Politico

Former Podesta, BGR lobbyists start new firm

Written by Lisa

Two more former lobbyists from the Podesta Group are striking out on their own after Tony Podesta’s firm imploded last month.

The lobbyists, Oscar Ramirez and Dana Thompson, are teaming up with Josh Lamel, who recently left BGR Group, to start InSight Public Affairs.

Ramirez and Thompson had originally planned to join Cogent Strategies, the new firm that the Podesta Group’s longtime Chief Executive Kimberley Fritts started last month. Their pictures were included on the firm’s website when it launched.

“From a client-service perspective and an everyday work perspective, it seemed natural” to join Cogent, Thompson said in an interview on Friday.

But Thompson and Ramirez continued to consider their next moves in the wake of the Podesta Group’s collapse and decided they’d rather start a firm of their own. They teamed with Lamel, who had left the BGR Group, a top Washington lobbying firm, in October with plans to open a shop of his own.

While many former Podesta Group staffers have joined Cogent, others have scattered to other lobbying firms or started their own shops. Those who have opted to strike out on their own include Paul Brathwaite, who launched Federal Street Strategies, and Josh Lahey, who teamed up with Colin Hayes, a former Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff director, to start Lot Sixteen.

InSight Public Affairs will do lobbying and other public affairs work for a variety of clients with a focus on the tech and telecommunications sectors. “A large chunk of our business is going to be working with clients that are part of the innovation economy,” Ramirez said, including the clean energy industry, tech startups and financial and educational technology firms.

Ramirez and Thompson lobbied for several of the same clients at the Podesta Group, according to disclosure records, including Airbnb, Lyft and T-Mobile. The two have already signed another former Podesta client, a trade group called Career Education Colleges and Universities.

Lamel, meanwhile, will continue working with the Re:Create Coalition, which advocates on copyright issues.

“We’re confident a handful of clients that we’ve worked with are going to come over in the next week or two,” Ramirez said.

The trio also hopes to carve out a niche working with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“Josh, Dana and I have all been senior staffers for members of the Congressional Black Caucus,” Ramirez said, and he has also worked for two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

All three are Democrats, but they hope to recruit at least one Republican partner to join them in the next couple of months.

“From the very beginning we planned on building a bipartisan firm,” Thompson said. “We’ve been in talks with some friends on the Republican side.”

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