Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 17, 2012

Unusual team

Former heads of 2 parties now are united as lobbyists

The Independent

ASHLAND — At a time when leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in Kentucky and on the national level often sound and act like mortal enemies, Ellen Williams and Terry McBrayer are marching to the beat of a different drummer.

While we’re confident Williams, the former state Republican Party chairwoman, and McBrayer, the former chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, disagree on many issues, their differences did not prevent them from teaming up as lobbyists in Frankfort.

MML&K Government Solutions Director Sean Cutter announced Monday Williams has joined the firm headed by McBrayer, the former legislator from Greenup County who served as speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives and was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor.

While it has been many years since McBrayer served in the House, he has remained a powerbroker in Frankfort and chaired the state Democratic Party when Paul Patton was elected governor. Although McBrayer lives in Lexington, his law firm has offices in both Lexington and Greenup County.

Williams served as commissioner of the Governor’s Office for Local Development when Gov. Ernie Fletcher was governor, and she has also worked under Republicans as a congressional aide and a White House aide.

While having a well-known and influential Democrat and Republican in the same firm may sound a bit odd, it also makes sense. Lobbyists must work with legislators from both parties as they advocate for the causes for which they are paid to use their legislative skills and influence to help enact laws, or in some cases, to prevent bills they oppose from being approved.

Also, not every issue is divided along strict political lines. While there are always a few bills in which there is much disagreement, many bills are enacted with little or no opposition. Without surrendering their support for their parties, we can see McBrayer and Williams working together as effective lobbyists on many issues. Just having them in the same firm is a positive sign it is possible for people who don’t always agree to work together for the common good.