K Street Files: Black Is Back

Posted January 9, 2009 at 6:05pm

Charlie Black, the longtime GOP strategist who “retired” from the lobby firm he founded in order to remain a top adviser to Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, has re-entered the work force — as chairman of his old firm, BKSH & Associates.

[IMGCAP(1)]It’s the same job Black had long held at the Burson-Marsteller-owned lobby shop.

“I said I retired from BKSH and was a full-time volunteer for the campaign, and had no plans past Nov. 4, and that’s what happened,” Black said.

“I honestly did not think about it at all until Nov. 5,” he added. “But I certainly knew at the age of 61 that I wasn’t going to completely retire.”

Black said he talked to a couple of other firms, but he said in the end BKSH was “the logical place for me.”

Added firm President Scott Pastrick: “This was not an assumed or done deal. I had to make him an offer.”

Black, a veteran political operative who founded his lobby shop more than

a quarter of a century ago, was among a number of once-registered lobbyists on the McCain presidential campaign team to face questions about past clients.

In Black’s case, those included a host of unsavory figures, perhaps most notoriously Jonas Savimbi, who until he was killed in 2002 led the Angolan rebel group UNITA in a lengthy civil war against the Marxist government.

Black was and is unapologetic about those clients, who also included now-deceased Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. And he said he has always vetted his foreign clients and the scope of the work for those clients with the White House.

Savimbi, Black added, “was fighting communists, the administration was funding him and providing him with military assistance. They encouraged us to represent him.”

On Second Thought. Television broadcasters appear to be waiting for lawmakers to act before supporting a delay of the Feb. 17 digital-television transition.

“We’re going to obviously be reading the tea leaves to see if this idea of delaying the transition has legs,” a telecommunications industry source said late last week

On Thursday, President-elect Barack Obama signaled that he favors postponing the looming deadline, setting off a potential fight on Capitol Hill among Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel’s top Republican, Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), called Obama’s statement “disappointing” and said “reintroducing uncertainty to the switch will make things worse instead of better.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, agreed with Obama, arguing that the president-elect “highlights the vulnerability of millions of Americans to the impending analog signal shut-off.”

K Street Moves. The lobbying firm Raben Group has added three people: Licy Do Canto, the former chief executive of the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families; Karen Marangi, formerly with Patton Boggs; and Daniel Penchina, a former aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Do Canto and Marangi are joining as partners; Penchina will be a director.

• Allison & Partners has hired Brian Feldman, most recently with the Edison Group, to lead its Washington, D.C., and Atlanta offices.

• Kara Calvert, a lobbyist with the Information Technology Industry Council and a one-time aide to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), is joining the tech-focused lobby boutique Franklin Square Group later this month.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

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