Firms Feel Puerto Rico's New Winds
By Judy Sarasohn
With Sila Calderon firmly in control as the new governor of Puerto Rico, the island's lobbying business has made its expected switch of hands in Washington.
The main loser: Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, which
had done a tidy business -- almost $1.4 million in 1999 alone for its lobbying
on behalf of
Puerto Rico's business development agency -- in recent years representing various government entities.
But Verner Liipfert lawyers were philosophical. After all, they had
been working for the commonwealth's New Progressive Party administration,
which had lost to
Calderon's anti-statehood Popular Democratic Party.
"We wish them well," Verner Liipfert's Gary Klein said of the new lobbyists. "We're working with them to get them started."
Big winners, who had been toiling earlier for the Popular Democratic Party, included:
• Winston & Strawn: James Burnley IV, former transportation secretary
in Bush I; Beryl Anthony, former Democratic member of the House from Arkansas;
Kirtland, a former Republican Senate staffer; Francisco Pavia, former general counsel of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration; and Peter Hiebert.
"People here had worked for the Popular Democratic Party previously
and worked with her when she was mayor of San Juan," Burnley said. "We
stayed in touch
with her through the transition. We were ready to roll."
• BKSH & Associates: Republican strategist Charles Black Jr. The
lobby shop helped organize Calderon's meetings in Washington last week,
including one with
Josh Bolton, deputy chief of staff to President Bush (Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. dropped by). But her meeting with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
was requested by Rumsfeld, Black said.
• Patton Boggs: Primarily Democratic superlobbyist Thomas Boggs Jr.
and Donald Morehead, a former Republican chief counsel of the Senate Finance
Also, Gabriel Guerra, former ambassador to Chile, is a consultant to the firm on Puerto Rico.
• Covington & Burling: Richard Copehaken.
Big Issues: Stopping U.S. naval bombing exercises at the Puerto Rican
island of Vieques; economic development; and a host of other issues. After
meeting, Rumsfeld ordered the Navy to call off planned training this month on Vieques.