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At-Large Councilmember David Grosso has been recusing himself from votes left and right in recent weeks, and this morning we found out why. He will join Arent Fox as a lobbyist when his term expires in early January, the firm announced in a news release.
In his new gig, Grosso will “advise clients in real estate, hospitality, education, health care, arts, and cannabis industries,” according to the firm’s announcement. Arent Fox represents several charter schools, nonprofits, and businesses with matters before the Council.
He joins other former councilmembers who became lobbyists, including John Ray, David Catania, and Vincent Orange. Orange’s post-Council job came with a touch of scandal, as he tried to lead the DC Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies for business interests, while serving out the end of his term.
Grosso is at the end of his second term as a D.C. councilmember and opted not to run for re-election. Christina Henderson, his former staffer, will replace him after she defeated a large field of candidates, including Orange, in November.
Ethics rules prohibit Grosso from lobbying his former colleagues or staffers for at least a year and up to a lifetime, depending on the issue and the client.
He says at first he will likely function as more of a subject matter expert on issues he’s worked on throughout his career, such as healthcare and cannabis. He notes that Arent Fox also has offices in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
“The job allows me to do something where I can keep hands in what’s happening in the city but expand my resume to things that might be interesting or different,” he says.
In a phone conversation this morning, Grosso ruled out the possibility of returning to elected office. “With the responsibility and opportunity comes a lot of people willing to give you a hard time,” he says. “Running for office now, you have to be a thick-skinned person willing to take a lot of heat, and I don’t want to do that again.”
Asked for his greatest accomplishments as a councilmember, Grosso touts a law that reformed the District’s school discipline practices and the paid family leave law that gives employees paid time off to care for themselves or sick family members. Grosso says he believes the city government is in a better place than when he was first elected in 2012, citing the new publicly financed campaigns and a stronger focus on ethics rules.
“Many councilmembers, when I started, had outside jobs and constituent services funds, and now I see a whole different Council, and I think it’s better for our city,” he says.
He chatted with LL after swapping his D.C. councilmember vehicle tags for specialty environmental tags that support clean-up of the Anacostia River.
“I’m driving a Honda hybrid so I thought I might as well support the environment,” he says. “I do love the environment.”