WASHINGTON — A top Democrat who was former President Clinton’s liaison on Capitol Hill is the leading contender to head AOL Time Warner’s busy lobbying operation in Washington, ending months of uncertainty about the personnel lineup in the crucial office.
The appointment of congressional veteran Susan Anne Brophy would end AOL Time Warner’s nearly yearlong search for a lobbyist to replace Timothy Boggs. Widely respected, Boggs was Time Warner’s man about Washington for nearly two decades before announcing that he would resign once the merger papers were signed.
On Tuesday, a company spokeswoman said AOL Time Warner would make an announcement about the post in the next week but declined comment regarding Brophy or any other person.
Industryites said Brophy’s name has been circulating in recent days as the top choice.
If tapped, Brophy would report to Robert Kimmitt, recently named exec VP for global and strategic policy. He replaced George Vradenberg, who is now an adviser to top AOL Time Warner execs.
Vradenberg and Kimmitt said they intended to continue the search for a top exec to parallel the job done by Boggs. Kimmitt’s position is more focused on global strategies.
AOL Time Warner exec Jill Lessor has filled in for Boggs, keeping lines open with congressional solons and other key parties, such as the Motion Picture Assn. of America (MPAA). Lessor, the mother of young children, will now work part-time, the AOL Time Warner spokeswoman said.
The comings and goings from the AOL Time Warner lobbying shop have been tough for the entertainment/media community in Washington — as well as for the conglom’s divisions, which include Warner Bros.
Vradenburg got off to a bumpy start with entertainment lobbyists and the MPAA, in part because Boggs was so widely respected. Not long after Boggs left, two other TW lobbyists also exited, making the transition all the more difficult. Brophy’s appointment is expected to bring some measure of relief.
Also, Brophy would balance Kimmitt’s strong ties to the GOP. A longtime Republican, Kimmitt is close to President Bush’s advisers, including veep Dick Cheney, as well as the president himself.
Most recently, Brophy lived in Portugal where her husband, top telecom lawyer Gerald McGowan, was appointed ambassador in 1998. Brophy launched her political career in the mid-1970s working for Lt. Gov. Thomas P. O’Neill in Massachusetts. She served on several presidential campaigns, including Walter Mondale’s 1984 bid and Michael Dukakis’ 1988 bid.
Amassing solid Capitol Hill experience, she worked for then-Rep. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) — now a U.S. Senator — and former Sen. Tim Worth (D-Colo.).
After working on the Clinton campaign in 1992, Brophy became White House deputy director of legislative affairs.