Stearns takes job with lobbying firm


In this Aug. 10, 2009 file photo, former U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns waves to seniors while touring Marion County as part of his Healthcare Tour.

Doug Engle/Star-Banner
Published: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:18 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:18 a.m.

OCALA — Former Congressman Cliff Stearns has left Congress, but not Washington politics.

On Monday, the 24-year House veteran from Ocala will launch his new career with a high-powered Washington lobbying firm, according to executives at APCO Worldwide, which announced the hiring of Stearns on Friday.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.



"Cliff adds extensive expertise in telecommunications and international trade to APCO, and I am delighted to welcome him to our dynamic team, where I know he will be a great resource for our clients," APCO founder Margery Kraus said in a statement.

The firm welcomed Stearns for his experience in issues involving telecommunications, technology, cybersecurity and international trade.

Stearns spent 20 years of his career on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. During that time he chaired two of its subcommittees: the investigations panel and one overseeing matters related to interstate commerce, foreign trade and consumer protection.

Stearns also was the top Republican on the subcommittee dealing with telecommunications and the Internet, and he served on another subcommittee regulating manufacturing and trade.

"APCO's team has a great record in helping clients achieve their goals," Stearns said in a statement. "I look forward to contributing my breadth of experience in telecommunications and technology, as well as international trade, to such a strong team of former government officials, corporate communicators, business leaders and media experts."

The former lawmaker, an APCO representative said, will serve on the firm's International Advisory Council, a panel of more than 80 high-rollers. Other members of that group include Richard V. Allen, former national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan; Dan Glickman, a former congressman and secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton; Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to President George W. Bush; and Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico.

The council also includes at least a dozen former ambassadors, former senior executives — including members of companies such as Pepsico, Goldman Sachs, Kellogg's, Nike, Dow Corning, Pfizer and Eastman Kodak — a handful of former congressmen, a past president of Poland and a one-time member of the French Parliament.

Stearns, the firm's representative said, will not have a specific client list but will advise as necessary in the areas of telecommunications, cybersecurity and international trade.

Stearns left office on Thursday when the new Congress was sworn in.

He was narrowly defeated in the August Republican primary by now-U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, a Gainesville Republican.

Under House rules, according to a memo by Rep. Jo Bonner, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Stearns is not permitted to lobby any member or staffer of Congress for at least a year.

Those rules also bar him from seeking help from any federal official on behalf of a foreign government for the next 12 months.

Stearns, however, may under federal law advise others on how to lobby Congress as long as his role is confined to the background.

Stearns also is permitted to contact administration officials in order to promote his clients' interests, as long as he is not acting on behalf of a foreign government or foreign political party.

Stearns, according to Bonner's memo, also may meet socially with his former colleagues and donate to their campaigns but may not try to influence their positions on issues.

APCO represents an array of interests. Some of its clients include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cosco, Dow Corning, IKEA, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble.

APCO also has represented the Ford's Theatre Society, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the University of Southern California and World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., according to its website.

Kraus, the firm's founder, has been a political supporter of Stearns. She gave Stearns $1,000 in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, making him the only Republican to receive a contribution from Kraus.

Contact Bill Thompson at 867-4117.

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