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K Street Files: Boehner Gains Staffer; Grassley Loses One

Sen. Judd Gregg’s decision to drop of out the running for the top Business Roundtable job won’t derail the trade association’s hunt for a new president and CEO.

“It is going according to plan and should be done within the next few weeks,” a source familiar with the search said.

On Friday, the New Hampshire Republican told Roll Call he is no longer in consideration for the position, saying in a statement that “although I have the highest regard for the Business Roundtable and believe that it is a positive and constructive voice for good governance in Washington, I do not plan to join this organization.”

Gregg’s decision to bow out leaves a handful of known candidates in the mix, including Larry Burton and Johanna Schneider, who are running the organization on an interim basis. Retiring Blue Dog Coalition Reps. John Tanner and Bart Gordon, both Tennessee Democrats, are also considered likely contenders.

The organization may choose to look off Capitol Hill for a replacement to John Castellani, who left last summer to become president and CEO at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Revolving Door

With the new session approaching, K Street has been snapping up Republican staffers on Capitol Hill. The latest move is a top health policy adviser to the Senate Finance Committee’s ranking member taking a job with the lobbying firm of Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart Inc.

Andrew McKechnie, who worked for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), will be joining the boutique shop Jan. 3.

“As implementation of the new health care law goes into full swing, we could not be more pleased to add one of the Hill’s foremost experts,” PMJ partner Peter Madigan said in a release issued by the firm.

McKechnie has handled various issues related to the Medicare drug program and the Medicare Advantage plans, Madigan said.

According to third-quarter lobbying reports filed with the Senate, PMJ counts among its clients some of the biggest players on health care issues, including PhRMA and health insurance company Wellpoint. It also lobbies for the biotechnology company Amgen and the drug company AstraZeneca, as well as the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

Swinging the Other Way

The revolving door is also spinning the other direction. Brett Loper, an Advanced Medical Technology Association lobbyist and former House leadership staffer, will return to the Hill to join the team of Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) as policy director next year.

Loper will replace Policy Director Mike Sommers, who will serve as deputy chief of staff for leadership operations in the 112th Congress. The new roles will take effect Jan. 3.

Loper held many top-level staff positions during his tenure on the Hill, including staff director for the House Ways and Means Committee, chief of staff for then-Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), and chief of staff for then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Loper briefly worked for Boehner in 2006 after the Ohio Republican won the Majority Leader position following DeLay’s resignation.

Former Union Exec Joins Liberal Group Board

Anna Burger, who left the Service Employees International Union this summer after a change in top management, has been named to the board of directors of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The liberal think tank is headed by John Podesta, who has teamed up with unions to support a number of President Barack Obama’s initiatives.

In a press release, Podesta called Burger “a longtime friend” of the Center for American Progress who has “been fighting hard for progressive ideas and policies for nearly 40 years.”

Burger retired as secretary treasurer of SEIU in August. Her departure followed a power shift at the union that began in April when the union’s longtime president, Andy Stern, stepped down.

Burger, who was an ally of Stern, dropped out of a race to replace him. After Mary Kay Henry was elected to succeed Stern in May, Henry indicated that she was reviewing the duties of all of her deputies including Burger.

At the time of her leaving SEIU, Burger was also chairwoman of Change to Win, a labor federation that broke away from the AFL-CIO five years ago.

Burger is a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

The State of Energy

While Washington will be gearing up soon for the president’s annual State of the Union address next year, the energy industry will be looking to its chief lobbyist to provide a look at the agenda for the near future.

Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute, will be delivering an address on the state of American energy on Jan. 4, according to a release issued by API, which represents major oil companies.

According to the release, Gerard will deliver “a major address” at the Newseum that will outline “how the nation can finally move beyond politics and begin to implement realistic policies that will allow it meet its energy needs.”

The oil industry has been at loggerheads with the Obama administration over issues such as offshore oil drilling and regulation of greenhouse gases.

Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.

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