WASHINGTON – Former Sen. Conrad Burns, whose ties to lobbyists helped sink his re-election bid, has landed at a new workplace: a Washington lobbying firm.
Burns will work for his former chief of staff, Leo Giacometto, at the firm Gage, which has lobbied for Montana interests and several national technology companies, often making headlines for its connections to Burns and his staff.
In the Montana Senate race, Democratic challenger Jon Tester pounded Burns on his ties to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the heart of an influence-peddling scandal. Burns had accepted about $150,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff, his clients and associates. He later gave that money away, and denied any wrongdoing.
Burns won't be able to become a lobbyist just yet, as Senate rules prevent former members from lobbying their ex-colleagues for one year. The Senate is now considering ethics legislation — partly prompted by the Abramoff scandal — that would bump that period to two years.
A statement from Gage said Burns will be a senior adviser to the firm, focusing on "increasing the firm's visibility and presence domestically and internationally to provide a greater reach of opportunities for Gage clients."