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His Own Man

Perhaps it’s the start of yet another wave of Democratic lobbyists looking to start their own businesses: Rich Tarplin, who has spent seven years with the bipartisan firm Timmons and Company, will start off 2008 with his own lobbying and consulting shop. [IMGCAP(1)]

“My intention is to represent a small number of clients and really give them intensive customized services,” said Tarplin, whose registered lobbying clients at Timmons include the Vanguard Group, the American Medical Association and Union Pacific. Tarplin would not comment on which, if any, of the clients would follow him to his new venture. “Having a small number of clients will enable me to do more strategic planning and policy development in addition to the lobbying.”

Tarplin has been the chairman of the board and co-managing director at Timmons. Before joining the firm, he served as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for legislation during President Bill Clinton’s administration. On the Hill, Tarplin worked for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who now is the chairman of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.

Larry Harlow, Timmons’ president and CEO, said the firm did not have any imminent plans to replace Tarplin but will eventually bring on another Democrat to fill the slot. “It’s nothing we’re going to rush into,” Harlow said. “I think we’re in awfully good shape with our current lineup of Democrats.” He added that he and his Timmons colleagues “are excited and happy for Rich.”

Although Tarplin said he plans to start off his firm as a solo operation, he said it will grow over time.

Conspiracy Charges. Former Rep. Curt Weldon’s (R-Pa.) chief of staff is expected to plead guilty Friday to a conspiracy charge for helping a consulting firm pursue federal contracts in exchange for payments.

According to a charging document filed by the Justice Department in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Russell James Caso failed to report on his 2005 financial disclosure forms $19,000 in payments to his wife from a nonprofit consulting firm of which Weldon was an adviser.

At Weldon’s direction, Caso helped the group arrange meetings with federal agencies to press for funding for the group’s proposed projects to enhance U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense and weapons nonproliferation, according to the DOJ document.

The charging document makes no suggestion that Weldon was aware of the arrangement between Caso and the group.

— Kate Ackley and Paul Singer

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