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GOP Lobbyist Resigns Prominent Post

The Republicans' so-called "K Street Project" has taken another hit with the recent resignation of a prominent GOP lobbyist who earned his post after former colleagues on Capitol Hill tried to force his Democratic predecessor out.

Dan Crowley, the head of government affairs for the Investment Company Institute, a consortium of mutual funds, has resigned that post to start his own firm, according to a widely distributed e-mail sent Monday by the group's president, Paul Schott Stevens.

The one-time aide to former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) joined the group in 2003 after former aides to then-House Financial Services Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) pressured the mutual fund industry to replace its top lobbyist, Democrat Julie Domenick, with a Republican.

At the time, the industry was under fire from Oxley and other Republicans for the fees some mutual funds charged customers and for providing investors with insufficient information about internal operations.

Crowley is often cited as an example of the Republicans' so-called "K Street Project," a loosely coordinated effort to fill prominent lobbying jobs with GOP lawmakers and aides. The effort was both real and imagined; Senate Republicans created a database to track which associations and trade groups had hired their GOP colleagues, but many of these groups filled their top posts with loyal Republicans as a voluntary nod to the party in power.

Democrats used the Domenick episode to charge Republicans with coercing downtown lobbying interests to support the party.

Crowley will stay on for the next two months "to help ensure a smooth transition of his responsibilities," Stevens said in the e-mail.

The group has retained the executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International to find his replacement, and ICI spokesman F. Gregory Ahern said the group has "no prediliction" about hiring a Democrat over a Republican, or vice versa. ICI will consider internal and external candidates for the post, but Ahern did not offer any names.

The move has been under way for "some time," Ahern said, and Crowley told many of his colleagues that he planned to leave before Stevens sent his e-mail. The ICI spokesman would not give any timeframe for finding a new head of government affairs.

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