McConnell staff alumni on the move: Billy Piper to lobby, Justin Brasell to consult

12/05/2010 10:19 PM

The Washington lobbying firm of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock announced Sunday that it had hired Billy Piper, who has served as chief of staff for Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell since 2002.

Piper announced his departure from McConnell’s office on Dec. 1 but kept the identity of his new employer under wraps.

Piper will serve as the firm’s senior vice president effective Jan. 3. He will remain with McConnell’s office through Dec. 31.

“I deeply admire Billy for his professionalism, integrity, political smarts and strategic ability,” said the firm’s president Mark Isakowitz in a statement. “He has been at the center of so many important moments for our party and our country, and our clients will benefit from his wisdom and experience.”

The firm, founded by longtime Republican aide and political consultant Don Fierce, lobbies for a diverse group of clients, including Coca-Cola, the Republic of Korea, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Ford and the American Gaming Association.

It also lobbies for quite a few trade organizations such as the American Insurance Association, American Pork Export Council, Corporate Health Care Coalition, Federation of American Hospitals, NFL Players Association, National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Another client is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which ran millions of dollars worth of ads during the fall election almost exclusively to help Republican candidates. Among those who benefited from the U.S. Chamber’s ads was Rand Paul, who won Kentucky’s other U.S. Senate seat.

The named partners of the firm are all Republicans: Fierce worked for President Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater among others; Isakowitz was an aide to the late Congressman Paul Gillmor, an Ohio Republican, and served on President George W. Bush’s 2000 transition team; and Kirk Blalock was a special assistant to Bush and a liaison to the business community for his administration.

Piper replaces Katie Huffard, who announced her departure from the firm Dec. 3.

McConnell has not yet named Piper’s successor in his office. McConnell, who has already announced he plans to seek a sixth term in 2014, is expected to choose a new chief of staff soon.

Piper is the latest in a line of McConnell aides to leave the Capitol for K Street (or thereabouts considering Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock is actually on F Street.)

In February, Kyle Simmons left as chief of staff of McConnell’s Republican leader office to set up his own lobbying shop — The First Group —  with four other former Senate staffers from both sides of the aisle.

Piper’s predecessor, Hunter Bates, also created a lobbying firm, Bates Capitol Group, after leaving McConnell’s office although it wasn’t a direct move. Bates was running mate to then-gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher until a judge in Oldham County ruled he didn’t meet Kentucky’s residency requirements to be on the ticket.

Former McConnell campaign manager leaves Thune campaign to set up consulting firm

Another McConnell staff alumnus, Justin Brasell, announced recently that he was on move.

Brasell, who ran McConnell’s successful 2008 election campaign, will open a consulting firm in Mississippi, where he attended college, as first reported by Roll Call last week.

Brasell had most recently served on the campaign for Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who was re-elected in November. Thune also is considering running for the GOP nomination for president in two years.

Brasell has not announced his firm’s clients.

- Ryan Alessi


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