career options.

Darling is barred from lobbying Martinez’s office for a year.

Slipping Popularity. A Gallup poll conducted May 2-5 found that just 35 percent of Americans approve and 57 percent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job — the lowest approval and highest disapproval for Congress since July 1997.

Even Republican respondents approved of Congress by just a 49 percent to 45 percent margin. Democrats disapproved, 62 percent to 28 percent, while independents disapproved, 66 percent to 26 percent.

In addition, more than 8 in 10 respondents termed it a “moderately serious” ethical problem for Members of Congress to go on a trip funded by a lobbyist.

Leaving the Chamber. William Morley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of Congressional affairs through early April, has signed his first new client as the head of MWW’s Washington office: his old employer.

When Morley left the organization to become the public relations and lobbying firm’s managing director and senior vice president, he was told by Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue that he would do whatever he could to help. “My first day, I got a call, and it was the chamber offering a contract,” Morley said. “I was honored to get the call.”

Morley, who also worked for Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), said he’ll work on legal reform and passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement for the Chamber of Commerce, as well as broad strategic advice.

Morley added that he’s got growth plans for the firm. “Our plan is to double the size of our office within the year, and we’ve got full support of our headquarters to do that,” he said.

— Kate Ackley and Louis Jacobson

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