Courting clients

As part of the team responsible for shepherding President Bush’ s Supreme Court nominees through the confirmation process, Jamie Brown had to know where senators stood on weighty constitutional issues like privacy rights and habeas corpus. And then there was the matter of Anna Nicole Smith. 

As she took Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts from Senate office to Senate office, Brown noticed an alert on her BlackBerry: Among the cases the Court was going to consider was the dispute between the now -deceased starlet and the family of her late husband, oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, over his estimated $1.6 billion fortune.

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“I just started laughing that I had to tell the soon-to-be chief justice this,” Brown said.

Updating Roberts on the “E! True Hollywood” details of Smith’s marriage to the 89-year-old Marshall was one of the lighter moments in a heady seven-month stretch, starting in July 2005, when the administration worked to fill two Supreme Court seats. Brown was a key element of the White House’s legislative team that helped earn the confirmation for both Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

“It was one of the most intensive periods of my life,” said Brown, now a principal at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. Having been tested by the Supreme Court nomination process, Brown has taken those skills and contacts to K Street for a variety of clients at her firm.

Roberts and Alito, along with Harriet Miers, were the first Supreme Court nominees by a Republican administration since 1992, when then-President George H.W. Bush nominated Justice Clarence Thomas. Neither Roberts’s nor Alito’s nomination created the acrimony that Thomas’s did, but keeping a congressional coalition intact was a challenge in a faster-moving Washington driven by 24 hours of blog postings and cable news shows.

That crucible proved good training for K Street, Brown believes. She met several times with more than 80 senators, and earned a degree of trust she can rely on when heading to the Hill. In addition, the strategies associated with passing legislation are not that different than those involved with convincing lawmakers to sign off on a court nominee, Brown said.

And, even though few issues are as partisan as the nomination of Supreme Court justices, the respect Brown earned came from both sides of the aisle.  

“Not everyone in Washington, when you deal with them, is above board and plays it straight,” said Preet Bharara, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFCC advances proposal to unmask blocked caller ID in threat cases Trump: Pelosi's leadership good for the GOP Live coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill MORE’s (D-N.Y.) chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bharara was the New York Democrat’s point man on the Roberts and Alito confirmations and often requested documents and other legal paperwork to flesh out their records.

“She was a huge asset to the administration,” Bharara said. “Charm helps, and she has it.” {mospagebreak}

A Connecticut native, Brown took an interest in politics from an early age. She took an opportunity to shake President Jimmy Carter’s hand when she was in fourth grade.

Brown studied political science and economics at the University of South Florida, and took her first Washington job in 1990, as a staff assistant for then-Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), handling his intern program. Brown had interned for the senator previously in the summer of 1989.

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“He was just a fantastic boss,” Brown said about Mack. After graduating with a law degree from Georgetown, Brown rejoined his office in 1995 as legislative counsel.

“I can always count on the information she gave to me,” said Mack, now a senior policy adviser at King & Spalding.

“Someone who I valued for her insight and intellect.”

Brown worked on a number of immigration initiatives for Mack and helped to screen applicants for federal district court as part of a judicial nominating committee that the senator established.

After leaving Mack’s office in 1998, Brown began her lobbying career at Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson and Hand.

“I still had student loans to pay off,” she joked. But the call for public service came again when President George W. Bush won election in 2000.

“After Sept. 11, I really had a desire to serve,” said Brown. She would eventually join the Justice Department in August 2002, becoming acting assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, which led to the White House job.

By the end of the Supreme Court blitz, though, Brown’s energy was sapped. She again moved downtown to join the relatively new Washington office for Google, the Internet giant that was then beginning to beef up its lobbying staff.

While there, Brown helped set up Google’s political action committee and searched for a permanent Washington home.

“[In] what was at times an incredibly difficult period, she helped Google put a footprint down here and did it in the right way,” said Bob Boorstin, a former national security speechwriter for President Bill ClintonBill ClintonPoll: Former AG Lynch should be investigated Poll: Trump approval rating rebounds OPINION: Trump’s bluff: Perfectly legal MORE and current director of policy and communications at Google. “Jamie understands the way Washington works.”

In September 2007, Brown switched to Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, a rising D.C. firm. There Brown has continued to lobby for tech clients such as eBay and HP.