ROLL CALL: [CGCN Group] Adds New Partner

by Kate Ackley

The all-Republican lobby shop [CGCN Group], which has grown dramatically in recent years, is adding a new partner to kick off the new year. Mike Nielsen, who spent 16 years working on banking and financial services issues as a Senate aide, is joining from the Bennett Group, the firm of former Sen. Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah.

“He has mentored a generation of Republican staffers and been a trusted advisor to me,” the former senator (Bob Bennett R-Utah) said of Nielsen.

“He has mentored a generation of Republican staffers and been a trusted advisor to me,” the former senator said of Nielsen in a statement emailed by [CGCN Group].

Nielsen advised Bennett on the Senate Banking Committee and worked on legislation including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.

[CGCN Group] is on track to post more than $4.8 million in lobbying revenue for 2012, up from $3.6 million in 2011 and just $1.9 million 2010. Its growth is notable because many of K Street’s firms have hit flat stretches in the past two years.

[CGCN Group]’s recent clients include the American Institute of CPAs, Boeing Co., the Electronic Payments Coalition, General Motors Co., Koch Industries, MasterCard International and the Children’s Hospital Association, among others.

The firm’s founding partner, Steve Clark, called Nielsen “the ultimate team player.”

“He is steady, hard working and respected by everyone he’s ever worked with,” Clark added. “We know our clients will be impressed.”

[CGCN Group] has connections to House GOP leadership, and the firm’s partnership donates generously to Republican coffers. But Nielsen will give the shop’s clients deeper reach into the Senate. He has ties to Utah’s Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, who will play a major role in the coming tax debates as ranking member of the Finance Committee.

“Members like them and staffers trust them,” said Chad Kolton, a partner at HDMK, which has shared clients with [CGCN Group]. “Nielsen will add new relationships and different experiences.”

In 2007, Clark, who opened the firm 13 years ago from his native Ohio, brought on Gary Lytle, who was interim president and CEO of the U.S. Telecom Association, and Sam Geduldig, a former GOP leadership and Financial Services Committee aide. In 2011, the shop added Jay Cranford, who was an assistant for policy to Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio. And that same year, former Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, affiliated with the firm.

“They punch way above their weight,” said Tim Keating, Boeing’s top lobbyist, in a statement.