Bush aide leaving to join Koch Industries

Top White House official Matt Schlapp is joining the Washington office of oil-and-gas conglomerate Koch Industries, the latest example of high-level administration and congressional staffers making post-election leaps to the lobbying world.

Schlapp has headed the White House’s Office of Political Affairs since 2003, after having served two years as deputy director of the office under Ken Mehlman, who left to lead the president’s reelection campaign and now chairs the Republican National Committee.

Sarah Taylor is expected to replace Schlapp.

Schlapp will be executive director of federal affairs, a new position created atop Koch’s current Washington lobbying staff. He begins Feb. 21.

Although Koch has been active in lobbying for passage of the energy bill and its political action committee spent more than $1 million in the last election, the privately held company is perhaps better known in Washington for the Koch family’s support for conservative causes, including its role in the founding of the libertarian Cato Institute, the grassroots anti-tax group FreedomWorks/Citizens for a Sound Economy, and George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. David Koch, one of Koch Industries’ heads, was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1980.

Leaders of Koch’s Washington office have typically played a role in conservative activism. Wayne Gable, managing director of federal affairs and the Washington office’s current head, sits on the board of conservative nonprofit organization Americans for Prosperity, which is headed by his predecessor Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer.

Before coming to the White House, Schlapp was a regional political director for Bush-Cheney 2000 and, before that, chief of staff to Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).

A native of Wichita, where Koch is based, Schlapp received a master’s degree in public administration from Wichita State University. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Notre Dame.