By Kevin Bogardus - 04/17/12 09:00 AM EDT
Drew Maloney has been the man behind the curtain for some of the biggest names in the Republican Party.
Maloney, CEO of Ogilvy Government Relations, has been heavily involved in both of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) presidential campaigns. Maloney has helped organize the candidate’s trips to Washington to meet with lawmakers and set up fundraising events. He has even done some volunteer phone-banking and door-knocking in Iowa and New Hampshire.
A close colleague at the firm said Maloney is “the head of the ‘congressional complaints department’” for Romney’s campaign.
Maloney’s quiet, steady approach to politics and policy has led the former administrative assistant and legislative director for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) to the top of the lobbying food chain.
“You have to run a lobbying firm like a business, and we do that. We have very smart, talented advocates that are highly respected in their issue areas, and they are very passionate about what they do on behalf of our clients,” Maloney said.
Maloney first joined the firm in 2002 when it was called the Federalist Group. The then-Republican lobby shop was bought by WPP in 2005, becoming Ogilvy Government Relations, and hired its first Democratic lobbyist in 2006.
Now with 14 lobbyists — six Democrats, eight Republicans — the firm is one of K Street’s highest earners and is growing despite economic headwinds knocking back other shops. Ogilvy pulled in $19.9 million in lobbying fees for 2011, a 14 percent jump over the prior year.
Maloney, 43, heads up the firm that represents some of the biggest corporate brands in America: Chevron, Hilton, Pfizer, Verizon and US Airways, to name a few, according to lobbying disclosure records.
Berman said Maloney “is what Beaver Cleaver grew up to be.”
“He is the nice, polite, hardworking guy who walks his dog and cleans up after it,” Berman said.
That American Main Street analogy works well for Maloney, who grew up on a farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
“We had everything from sheep to a couple cows to horses. A poultry house. Goats. Pigs. We have had them all,” Maloney said with a laugh.
But having been born in Georgetown University Hospital, the attraction to Washington was almost always there for Maloney. His parents — his mother a Capitol Hill aide while his father worked in the family’s dry-cleaning business — first met on a blind date set up by former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), now head of the Motion Picture Association of America.
“I was always fascinated by politics and I always enjoyed it. I knew I wanted to come to Washington and be part of it,” Maloney said.
Maloney graduated Randolph-Macon College in 1991. Soon after, he worked on a state Senate campaign for then-GOP challenger Tommy Norment, now majority leader of Virginia’s state Senate.
That led to a return to Washington with internships at lobby firms and on Capitol Hill, as well as a law degree from Catholic University.
Maloney then went to work for several GOP lawmakers in the House. He would soon have a front-row seat to one of the greatest political scandals: the impeachment trial of President Clinton.
Maloney was part of the House Republicans’ team of aides and attorneys who interviewed Monica Lewinsky in the Mayflower Hotel’s presidential suite at the height of the scandal. He also helped former Rep. Ed Bryant (R-Tenn.), one of the House’s 13 impeachment managers, present his findings to the Senate during Clinton’s trial.
“I was hoping it was my big day when they were doing the camera shots that there’s me on the floor, but all they got was my hand flipping the chart on the floor of the Senate,” Maloney joked. “I got the hand-on-the-easel shot, but that was it.”
Maloney’s career in Washington has won him many friends.
Brett Loper, House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) policy director, has known Maloney since they worked together in then-Rep. Roger Wicker’s (R-Miss.) office in the late 1990s.
Loper said Maloney is an expert networker. The lobbyist makes certain that he knows everyone — and is known by everyone — including lawmakers in both parties, campaign operatives, Washington reporters and junior aides on Capitol Hill.
“He just makes the point of connecting with all of them. He does that as well as anybody I know in the profession in such a kind and unassuming way,” Loper said. “He is the kind of guy you would want to have as your next-door neighbor.”
Others in Washington agree.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in a statement that he has enjoyed working with Maloney for several years.
“He’s a great asset to the Romney campaign and he’s widely known and respected by the members in both chambers,” Blunt said.
Maloney has been a fundraiser for and donor to the ex-governor’s campaign, having raised more than $56,000 for Romney as well as contributing $7,500 to the candidate’s campaign and political action committee this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records. He also has been willing to risk life and limb for Romney.
Maloney recalls a perilous experience when he and others stopped by a New Hampshire house to campaign for Romney during the 2008 presidential primary.
“We got halfway up there and this pack of dogs came running off the porch and just came chasing after us,” Maloney said. “We were running and beelining for the car and jumped in the back of that car and took off out of there.”
The lobbyist said that he was not able to place the Romney brochure on the door, but thinks the candidate might have had the vote anyway.
“It was a rural New Hampshire voter, so I think we probably got them,” Maloney said.
Asked about working in a potential Romney White House, Maloney wards off any hypothetical questions. Maloney, married with two children, said he’s concentrating on his family and Ogilvy.
“Right now, I’m focused on running this place and raising two little girls,” Maloney said.