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Ex-Sen. Joe Donnelly Goes to K Street’s Akin Gump

Former Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is heading to Akin Gump. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Former Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is heading to Akin Gump. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Indiana Democrat who lost his re-election bid in November, is the latest ex-lawmaker to land on K Street.

He will join the lobbying and law firm Akin Gump as a partner on April 1, and no that’s not an April Fool’s joke, the firm’s spokesman confirmed.

“Akin Gump maintains a reputation of hosting a preeminent public policy practice and is home to a fantastic and deep bipartisan team, and joining the firm was an easy decision for me,” Donnelly said in a news release. “I look forward to working with my many new colleagues and putting my legislative skills to work on behalf of many of Akin Gump’s clients.”

The firm serves as the professional home for several other former lawmakers, including Democrat Vic Fazio, a former representative from California, and recent GOP arrivals Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Lamar Smith of Texas.

Akin Gump is the top grossing K Street shop as measured in revenue disclosed to the House and Senate.

It reported nearly $38 million in fees from a lengthy roster of clients in 2018 that included Amazon, American Airlines, AT&T, Chevron Corp., prison company CoreCivic Inc., the Gila River Indian Community, Liberty Mutual insurance company, agribusiness giant Monsanto, drug industry lobby Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform.

Like all recent former senators, Donnelly is subject to a two-year ban on lobbying the legislative branch, though he may lobby the executive branch. He also may advise clients behind the scenes. His ban will expire in January of 2021.

“As a bipartisan practice, we recognize the importance of bringing in talent from both sides of the political aisle who can help our clients solve their most pressing and complex policy challenges,” said Brian Pomper, who co-chairs Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice. “Joe is tremendously well liked and well regarded by his former colleagues in the Senate and the House, and his firsthand experience with key policy issues in the financial services, health care and defense sectors will be invaluable to our clients who are navigating this era of a divided government.”

Donnelly, who spent 12 years on Capitol Hill in the House and Senate, cultivated a reputation as a political moderate who voted with his party 74 percent of the time in 2017, according to CQ’s voting studies of key votes that divided the parties.

He spent one term in the Senate, losing in November to Republican Mike Braun, and three terms in the House. In the Senate, his committee assignments included Banking; Housing and Urban Affairs; Agriculture; Nutrition and Forestry; and Armed Services.

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