Barbour to return to lobbying firm


By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — When Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour leaves office Jan. 10, he'll return to the Washington, D.C., lobbying firm he founded in 1991

That's according to a person with direct knowledge of the plan who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Barbour's plans were not yet public.

The person said Wednesday that Barbour will return next month to the BGR Group, a government affairs, strategic communications and investment banking firm. The person said Barbour's new office is under construction in Washington, and newly hired people will work for him.

Barbour, who couldn't seek a third term as governor, has recently worn BGR golf shirts at public events, including at a Republican Governors Association meeting in Florida. BGR used to be called Barbour Griffith and Rogers.

"I don't have anything to announce," Barbour said through a spokeswoman Wednesday.

Barbour told AP on Monday that he'll be on the paid lecture circuit when he leaves office, and that he'll give his first such speech Jan. 11 in Miami, at an event sponsored by Barclays bank. He's being represented by Leading Authorities, a Washington firm that handles speech bookings and event planning.

In the AP interview Monday, Barbour said he will have business offices in Washington and Jackson after he leaves the governorship.

"The place that would make the most sense, that would be the most logical, would be BGR," he said.

He said he wanted to make sure BGR executives were comfortable with his plans to travel on the paid lecture circuit.

"I don't want to have any relationship with anybody unless everybody feels comfortable on the front end as to what I will and won't be able to do, because I'm not going to go back to doing what I used to do," Barbour said Monday. "I don't have the time, and I don't have the intention of working like I used to work. And they don't want me to. They understand that. I'm not going back to be CEO of the firm or anything like I was for a number of years."

Barbour, a Yazoo City native, was White House political director for President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and chaired the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997. As a lobbyist, he represented several high-profile clients, including tobacco and energy companies. He unseated a Democratic governor in his home state in November 2003.

Barbour said Leading Authorities called him last week to book the Jan. 11 speech, and he checked with the state Ethics Commission to see if he can schedule speeches now that he will give after leaving office.

Ethics Commission director Tom Hood said there are no prohibitions on Barbour's being paid for speeches after leaving office, as long as there is no relation between a speech payment and business he conducted as governor.

Barbour did not say how much he'll be paid, only that the fee will depend on how time-consuming the appearance is and how much travel is involved.

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