Molinari tunes out post as RIAA topper

Headaches cause solon to pull out

WASHINGTON — The search continues for Hilary Rosen’s replacement as the Recording Industry Assn. of America’s top lobbyist.

One finalist, former Long Island Rep. Susan Molinari, pulled out of the running Friday. Hip and personable, Molinari surfaced as a serious contender weeks ago, but the RIAA continued to interview other candidates, while other prospects, like Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), begged off.

But weeks of waiting and the ongoing intrigue about the job created too many headaches for Molinari as questions streamed in from her current clients about whether she was planning to jump ship.

Besides, Molinari, who heads D.C. lobbying shop the Washington Group, is considering other business opportunities within the company and from other outside groups. And, because of ongoing buy-out negotiations at her current firm, she wouldn’t have been able to sign on until January.

Rosen left the position last week and insiders say the search process could continue for weeks.

Although she decided she wasn’t interested, Molinari was encouraged that the music industry is pursuing Republicans for the job. She dismissed arguments that conservatives would have a hard time defending the rights of artists like Marilyn Manson.

Republican candidates “may not like the songs, but they realize that it makes perfect sense for the trade association to be concerned about all piracy,” she said.

She also brushed aside claims that Hollywood is caving to a grand right-wing campaign led by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) to choose Republicans for their top Washington jobs.

“It just makes perfect sense for trade associations to try to attract senior Republican lawmakers right now,” she said. “There’s no strong-arming involved. It was the same way back in 1990 when the Democrats had controlled Congress for years and we weren’t complaining about it.”