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TechNet’s Westine Leaving for New Trade Group

Updated April 8, 12:32 p.m.

TechNet President and CEO Lezlee Westine is joining the Personal Care Products Council as chief executive officer today, raising some doubt about the high-tech trade association’s future.

TechNet general counsel and Senior Vice President Jim Hawley, who is based in California, will be serving as acting CEO of the high-tech trade group as it conducts an internal and external search to replace Westine, according to a TechNet press release announcing Westine’s departure.

“Lezlee’s leadership of TechNet has been world-class,— John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc. and TechNet co-founder, said in the release. “While we will miss her results-driven approach, we support her decision to pursue the next phase of her career.—

Westine’s exit has fueled rumors on K Street that TechNet will soon merge with another tech association, like the Information Technology Industry Council or the newly minted Technology Association of America.

Formed in 1997, TechNet is a bipartisan association of high-tech leaders that lobbies on everything from education to Internet fees. The group spent $280,000 on federal advocacy in 2008, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports.

The association’s political action committee doled out $34,110 to federal candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. TechNet is also known for helping raise many thousands of dollars hosting fundraisers for politicians.

TechNet has flirted with a potential merger in the past and has lost two of its lobbyists in the past year.

Should TechNet merge with another trade group, it would be the second consolidation of high-tech trade groups in recent months. The American Electronics Association and the Information Technology Association of America merged in December, forming the TAA.

While industry watchers say the TAA and the ITI will likely vie for the association to come under their umbrella, TechNet and the ITI’s close relationship was on display late last month when the two trade groups held a joint lobbying push.

Westine joined TechNet in 2005 after serving as White House director of public liaison and deputy assistant to President George W. Bush.

Her departure follows that of two other lobbyists for the trade group: Bret Wincup, who joined the Information Technology Industry Council in March 2008, and Michael Platt, who led TechNet’s grass-roots lobbying efforts and joined the Recording Industry Association of America in June.

Betsy Mullins remains TechNet’s only other registered lobbyist.

Westine’s arrival at the cosmetic association is expected to be announced Wednesday, according to a source with knowledge.

The cosmetic association has been looking to fill its top slot since Pamela Bailey left in December to head up the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Mark Pollak, executive vice president of strategic initiatives and assistant secretary at the Personal Care Products Council, has been serving as interim president and CEO.

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