Inside Move: Buckley eyed by RIAA

Org active as search for topper continues

It’s been nearly a month since former RIAA topper Hilary Rosen ankled her post, but the music industry’s top lobbying shop shows no signs of slacking.

In the last week, the RIAA sent out more than 1,000 subpoenas aimed at computer users suspected of stealing music online. On Capitol Hill, its Washington reps worked to prove links between pirated CDs and terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and even Al Qaeda during a Wednesday hearing. The next day they were back to boost a House bill focused on beefing up the FBI’s ability to crack down on online copyright theft.

Buckley still in

All this occurred while rumors swirled that AOL Time Warner PR maven John Buckley has made the final cut in the search for Rosen’s replacement. Music industry sources confirmed that Buckley is on a “very short list” of candidates but warned that two or three other contenders are still in the running.

“It’s not a done deal,” one source said, noting that the RIAA would like to wrap up the months and months of interviewing and name a successor in the next few weeks.

The hunt for a new chief lobbyist began even before Rosen formally announced she was leaving, and the endless leaks and rumors have taken their toll.

Ready to act

“I personally have search fatigue,” one insider remarked. “I think we’re sick of all the talk. We just need a decision.”

For some in the industry, Buckley is an unlikely candidate. Before AOL, he was the communications director for Fannie Mae. Prior to that, he pitched for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee and Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign.

Those are strong GOP credentials for an org looking to appeal to the powers that be right now in Washington. But some of the decisionmakers are a little unsure about handing the $1 million-plus prestige job to a communications strategist.

Prominent candidates

Interviewing in some of the final rounds has included prominent Democrats Dan Glickman, former agriculture secretary and current director of Harvard U.’s Kennedy School of Government, and former president Clinton’s likable mouthpiece Mike McCurry.

Only weeks ago, the wishlist included Pentagon spinner Torie Clarke and powerful GOP Reps. Billy Tauzin (La.) and David Dreier (Calif.) as well as former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), all of whom took a pass.

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