Morning Business: Life After Congress

Posted January 12, 2009 at 5:19pm

Former Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who made overhaul of the nation’s election laws a centerpiece of his 22-year House career, is joining the board of the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign finance reform group in Washington, D.C.

[IMGCAP(1)]In a statement, Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter said Shays’ “passion for public service and dedication to reform, even in the face of tremendous odds, will be valuable assets on the distinguished panel that currently makes up the Legal Center Board.”

After narrowly defending his seat in 2006, Shays — until recently the only Republican House Member from New England — was defeated by investment-banker-turned-community-activist Jim Himes (D) in November.

Potter, who practices law at Caplin & Drysdale, was a top lawyer to the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain, along with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and then-Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.), all worked with Shays on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

The Campaign Legal Center’s board includes the American Enterprise Institute’s Norman Ornstein, a contributing writer for Roll Call; the Brookings Institution’s Thomas Mann; former Federal Election Commission Chairman Scott Thomas; and Colby College campaign finance expert Anthony Corrado.

Connaughton Moves to Kaufman. Vice President-elect Joseph Biden’s Senate replacement, Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), has appointed lobbyist Jeff Connaughton, a co-founder of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, as his chief of staff.

Connaughton was a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee when it was led by Biden and a White House special assistant in the Clinton administration.

He co-founded QGA in 2000 with former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn and Ed Gillespie, who left the firm last year to become counselor to President George W. Bush.

Connaughton says the move had nothing to do with a desire to position himself for an eventual jump to the Obama White House, which has been loath to hire former lobbyists for administration jobs directly from K Street.

“This has everything to do with my relationship with Ted Kaufman,” Connaughton said. “We are very close and I revere him, and the fact that he gets to be in the U.S. Senate is something I can’t pass up.”

Connaughton is the second Quinn Gillespie lobbyist to head back to Capitol Hill for the 111th Congress.

In late November, Chris McCannell left to join Rep. Michael McMahon (D-N.Y.) as his chief of staff.