Illinois, the state that first sent Barack Obama to Washington, celebrated his second inaugural Saturday night at the Marriott Renaissance downtown. On hand for the Illinois State Society gala were Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, congressman Aaron Schock (who serves as the society's president), representative Tammy Duckworth, and former White House chief of staff Bill Daley.
The walls of the hotel's large ballroom were transformed into a silhouette of the Chicago skyline. And portraits of former Illinois governors ringed the reception hall where guests bid on silent auction items, including a framed photograph of President Obama greeting the 2010 National Hockey League champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, at the White House.
Perhaps in keeping with these austere times, food and drink were modest in proportion and ambition. While guests mingled and munched on mini mushroom quiches and hummus, First Lady Michelle Obama was across the street at DC's convention center, participating in a concert for military families featuring Usher and Katy Perry. At the gala, guests were invited to sign a large banner offering well wishes to military service members.
How much transition is there for an incumbent President who has been reelected? After all, he’s already there, his staff is essentially in place, and he knows his way around the White House. In terms of process and basics, how does the first term differ from the second, and is there anything similar to the honeymoon accorded a first-term President?
We took these questions and more to Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson State University. She is a presidency scholar who focuses in particular on the issues of transition, as well as the relationship between administration officials and the White House press corps*. She is currently working on a new book, Mapping the Glide Path to Power: The 2008-2009 Presidential Transition.
American billionaires are getting richer. In its new list of the richest American billionaires, Forbes notes that the dozen on the magazine’s cover, including Washington’s David Rubenstein and Steve Case, are worth a combined $126 billion. The combined net worth of the 400 Americans who make up the full list is $1.7 trillion. Furthermore, back when the list started in 1982, the cutoff for the list was a net worth of $75 million. Now it’s $1.1 billion.
Though K Street is known as the hub of Washington’s influence industry, few major lobby shops actually reside along the famous power corridor anymore. That’s nothing new—many law and lobbying firms moved to DC’s West End in the 1980s. Later that decade and into the ’90s, they began venturing to Pennsylvania Avenue near Metro Center. As the lobbying industry grew, so did its real-estate needs, and there was only so much room on K Street. “There was no place else to go,” says Jay Epstien, chair of the US real-estate practice at DLA Piper, who has represented numerous firms in leasing new space. In fact, of the ten highest-earning lobbying firms in Washington, shown here, only one has a K Street address.
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This article appears in the September 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.
The Supreme Court recently wrapped up a monumental term, and the lawyers at the helm of the year’s highest-profile cases were, of course, solicitor general Donald Verrilli and conservative wunderkind Paul Clement. But they were in good company. Here’s a look at the stars of the term.
In both the Arizona and health-care cases, the soft-spoken Verrilli faced off against Clement, widely considered by his peers to be one of the most skilled oral advocates of the Supreme Court bar. Though he didn’t win either case, Clement—solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration and now a partner at Bancroft—has cemented his position as the Republican Party’s preeminent lawyer.
The head of Akin Gump’s Supreme Court practice delivered her 31st argument before the justices, making her the only woman in history to log that many at the high court. She broke the record—previously held by Arnold & Porter’s Lisa Blatt—in April, in a case concerning government land intended to be used for an Indian tribe’s casino. Millett lost the case 8-1 but won a place in history.
No lawyer currently in private practice has argued more times at the Supreme Court than Phillips, and he had his best term yet. He hit two milestones in March when he argued his 75th case before the justices and on the same day moved for the admission of his daughter, Latham & Watkins associate Jessica Phillips, into the Supreme Court Bar. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” says Phillips. “It did make the 75th argument kind of anticlimactic.” Phillips hit argument number 76 later in the term.
