Musical Chairs, Politics

Musical Chairs: Former Florida Senator Mel Martinez to DLA Piper

melmartinez.jpgLast month, DLA Piper lost a prominent former lawmaker from its ranks when Dick Armey had to step down due to controversy over his remarks about healthcare reform. This week, DLA has a new Republican to tout: former U.S. Senator Mel Martinez.
Martinez, who hails from the Sunshine State, announced last month that he was ending his senatorial term early. From the BLT:

A Florida Republican and the first Cuban-American elected to the Senate, Martinez announced in August that he would resign with more than a year remaining on his first term, saying that “it’s time I return to Florida and my family.”

The BLT says Martinez will be a partner in DLA’s offices in both Washington and Tampa, though in DLA’s press release Martinez emphasizes the time he’ll be spending in Florida: “Working in DLA Piper’s offices in Florida, I look forward to helping the firm grow its practice in Latin America and collaborating with a team of distinguished lawyers and professionals with the highest level of legislative knowledge and diplomatic skill.”
Specifically, Martinez might want to help DLA Piper grow its practice in Cuba. When Martinez resigned from Congress, he told the Washington Post:

“Even though I will no longer hold public office, my passion to work to see the day when people in Cuba will live in freedom will continue,” he said.

Over at Politico, Kenneth Vogel discusses the quick jump from the Hill to the Piper.

Politico’s Ken Vogel reports:

It used to be that lawmakers were coy about any ideas they had about heading for K Street, waiting until their terms ended before announcing they were beginning a more lucrative career.
But in recent years, members of Congress planning to become lobbyists have not been able to wait. In fact, when Florida Republican Mel Martinez this week accepted a position with the mega-lobbying and law firm DLA Piper — less than two weeks after resigning from the Senate — it brought to five the number of former lawmakers since 2007 who have abandoned their constituents midterm and almost immediately resurfaced with lobbying firms, according to data provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

DLA Piper partner Ignacio Sanchez stressed to BLT that no outreach was made until after Martinez had bid public service farewell.

“When he announced he was going to retire and let the governor appoint someone to finish out the term, I immediately talked to him and said, you really ought to consider looking at our firm. I think you would really do well, and we would love to have you,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he and Martinez have known each other for more than 20 years, since both were lawyers in Florida and became involved in Cuban-American issues.
Sanchez said Martinez had a “meet and greet” with people from DLA Piper before leaving office, but “no financial terms, no offer, no details” were discussed until after he had stepped down from the Senate.

No pushed back start date for Mel Martinez. His first day at DLA Piper is October 1.
Former Sen. Martinez Joins DLA Piper [BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Martinez heads straight to K Street [Politico]
Sen. Martinez Takes a Bow [Washington Post]

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