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Phase Two

Former Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), who retired at the end of the 109th Congress, and ex-Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), who was defeated for re-election, are both closing in on new careers in the private sector.

A source close to the American Enterprise Institute said Thomas is in talks to join the conservative think tank as a part-time scholar. An AEI spokeswoman said she could neither confirm nor deny any arrangement.

In addition, Thomas has set up an office at 1220 L St. NW, which is where the American Petroleum Institute is located, according to an e-mail sent by his former scheduler Renee Edelen. The phone number connected with the office says callers can leave messages for Thomas, Edelen or Alex Brill, a former Ways and Means aide. A person who returned a message said Thomas has not yet announced his future plans publicly and could not comment. [IMGCAP(1)]

However, several sources who said they were familiar with Thomas’ plans said the former chairman intends to start a consulting practice, at which Thomas would not do shoe-leather lobbying.

Pombo, who was ousted from his solidly conservative district amid a backlash against his aggressive championing of natural resource extraction, is inching closer to a career working for those interests.

The former House Resources chairman is in talks with Pac/West Communications, an Oregon-based PR and lobbying firm that has a roster of timber and energy clients.

“We’re in discussions, and we’re excited about it, but we’re continuing our discussions,” Pac/West president Paul Phillips said. “He’s an immense talent, and it would be a great addition.”

The firm already has inked a deal with Pombo’s former staff director, Steve Ding, to open a California office in the state capital of Sacramento. Phillips said that Ding would be working on “national issues relevant to his experience” and helping the firm conduct “integrated communications campaigns.” He said the clients will be from the natural resources sector, but he declined to name them.

Ding confirmed that he would be working for the firm. Pombo could not be reached for comment.

Foreign Agent Files. With trade pacts and other key legislative issues on the line, there seems to be little shortage of foreign government work to go around Washington, D.C., lobbying shops.

The firm Johnson Madigan Peck Boland & Stewart has signed up to represent ProExport Colombia to help advise the client on ways “to build support in the Congress” for a trade agreement between the United States and Colombia. ProExport Colombia will pay $51,000, according to the contract filed with the Justice Department. The pact, the contract adds, “is of vital importance” to Colombia.

In the meantime, the government of the Togolese Republic has tapped the Whitaker Group for a whopping $500,000 a year to lobby and provide other advocacy services, according to a Department of Justice contract.

And the firm Jones Day has filed to represent the embassy of China to monitor and report on “Congressional developments and activities” for a quarterly retainer of $45,000.

K Street Moves. Justin LeBlanc, who most recently was with the federal relations practice at the PNW public relations firm, and Chris Fidler, who directed federal government affairs for the carrier Airborne Express, have joined the Petrizzo Strategic Group, the new firm established by T.J. Petrizzo. Both will be principals in the firm.

“Justin and Chris are phenomenal additions to our team,” Petrizzo said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Petrizzo’s former firm, the Bockorny Group, has also added a new lobbyist. Chuck Crowders, vice president and head of global government affairs for Avaya Inc., has signed on to Bockorny’s tax and technology practice.

• The firm Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville is adding a new partner as of Feb. 1: Robert Silverstein, is joining the public policy practice, which already includes former Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.). Silverstein will focus on education, social security and civil rights issues.

• Paul Brathwaite, executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, is leaving Capitol Hill for the Podesta Group, the shop founded by Tony Podesta. Brathwaite said that he intends to focus on telecommunications, financial services, health care and transportation clients.

“It’s a great time to take on this type of opportunity given the results of the last election, and personally for me, it’s a new professional challenge,” he said.

• Michael Waxman, who founded his own firm, Waxman Consulting, is joining Hyde Park Communications as a vice president.

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