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Livingston's Sweet Lobbying Setup

Livingston's Sweet Lobbying Setup

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Published by: thekingfisher1 on Aug 23, 2009
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The Washington PostOctober 17, 2005 MondayFinal Edition
Livingston's Sweet Lobbying SetupBYLINE:
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Financial; D01 , K STREET CONFIDENTIAL By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
1115 wordsOn Saturday, Dec. 19, 1998, Rep. Robert L. Livingston stood in the well of the House of Representatives and rocked the Washington establishment. He was all-but sure to take over as speaker of the House, but instead he said he would resign over reports that he had had extramarital affairs.At the time, he faced a painful reality. "I knew when everything fell apart that I had to opt for adifferent career," the Louisiana Republican said. "There wasn't any question: I had to survive."In the years since, he's gone well beyond survival. The Livingston Group LLC, which the 62-year-oldlawmaker formed in 1999 with his three top aides, is one of the capital's 10 largest non-law-firmlobbying shops, with annual revenue of $13 million. Livingston and his growing company have hadsuch far-flung clients as the nation of Turkey, the city of New Orleans, Lockheed Martin Corp. and theGirl Scouts."A lot of members of Congress don't make the transition easily to lobbying, but Bob did. He's verygood at it," said Charles R. Black Jr., chairman of BKSH & Associates, a Livingston Group competitor."He has a great client list and he does very good work."Livingston has done more than go to riches from ruin, a pattern that by now is familiar along thePotomac. He has also invented a new way of running a lobbying company. Unlike other firms,Livingston has relatively few employees. Most of the people who say they work at Livingston Groupare actually consultants who are loosely affiliated with the former congressman.He likes to call this arrangement "the Re/Max of lobbying," referring to the real estate sales companymade up of independent agents. Livingston also jokes that he has a few workers "in house" and a bunchof others -- the consultants -- in the "outhouse."Livingston came up with this odd, co-op-like configuration after studying the companies that were run by his many lobbyist friends. He knew that he wanted to go out on his own. And the more he talked toestablished lobbyists, the more he became convinced that a flexible, low-fuss system was what wouldwork for him.The Livingston Group has four partners, 13 employee lobbyists and 43 lobbyist-affiliates, six of whomare overseas. The Washington-based workers occupy three floors of a building on the House side of Capitol Hill. Insiders there say that their numbers will expand as their space does.Space is the key. Livingston charges his consultants what amounts to rent, making them pay essentiallywhat the footage, and the office help, costs him. In exchange, the consultants share their clients -- andtheir fees -- with Livingston and his partners."People come to us who are not affiliated with a larger firm and they already have their own business.If they want to affiliate with us on one or two ventures that's fine; we'll provide them with space if theyneed it, at cost virtually," Livingston said. "They don't need a salary; they don't need benefits; theydon't need anything. But when they want to pitch a potential client with a team of lobbyists, they use

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