Though Goldstein argued two cases at the high court, it wasn’t his work as a lawyer that made this such an exceptional term for him. The Goldstein & Russell name partner’s other enterprise—SCOTUSblog, a website devoted to coverage of the court—had a record-shattering term, thanks to the health-care reform case. Goldstein and his team became the go-to source during decision days, live-blogging the action as the justices announced their rulings. On the June morning the health-care ruling came down, roughly a million readers tuned in to the site’s live feed. By day’s end, SCOTUSblog had 5.3 million visits. “This certainly isn’t anything we could have dreamed of,” says Goldstein, who started SCOTUSblog with his wife, lawyer Amy Howe, a decade ago.
Though President Obama’s solicitor general faced withering reviews from many court-watchers following his shaky performance in the case to determine whether the Affordable Care Act was constitutional, he came out on top when the justices voted 5-4 to uphold Obama’s health-care reform bill. And in the court’s other blockbuster case, over Arizona’s controversial immigration law, he also emerged largely victorious. What could have been a disastrous term for Verrilli turned out to be a landmark year in his career.
This article appears in the August 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.
He’s the longest-serving councillor, its most prolific fundraiser, represents the District’s most affluent areas, is a darling of the business community, and has a relatively* clean image ethically—in short, Jack Evans seems like he’d have it made in a citywide bid for mayor. Except that he’s got one minor electoral flaw: He’s white.
Nevertheless, with DC Mayor Vince Gray on the ropes, the Ward 2 councillor sees a narrow window that might just allow him to sneak through to the Promised Land and, as the Chocolate City becomes ever less chocolate, deliver the first white mayor to the Wilson Building since Home Rule. It would require an alignment of the fates in the following manner:
His best (and probably only) path to victory is a special election, which is a free-for-all not tied to party affiliation. Independents and Republicans could vote along with the huge Democratic majority, giving Evans a wider pool from which to draw votes.
Not all the political players fled town for the July Fourth holiday. Spotted at Cafe Milano last night were bipartisan heavyweights, each taking a corner at opposite ends of the room. Senate majority leader Harry Reid and a female companion had the number-one power table, certainly the restaurant’s most visible, in the front corner across from the entrance. He was dressed casually in a sports shirt, their drinks appeared to be nonalcoholic, and their entrées were fish.
We wondered if Reid’s somber deportment was a result of the heat or disappointment that his candidate for the Major League All-Star game, Bryce Harper, didn’t make the cut, coming in third. Earlier Reid took to Twitter to shout his support for Harper: “Let’s send this Nevadan to KC!” Maybe next year. (Let it be said, Harper doesn’t need the All-Star game to prove to Washington he’s got the juice.)
Nobody understands the turmoil the legal industry has endured recently better than Marc Schildkraut. The prominent antitrust lawyer is practicing at his third collapsing law firm in four years. As of mid-May, Schildkraut is a partner in the Washington office of Dewey & LeBoeuf, a New York-based firm born of the 2007 merger between Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. In Washington, Dewey had more than 100 lawyers. But in recent months, more than half of its 300 partners have left amid falling profits. One reported factor in Dewey’s downfall was its habit of overpromising what it could pay partners. It’s nearly certain Dewey won’t survive.
The scene is familiar for Schildkraut. He joined Dewey & LeBoeuf in March of last year, days after his former firm, Howrey, dissolved. By the time Schildkraut left Howrey, the lawyers there were in chaos. “When Howrey imploded, these partners were getting calls not only from multiple recruiters representing different firms but directly from partners they knew at interested firms,” says Washington legal recruiter Stephen Nelson. “The combination of a short time frame and the absence of a trusted adviser could lead to an overly hasty decision.”
By Carol Ross Joynt
Robert Zoellick has been head of the World Bank for the past five years, a position he's giving up willingly next month amid rumors he will become an advisor to likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. He's also worked, in one capacity or another, for five presidents: Clinton, Ford, Reagan, and both Bushes. He says, "My true love is history, but I didn't know how I could make a living at it." Instead he chose public service, with a few side trips in business (Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae), academia (US Naval Academy professor), and politics (the campaign of George W. Bush).