Lobbying Firm Akin Gump Hires Two Former House Chairmen

  • Ex-Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Smith join Akin Gump
  • Other firms hire Davis, Kyl as new session begins

Lobbying giant Akin Gump has snagged former Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lamar Smith , adding to the firm’s expertise on homeland security, foreign affairs and environmental policy, among other areas.

Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Smith (R-Texas), who have a combined 62 years of experience on Capitol Hill, will be joining Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice, serving as a senior adviser and senior consultant, respectively. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld annually ranks as K Street’s top lobbying firm by revenue.

The move was part of a flurry of hiring as former members land new roles and the new session of Congress gets underway. Other changes include a new shop for long-retired Rep. Tom Davis; a return to Covington & Burling for ex-Sen. Jon Kyl after temporarily filling the seat of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.); and commentator jobs for two other ex-lawmakers.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ex-House members have a one-year “cooling off” period before they are able to advocate before their former colleagues in that chamber, though they are able to act as registered lobbyists to advocate in the Senate and the executive branch. Ros-Lehtinen and Smith eventually will register to lobby at the firm, according to Ben Harris, Akin Gump’s spokesman.

Ros-Lehtinen was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. She’s also a former Intelligence Committee member.

“My move here builds so well on the work I have accomplished during my time in Congress, and I am excited to begin this next chapter in my career,” she said in a statement.

She came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1960, at the age of eight, and became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the Florida House, Florida Senate, and U.S. House. In Congress, she opposed efforts to curb immigration and voted against attempts to repeal Obamacare.

Smith led three committees during his time in Congress: Judiciary; Science, Space and Technology Committee; and Ethics. He also sat on the Homeland Security Committee. He became known for expressing distrust of the science behind environment regulations.

More Hires

The lobbying firm Holland & Knight announced Monday that it hired Davis, who worked at the accounting and advisory firm Deloitte for a decade. He had been a registered lobbyist at Deloitte since 2011, working on financial services policy issues.

He will be part of Holland & Knight’s public policy and regulation practice. Over the last two years, the firm has ranked in the top five of Washington’s lobbying firms by revenue. Its clients include Tesla, Credit Suisse Securities, insurance company Lloyd’s America, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, student loan provider Navient Solutions and Rapiscan Systems, which manufacturers X-ray machines and metal detectors used at airports.

Davis was hired with an eye toward helping clients deal with demands from congressional oversight committees, Rich Gold, the leader of the firm’s public policy and regulation practice, in a statement.

“Investigations will not be limited to the conduct of government officials, but will include vigorous oversight of those corporate entities that profit from their contractual relationships with the government,” Gold said. “As a respected former chair of the House’s principal oversight and investigations committee with strong relationships on both sides of the aisle, we believe that these businesses will turn to Tom for guidance and strategic assistance.”

Davis was oversight chairman for two Congresses and headed the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Kyl (R-Ariz.) has returned to his old firm after retiring for a second time.

He was with Covington from 2013, when he first retired from the Senate, until Sept. of 2018 when he was appointed to temporarily fill the vacant Senate seat.

In addition, former Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), who lost her bid for re-election, and ex-Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who didn’t run again, are joining CNN as commentators, according to a tweet from the cable network.

To contact the reporter on this story: Megan R. Wilson in Washington at mwilson@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com