Bipartisan Group of Former Senate Chiefs Opens Lobby Shop

Posted March 24, 2010 at 5:30am

Four former Senate chiefs of staff, including Kyle Simmons, the recent top aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), are officially opening the doors of their lobby shop, the FIRST Group.

Roll Call first reported in February that the firm was forming.
Named after the first initials of their last names (plus an “F” for FIRST), the firm’s principals include Tom Ingram and Bob Russell, former top aides to Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), respectively; Simmons; and Bernie Toon, formerly a lobbyist at the Bechtel Group. Toon served as chief of staff to then-Sen. and current Vice President Joseph Biden as well as to Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.).

“We want to help our clients solve problems and maximize opportunities and we believe our broad range of professional experience allows us to do that,” the group said in a statement.
The firm will be a Washington, D.C.-based strategic consulting firm providing clients with communications and government relations services.

The firm will also be associated with the Ingram Group, a Nashville, Tenn., firm formed 26 years ago.

Simmons, Russell and Ingram all face a one-year ban from lobbying the Senate because their individual salaries were more than 75 percent of the Members that they worked for, according to LegiStorm, a Web site that tracks Congressional salaries.

For Simmons, who is known for his political prowess on and off the Hill, this is not his first stint downtown. Simmons previously worked as a lobbyist for Quinn Gillespie & Associates before returning to McConnell’s staff.

Ingram and Russell are co-founders of the bipartisan Senate chiefs of staff group, which includes most of the Senate’s 100 chiefs of staff.