Cassidy poaches top Senate GOP aide

Cassidy poaches top Senate GOP aide
Russell Thomasson, the top staffer to the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, is joining Cassidy & Associates, The Hill has learned. 
 
The move is a major get for the K Street firm, which will bring Thomasson on as an executive vice president next month. Under ethics rules, he is banned from lobbying in the Senate for one year.
 
He has been with Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (R-Texas) since the majority whip's first term in 2003, beginning as a legislative assistant. There are only a few Cornyn aides in the lobbying world, which makes Thomasson a prized asset.
 
“It’s nice that he comes from an office where there aren’t 4,000 alumni, from a competitive standpoint, but that’s not why we’re hiring Russ. We’re hiring Russ because he’s a substantive person who understands how the Hill works, he’s been involved in every substantial piece of legislation over the last five to 10 years,” said Cassidy co-chairman Kai Anderson. “He’s one of the small handful of people who understands how you get big things done — and little things, for that matter.”
 
Barry Rhoads, the firm’s other co-chairman, has known Thomasson since about a decade ago, when the two worked to save military bases in Texas from closure. “I’ve seen the inner workings of how Russ’s mind works,” he said.
 
Thomasson is leaving the Senate on a high note, with Republicans in control the upper chamber and Cornyn in a top leadership position.
 
“Next Friday will be a tough day for me, walking out,” he told The Hill. “It’s all still surreal that I’m leaving the Hill. Even the people you disagree with, you become friends with.”
 
The 15-year Capitol Hill veteran said the move came mainly because it was time for a change in his career, though he looks forward to doing much of the same work in the private sector. 
 
“I wanted to go somewhere that was results-oriented, and Cassidy has that reputation. I’d like to think that I was always focused on getting results up here,” Thomasson said. “There are lobbying firms that are just about setting up a meeting and that’s it. They’re focused on getting something done, which is not, honestly, what every firm is interested in.”
 
Cassidy & Associates has been evolving throughout the last year and a half, ever since its dynamic founder, Gerry Cassidy, handed over the reins to Anderson and Rhoads.
 
The firm was once known as a K Street powerhouse that specialized in securing important appropriations for clients during the earmarks era. Since the prohibition on earmarks in 2010, the firm has been trying to reinvent itself.
 
During the first half of 2015, the firm earned $6.46 million in lobbying fees, a 7 percent increase over the same time last year. 
 
It has signed a dozen new clients so far this year, made some strategic staff hires and now boasts its highest client-retention rate in years. Or as Rhoads says, the team has finally “stabilized the ship.”