WASHINGTON — The Motion Picture Assn. of America has a new sweetheart in Washington.
Starting Valentine’s Day, John Feehery, a longtime GOP aide who’s currently chief spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), will become the MPAA’s exec veep in charge of communications in Washington.
Some congressional Republicans and their allies were infuriated when the MPAA hired Democrat Dan Glickman to replace departing Jack Valenti, and Republican perceptions of a liberal bias in Hollywood only increased in the last presidential election. Feehery’s hiring could help reverse or lessen that perception among the Republican leadership.
Feehery had said late last year that he would be leaving Capitol Hill after 15 years of working for senior Republicans, including Bob Michel of Illinois and Tom DeLay of Texas. Rumors and reports that the MPAA was talking to him about a job have circulated since.
Feehery’s reputation for being even-handed despite solid party loyalty will make him a valuable asset to an org seeking favorable consideration from a GOP-controlled Congress in which Democratic votes still figure prominently.
“John knows every soul on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of the Capitol building,” said Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), a member of the House Ways & Means committee and head of the House GOP Entertainment Caucus. “He isn’t just a Republican, but someone who has a lot of personal relationships with many members. He’s a superb hire.”
“It always helps when they put in people well known on our side of the aisle,” Foley said.
Last year Glickman hired Stacey Carlson, who had once worked for him at a blue-chip Washington law firm, to handle governmental affairs. Carlson had Republican credentials — she was a GOP aide on the House Administration Committee, a member of George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign and, most recently, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rep in Washington.
But Carlson was not widely known among Republican leaders, and her new position within the MPAA was not considered senior enough, so her hiring failed to placate them.