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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 17, 2019 1:00 am

Largest DC lobbying firm hires Donnelly

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Former U.S. senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana has joined the largest lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.

Akin Gump announced Wednesday that Donnelly will become a partner April 1 in its public law and policy practice. He will advise clients in the financial services, defense and health care industries, the firm said in a news release.

Donnelly is prohibited by law from doing lobbying work – trying to influence federal legislators – for two years after his departure from the Senate early this year.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics lists Akin Gump as the largest lobbying firm by revenue for each of the past five years, including $37.7 million in 2018.

Donnelly, a resident of Granger in St. Joseph County, was a Democratic member of the House from 2007 through 2012, when he was elected to a six-year term in the Senate. He lost his seat in the November election to Republican Mike Braun of Jasper. Braun this year introduced legislation that would prohibit former members of Congress from federal lobbying.

Brian Pomper, Akin Gump public law and policy practice co-chair, said in the news release that Donnelly “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.”

While in the Senate, Donnelly was a member of the Armed Services and Banking committees.

Donnelly said in the release, “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 has been an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater, since leaving the Senate. He is the third former member of Congress hired recently by Akin Gump, the firm said. The others are Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Lamar Smith of Texas.

Lawmaker ratings

Federal legislators representing northeast Indiana were in the middle of the pack in the latest congressional ratings by the Center for Effective Lawmaking.

The nonpartisan research and policy center at the University of Virginia rated members of Congress according to 15 indicators that measure their ability to advance bills through the legislative process.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, ranked 117th out of 244 Republicans during the 2017-18 Congress, and Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, ranked 125th among GOP House members.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., ranked 27th out of 54 Republicans in the Senate, and former Democratic senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana ranked 29th out of 48 Democrats.

The highest-scoring Hoosier was Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th, who ranked 35th among House Republicans.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking said the highest-rated members of each chamber's caucus were Republican Rep. Don King of Alaska, non-voting Democratic Rep. Eleanor Norton of the District of Columbia, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.