K Street Files: Bonham Jumping to Steptoe & Johnson

Posted October 6, 2008 at 6:41pm

The law firm Steptoe & Johnson didn’t have much of a lobbying presence until the end of 2006, when it recruited a dozen-member team from Collier Shannon Scott. The firm’s lobbying binge hasn’t stopped.

[IMGCAP(1)]Steptoe’s most recent acquisition is lobbyist Jim Bonham, a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the former chief of staff for the late Rep. Bob Matsui (D-Calif.). Bonham, most recently a lobbyist at Brown Rudnick, is bringing several of his clients to his new firm, including Baxter Healthcare and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

“Steptoe is very clearly building to be the market leader,” Bonham said of his decision to leave Brown Rudnick for Steptoe. One of Steptoe’s lobbyists, Timothy Columbus, is a former colleague from Matsui’s office. Bonham said Columbus also helped lure him to the shop.

Earlier this year, Steptoe added the firm of former Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), which includes Johnston’s son, Hunter. Bennett Johnston maintains his own operation but is now based at Steptoe’s offices.

Former Energy and Commerce Chairman Tom Bliley (R-Va.), who had been part of the Collier Shannon group, is also at the firm.

“Our focus right now is on growing our client base,” said Scott Sinder, the chairman of Steptoe’s government relations group.

Steptoe’s Lobbying Disclosure Act revenues shot up last year to $4.2 million — nearly triple the figure from 2006. This year, Sinder projects that LDA as well as other government relations revenue will jump to more than $12 million.

Bonham moved to Washington in the early 1990s and got a job on Matsui’s staff after submitting his résumé into a Congressional job bank. “I was one of these fellows who had the bad habit of dropping out of college to manage Congressional campaigns,” Bonham said.

When Matsui was named chairman of the DCCC, he brought Bonham along as executive director.

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