WASHINGTON Retiring U.S. Sen. Don Nickles will head a lobbying and business venture company called The Nickles Group when he retires in January, he said Tuesday.
"I'm looking forward to it, Nickles said in an interview. "It will be kind of fun to start a business from scratch.
The company's core mission will be political and business consulting, but Nickles said he may get into other ventures, including real estate investing and philanthropic work.
"I want to have the flexibility to do a lot of things, he said.
He said he wants to be successful and "to do things of significance ... to champion some causes that will make a difference in people's lives.
Nickles, R-Ponca City, has served in the Senate for 24 years.
He may team up with Democrat
In forming his own company, he hasn't foreclosed other partnerships, he said. There has been widespread speculation he would set up a lobbying and consulting business with retiring Louisiana Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat.
Nickles said he hasn't ruled out working with Breaux in some capacity. He said he felt the need to get going on his own plans while Breaux was still weighing options.
Nickles follows other former Oklahoma lawmakers who have parlayed experience and influence into private sector positions here. Former Reps. J.C. Watts and Bill Brewster run companies with Washington offices and represent clients before Congress and federal agencies. Watts' company also has business development and investment components.
Former Reps. Steve Largent, Dave McCurdy and Glenn English, and former Gov. Frank Keating run large trade associations headquartered in the Washington area.
Brewster, who heads the Capitol Hill Consulting Group, said Tuesday he thinks Nickles will do very well.
Nickles' abilities and strong pro-business attitude are well known, Brewster said.
One of the biggest challenges, Brewster said, is the 12-month ban on newly retired lawmakers meeting with former colleagues.
Nickles won't necessarily have to compete for clients already committed to other firms, Brewster said, because many companies use multiple lobbyists.
"They look for people with particular expertise and particular friendships, Brewster said.
Nickles, outgoing chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the tax-writing Finance Committee, held several leadership positions in the Senate, rising to be the second ranking Republican in the hierarchy.
"We still have some influence in the Senate, he said.
Two of Nickles' longtime staff members will join him as principals Hazen Marshall and Stacey Hughes. A former staff member, Cindi Merifield Tripodi, also will be a principal. Jody Hernandez, who worked for Nickles on the Budget Committee and in the assistant majority leader's office, also will work for the company.
Nickles said he was excited about starting anew in private life.
"I love the private sector, and I love public policy, he said in a prepared statement. "This is the ideal fusion of the two.Archive ID: 2165863