By Megan R. Wilson - 04/29/14 07:17 AM EDT
The Financial Services Roundtable has added a prominent Republican staffer to its in-house lobby shop.
Tonnie Wybensinger, who served as the staff director for the Senate Banking subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, recently joined the powerful finance lobby.
The Roundtable is building up a bipartisan influence team following last year's big shakeup in a restructuring based on the "strategic vision" of the Roundtable's leader, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R). Two of its top lobbyists were out by the end of last year, and the group has been working on assembling a larger, more specialized team.
Wybensinger, whose varied resume includes senior positions in the House and Senate, has also worked in the campaign world and private sector.
"She brings significant Republican credentials to the table," Hawkins wrote in an email, noting Wybensinger's "strong connections" to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and the Republican leadership in both chambers.
McHenry told the Roundtable Wybensinger has a firm grasp of the issues in the financial services sector as well as "unmatched relationships on the Hill."
In addition to working for the Senate banking panel, Wybensinger has also worked as the chief of staff to Republican Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.), Bill Posey (Fla.) and former Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.). She was one of the youngest women to serve in the senior staff role.
She has been a campaign consultant for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and pitched in on Toomey's Senate campaign in 2010. In the private sector, Wybensinger spent more than two years at the Investment Company Institute, an organization that represents investment companies, until she moved to the Senate Banking panel last year.
"Nobody can compare to Tonnie on the combination of deep substantive knowledge, political instinct and strong contacts," Francis Creighton, the Roundtable's chief lobbyist, wrote in an email. "Everyone knows Tonnie and they know they can go to her for the best path to the best result."
The group named Creighton, former chief of staff to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), as the leader of its lobbying team in February, solidifying the Roundtable's ability to reach Democratic members.
Last month, the Roundtable also added five others, both Democrats and Republicans, to its government affairs staff to deal with major issues facing its members — such as cybersecurity and the evolution of the payments industry.
The group spent more than $4.8 million on lobbying last year, a steep drop from previous years. In 2012, for example, it spent nearly $9 million, a high for the group.