Former NRA lobbyist, Abramoff associate joins new firm

Michael Williams, a former lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA), has become a senior public policy adviser at Barnes & Thornburg.
Williams comes from Greenberg Traurig, a firm where he spent more than a decade, most recently serving as its senior director. Before that, he was a senior in-house lobbyist at the NRA.

“His years of experience representing clients’ interests at the federal level” are an important “complement” to the firm’s federal relations group, said Karen A. McGee, the managing partner in Barnes & Thornburg’s Washington office.

Greenberg signed the NRA as a client at Greenberg earlier this year on the heels of a Senate vote on gun control legislation. The NRA recently terminated its account with the firm, according to federal records.

Williams’s other clients at Greenberg included LiveNation, DirectTV, Netflix and gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson.

Barnes & Thornburg reported taking in about $2.8 million in federal lobbying fees in 2012. Lobbyists at the firm represent several municipalities and hospitals, in addition to Best Buy and other private companies.

“[Williams] focuses on creating integrated strategies to assist clients in achieving positive legislative and regulatory outcomes,” Barnes & Thornburg said in a release. “His experience includes creating plans that involve comprehensive legislative, regulatory, grass tops, grass roots and public relations efforts.”

A House Committee on Government Reform, and several media reports, named Williams as an associate to Jack Abramoff during his time at Greenberg Traurig. Abramoff pleaded guilty to tax evasion, public corruption and fraud charges in 2006, but Williams was never implicated in the scandal in any way.