Washington Babylon — November 14, 2008, 1:46 pm

Biden’s “Intern” Nabs Lobbying Contract: Washington adjusts to the Obama Era

The Washington Post had two interesting pieces today about how Washington is responding to the election of Barack Obama. The first said that Obama’s election had “touched off a mini-boom on K Street” and that Democrats who supported him were the primary beneficiaries.

“[Jaime] Harrison helped mobilize voter turnout for Obama in South Carolina, and for the past two years he directed floor operations for House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) — credentials that made him a sought-after addition to firms looking for an edge in a new administration. “I built a lot of strong relationships with members, as well as their staff, and some of my very best friends worked on the campaign,” Harrison said. He will start with the Podesta Group next week.

The second piece said that bundlers “who raised millions of dollars for [Obama’s] White House bid are starting to land significant posts on his transition team. At least nine of the volunteer fundraisers whose wide networks of colleagues, friends and relatives gave more than $1.85 million to Obama are now positioned to help the president-elect set foreign and domestic policy and identify potential Cabinet appointees.” Meanwhile, Public Citizen reported that Congressmen John Dingell and Nick Rahall are hosting a fundraiser next week to help newly elected Democrats retire their campaign debt. The price: $20,000 for Political Action Committees and $10,000 for individuals.”

I checked lobby disclosure reports filed over the past few months and there’s an endless list of former government officials and staffers handling new accounts. Democrats are indeed doing well.

Thurgood Marshall Jr., who formerly worked for Al Gore, signed on to represent Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Joshua Fay-Hurvitz, a former staffer to Congressman Anthony Weiner, recently was retained (along with several other lobbyists) to represent Sovereign Bank.

Steve Elmendorf, a one-time adviser to former House minority leader Richard Gephardt, was retained by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Three other former Democratic staffers are working on the Association’s account, including Robert Cogorno. “Most recently, Cogorno served as Floor Director to Representative Steny Hoyer in both his Majority Leader and Democratic Whip offices,” says his bio. “In that capacity, Cogorno oversaw the Leader’s floor staff which directs day-to-day legislative activity in the House of Representatives. As the Leader’s chief liaison to Committee Chairmen and Chairwomen and their staffs, and other Members and their offices, Cogorno managed implementation of the Democratic strategy, counting votes and building support for leadership-backed legislation.”

And then there’s Gwen Mellor at Hogan & Hartson, who signed up to represent NewStar Financial on November 4, Election Day. Mellor has worked for at least five former members of congress, including Senators Tim Johnson and Tom Carper.

But on her disclosure form Mellor only mentions one former job: intern to Senator Joe Biden. Now that’s someone who knows how to adapt to the new era.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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