Another DeLay aide leaves Hill for K street

Juliane Carter Sullivan, a senior aide to Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), has joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

She is the fifth DeLay aide to leave since the start of the 109th Congress. Stuart Roy and Jonathan Grella, DeLay’s spokesmen; Carl Thorsen, his counsel; and Deana Funderburk, a policy analyst, all left earlier this year.

Sullivan told The Hill she left DeLay’s staff because she is expecting a baby and needed more flexible hours. Her departure had nothing to do with the imbroglio over DeLay’s ethics, she added.

Additionally, several House leadership aides said the spate of departures had nothing to do with DeLay’s troubles. Some had been planned months in advance.

Sullivan played a role in one of the transgressions for which the House ethics committee admonished against DeLay.

According to the ethics panel’s memorandum, DeLay asked Sullivan to track down the location of a plane that was ferrying Texas Democratic legislators to Oklahoma so that the Texas Republicans could not muster a quorum.

Sullivan called David Balloff, an official at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on May 12, 2004, and asked him to find the plane based on the tail number, N711RD, that DeLay had provided to her.

Sullivan did not tell him why she was inquiring about the plane, and he did not ask her why she wanted the information.

The next day, Sullivan sent Balloff an article in the Houston Chronicle about the redistricting dispute to, saying, “I thought you would find this article of interest.”

He later told the Department of Transportation’s inspector general, “I just felt like I had been used. I don’t do anything for political purposes.”

Sullivan declined to comment on the investigation.

Former Rep. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.), who now heads Akin Gump’s lobbying practice, said Sullivan’s actions “made no difference” in her hiring and did not even cross his mind.

Akin Gump has hired three senior GOP staffers and Tommy Thompson, former health and human services secretary, in recent weeks, adding to the Republican heft in its lobbying shop.

“It’s a 50-50 ratio today,” Paxon said, adding, “When I started, only 20 percent of the section was Republican.”

In addition to Thompson, the firm has recently hired Thompson’s counselor, Ladd Wiley, and Jeff McMillen, a former aide to Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.).

Paxon said Sullivan would not have specific issue portfolio but would help the firm’s clients, including AT&T, the National Cable Television Association, Ford Motor Company, Boeing, and PhRMA develop legislative strategy.

Sullivan, 34, started in DeLay’s whip office six years ago, handling appropriations issues. Before that, she worked for Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.).