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Denny Rehberg

Denny Rehberg

HELENA – Former Montana U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg has a new job in the public-policy arena, joining a Washington, D.C.-based “public strategy” firm that serves mostly business clients.

In an interview late last week, Rehberg said he became a co-chair for Mercury/Clark & Weinstock in its Washington office because he wants to stay involved in issues he cares about.

“I cannot give up on the issues that I’m passionate about,” he said. “That’s why I ran for (the Senate). I haven’t got it out of my system, that I wanted to do more. This is one way of keeping my toe in the water, on the issues that I really do care about.”

Rehberg, 57, a Republican, spent 12 years as Montana’s sole congressman, leaving office in January. He lost last year’s U.S. Senate contest in Montana to Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

Mercury/Clark is a national firm with offices in a half-dozen states and is part of Omnicom Group Inc., one of the largest public-relations and marketing firms in the nation.

Rehberg said he’s part of a bipartisan team that includes former Democratic and Republican public officials. He’ll be co-chair of Mercury’s D.C. office along with Vin Weber, a Republican former congressman from Minnesota, and Max Sandlin, a former Democratic congressman from Texas.

Rehberg, who officially joined the firm a month ago, said he expects to work on many issues and in many areas of public affairs, from grass-roots organizing to helping clients navigate the federal bureaucracy.

“I’ll be giving clients advice about things that are happening in Washington, D.C., and in Montana,” he said. “I’ll gravitate toward stuff that I’m interested in.”

Rehberg said one thing he won’t be doing is lobbying Congress, which ethics rules forbid.

While Rehberg won’t be doing any lobbying, Mercury/Clark & Weinstock reported $7.65 million in lobbying income for 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Its clients included railroads, airlines, investment groups, various businesses and state and local governments.

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Rehberg said he offers a broad range of experience in the

public-policy arena, such as his years as a congressman, including the chairmanship of an appropriations subcommittee that dealt with health, education and labor budgets, his involvement in campaigns and his business and agricultural background.

The job also appealed to him because it gives him enough the flexibility to live in Billings with his family, while working in Washington, D.C., when he needs to, he said.

Rehberg said two weekends ago, he was able to spend the weekend in Great Falls with his wife, Jan, and daughter, Elsie, a freshman at Billings West High School, at the state AA basketball tournaments.

“I can divide my time however I want,” he said. “I can live at the ranch in Billings and I won’t be traveling on weekends. … I just get to spend time with my family.”

— Mike Dennison is a reporter with the Lee Newspapers State Bureau. Email: mike.dennison@lee.net

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