Annapolis Lobbying Shake-Out Continues

One week after a handful of government relations professionals abruptly left a leading Annapolis lobbying firm – an unusual mass departure shrouded in mystery – they announced Monday that they are hanging their own shingle. The venerable lobbying firm countered by hiring a new director of its government relations practice. But mystery continues to surround the professional fate of the firm’s previous government relations director – who happens to be married to the lead partner of the new lobbying shop.

Maryland Matters reported last week that Alexander & Cleaver, one of the most prominent legal and government affairs shops in Annapolis for more than two decades, had been shaken by the departures of some of its top lobbyists. On Monday, five of those lobbyists – Hannah Powers Garagiola, Tyler Bennett, Moira Moynihan Cyphers, Isaac Meyer and Alexandra Shull – announced that they have formed Compass Government Relations Partners LLC, with offices in Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. It will become one of the few women-owned firms in the highly competitive world of Annapolis lobbying. Hannah Powers Garagiola

In an interview, Garagiola said she and her colleagues have a variety of political and legislative experience and a range of policy expertise. “It’s an enthusiastic group – a lot of energy, a lot of diversity,” she said. Garagiola said the firm is starting with more than a dozen clients. She declined to name them but said announcements would be forthcoming. Garagiola also declined to say what the professional status of her husband, former state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola, is – except that he is not working for Compass. Rob Garagiola had been the director of the government relations practice at Alexander & Cleaver, and was reportedly part of last week’s mass exodus. Last week, A&C’s partners, Gary R. Alexander and James Cleaver, held open the possibility of legal action against the firm’s departed lobbyists.  Brian W. Hammock

Alexander announced late Friday that Brian W. Hammock, most recently a vice president at CSX Transportation, would become the firm’s managing attorney of the government relations practice. “Brian has been a trusted advisor to Maryland’s top elected officials and business leaders over the past two decades,” Alexander said in a memo. Prior to working for CSX, Hammock was a top adviser to then-Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D), both in the State House and when O’Malley was mayor of Baltimore. He also worked for Venable LLC, the law and lobbying firm. Early in his career, he worked for Alexander & Cleaver, making his return “a coming home of sorts,” Alexander said in the memo.

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.


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