Nickles to start consulting firm

Sen. Don Nickles is about to become The Nickles Group.

The Oklahoma Republican and Budget Committee chairman said yesterday that he will start his own political consulting and business venture company after he ends his 24-year Senate career next month.

Declaring that he wants to be “not only successful but also significant,” Nickles told The Hill that he will take his experience and several top staffers with him to K Street.

Nickles, who was elected to the Senate at age 31 and turned 54 on Monday, said he is looking forward to the challenge of starting his own business. It will be “fun to see how it takes off,” he said.
Sen. Don Nickles is about to become The Nickles Group.

The Oklahoma Republican and Budget Committee chairman said yesterday that he will start his own political consulting and business venture company after he ends his 24-year Senate career next month.

Declaring that he wants to be “not only successful but also significant,” Nickles told The Hill that he will take his experience and several top staffers with him to K Street.

Nickles, who was elected to the Senate at age 31 and turned 54 on Monday, said he is looking forward to the challenge of starting his own business. It will be “fun to see how it takes off,” he said.
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Sen. Nickles will start The Nickles Group after leaving the Senate.

Joining Nickles as principal partners will be three of his staffers or former staffers — Hazen Marshall, Stacey Hughes and Cindi Merifield Tripodi.

Marshall was majority staff director of the Senate Budget Committee, which Nickles chaired, and Hughes is a healthcare specialist who worked with Nickles on the Budget Committee and when he was majority whip. Tripodi was a legislative assistant to Nickles who went on to lobby for the American Medical Association and the Motion Picture Association of America.

The lawmaker said that loyalty is very important to him, adding, “I always thought I had the best staff on the Hill.”

Nickles said he knew he wanted to start something that would be “his own thing” but also realized that “it is a challenge to start something totally from scratch.” While The Nickles Group is starting relatively small, the senator hopes to see it grow “rather significantly.”

Nickles is waiting until his Senate term officially ends to begin attracting clients. But he said he has been thinking about likely clients.

The Nickles Group is broadly defined to allow him and his staff to maximize their options on what issues they will handle. Nickles, who has extensive experience on health, tax, energy and labor issues, said one of the nice things about being in the Senate was that he got to “work on everything.”

“We want to do quality work and gain a reputation,” Nickles said, adding he hopes that his company’s work will have “a positive significance on the country and the world.”

Nickles said a trip last year to Africa again showed him the importance of working on issues such as combating AIDS, providing clean water and opening educational opportunities to those who do not have them. With regard to working on those kinds of issues, Nickles said: “You can do that in the Senate but also outside of the Senate.”

Rumors had linked the lawmaker’s plans to those of retiring Louisiana Democrat Sen. John Breaux. Nickles said that the two are very good friends and that he is keeping “the door open that we might do something in the future.”

“I am always interested in working with him,” not just as a partner, Nickles said. He also hopes to continue to work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, noting that he has a lot of Democratic friends, including new Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Also joining The Nickles Group will be Jody Hernandez, another of the lawmaker’s aides.