WPP acquires Republican DC government relations firm

WASHINGTON - WPP Group's Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide officially stepped into the lobbying arena this week with its acquisition of the Federalist Group, a Washington, DC-based government relations firm.

The firms will merge their operations in Ogilvy's DC office by the end of the year, though TFG will continue to operate under its own name. It "has a lot of merit and caché in town," said Robert Mathias, MD of Ogilvy's DC office. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

TFG founder and CEO Stewart Hall will stay on board to lead the lobbying practice.

"We've been thinking about this for a while in terms of where we could get a marriage that would set us up for a sustainable growth curve for the future," Hall said. "We were fortunate enough that Ogilvy had never married up with another lobbying firm in town here."

Though known primarily as a right-wing shop, Mathias said that The Federalist Group is not "religiously Republican. ... What they are religious about is providing value to their clients. I would expect to see over the course of time the partisan makeup of the firm change."

During the past 15 years, large PR agencies have stayed busy acquiring lobbying shops in Washington. Ogilvy parent WPP already owns four major DC lobbying firms: Timmons and Co., Wexler & Walker, BKSH & Associates, and Quinn Gillespie & Associates.

The Federalist Group has 20 employees, including Wayne Berman, a former senior adviser to the Bush/Cheney transition team in 2001, John Green, former executive director of the New Republican Majority Fund, and Drew Maloney, a former top staffer to House Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-TX).

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