From the state government to the ‘shadow government’

Mega-lobbying firm McGuireWoods Consulting added a major player to their formidable bench Tuesday, signing up former GOP House Speaker Bill Howell.

“Since it was founded 20 years ago, McGuireWoods Consulting has earned a well-deserved reputation for consistently delivering successful outcomes for clients. Many of my new colleagues there have been friends for years, and I am honored to join such an outstanding and respected group of professionals,” Howell said.

The firm, known around the Capitol as the “shadow government” for its stroke with state lawmakers, includes a sprawling roster of clients that ranges from American Airlines and Apple to Koch Industries, fish-oil reduction titan Omega Protein, Smithfield Foods and State Farm Insurance Co.

Howell, first elected to the House of Delegates in 1987, spent 15 years as speaker before retiring in 2017 and will be a “senior adviser in a non-lobbying role,” the firm said in a news release.

“He will advise clients on government relations and public affairs strategies in Virginia and state capitals across the country,” McGuireWoods said. He joins a roster that presently includes a slew of former high-ranking Virginia state officials: secretaries of education, the commonwealth, administration and natural resources and a chief of staff to a governor and senator from Virginia, to list some.

In another match made in the hallways of the GA: Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican from James City County, will tie the knot with his lobbyist girlfriend, Angela Bezik, Patrick Wilson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Bezik lobbies on behalf of Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, the City of Virginia Beach, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and Verified Voting, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Robert Zullo
Robert has been winning and losing awards as a reporter and editor for 13 years at weekly and daily newspapers, beginning at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., where he was a staff writer and managing editor. He spent five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former waiter, armored car guard and appliance deliveryman, he is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact him at [email protected]