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A Little More Vodka, Mr. Mehlman?

The Russian flag on the corner of Akin Gump’s “public law and policy” Web page says it all. The firm’s eminence grise, Robert Strauss, was the US ambassador to Moscow in 1991 and 1992, and ever since, Akin Gump has been pulling in millions in fees for both advising US businesses on how to deal with Russia and representing Russian-based companies like oil giant Lukoil.

This month Akin Gump announced that Ken Mehlman, former head of the Republican National Committee and former director of political affairs for George W. Bush, is returning to the firm.

At many firms this might be a big deal, but at Akin Gump Mehlman will just be another fish in the pond. Akin Gump has compiled as formidable a shadow government as possible to ease controversial Russian projects through US regulators and Congress.

The firm already has a former Speaker of the House, Thomas Foley. Vic Fazio, who was Foley’s whip in the House, is now his whip at Akin Gump. Bill Paxon, who left the House after staging a failed political coup against Speaker Newt Gingrich, is at Akin Gump. Lawyers say Foley keeps an eye on him.

Former North Carolina senator Lauch Faircloth represents the upper body at Akin Gump. Former Wisconsin governor and presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson runs the Akin Gump version of the Past Governors’ Association, and then there’s former presidential counselor Vernon Jordan.

Welcome aboard, Ken Mehlman. It takes a lot of US help to make Russia run.

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