With its 135-year legacy rooted in the historic Taft family that gave the country a U.S. President, Senator, and Supreme Court Chief Justice, together with other U.S. Senators and top-level U.S. Government officials, Taft Law is substantially expanding its existing group of government relations professionals in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois by establishing a new bipartisan and diverse federal and state Public Affairs Strategies Group (PASG) in the nation’s capital and its Midwestern markets.
The Taft Public Affairs Strategies Group (PASG) is comprised of several accomplished and highly acclaimed attorneys and advocates who recently joined Taft and who have extensive relationships with: (1) senior White House officials, (2) Congressional leaders and other members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, (3) federal executive branch officials, (4) state legislators and executive branch officials, and (5) mayors and other local officials throughout the Midwest. The group will be engaged in federal, state, and local legislative and executive branch lobbying and consulting, along with developing federal, state, and local legislative, executive branch, and other related strategies on behalf of Taft clients.
The new group includes the following roster of Taft partners and professionals:
- Lacy M. Johnson is a preeminent, senior lawyer, who served on the Biden-Harris transition team, was a member of Vice President Harris’s Midwest Finance team, and is a trusted advisor and supporter of many Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) leaders and members. Prior to his private legal practice, Johnson served as a Lt. Colonel in the Indiana State Police, was a Lt. Commander of the U.S. Naval Intelligence Reserves, and served as the 7th District chairman of the Indiana State Democratic Party and as a delegate for the National Democratic party. He also is the past president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. Johnson will serve as the Partner-in-Charge of Taft’s Washington, DC office.
- John R. Hammond III also is a senior leading lawyer-lobbyist, who is a member of the Republican National Committee, serves on its executive committee, and is vice chair of its rules committee. He also serves on the national finance committee of the Republican Governors Association as well as on the executive board of the National Republican Lawyers Association. Hammond has helped shape a wide variety of public policies from state and local tax policy and environmental regulatory affairs to K-12 and higher education policy, tort reform, transportation, insurance, and economic development issues. He is a former top adviser to Indiana Gov. Robert Orr (R), for whom he was chief legislative director and education policy advisor.
- Kyle J. Hupfer is a highly respected business executive and corporate lawyer with deep national and state political relationships. He is the chairman of the Indiana Republican Party and serves as a member of and general counsel for the Republican National Committee. In 2020, Hupfer served as campaign manager to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) in his successful re-election campaign. Prior senior business roles include chief administrative officer and general counsel of IMMI in Westfield, Ind., and vice president and general counsel of ProLiance Energy in Indianapolis. Hupfer previously served as the director of the Indiana DNR and chairman of the Indiana State Fair Commission under Gov. Mitch Daniels (R).
- G. Frederick Glass is a Taft corporate business and transaction lawyer, who joined the firm in 2020, and serves as a senior strategic advisor to his clients as a member of the firm’s Business and Finance practice. He most recently served as the athletic director at Indiana University for nearly 12 years. He also previously served as chief of staff for former Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh (D), and president of the Marion County Capital Improvement Board, where he led successful negotiations to keep the Colts in Indianapolis, regularly host NCAA Final Fours, develop Lucas Oil Stadium, and expand the Indiana Convention Center. Glass will serve in a strategic advisory role with the Taft PASG.
- Mark I. Shublak, who serves as the Republican co-chair of Taft’s PASG, is a trusted legal advisor and has more than 25 years of experience in a wide range of legislative, regulatory, and procurement matters at all levels of government. Corporate executives, business association leaders, public sector entities, and important non-profit organizations regularly turn to him for his high-level strategic advice, legal counsel, and ability to assist their organizations with overcoming challenges and creating opportunities posed by government. Shublak concentrates much of his practice on state and local legislative advocacy, government contracts, regulatory matters, administrative law, public policy, and political strategy.
- Carl L. Drummer, who serves as the Democratic co-chair of Taft’s PASG, was elected Center Township Trustee of Marion County, Ind., in 1996 after the Hon. Julia Carson (D-IN) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the youngest African-American to hold a political office at that time in Marion County, in either political party. Drummer served as deputy trustee under Hon. Carson from 1991-1993. Drummer also has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement. His major lobbying matters in Indianapolis have included the Citizens Energy Group water purchase, the city's parking meter deal, the soccer stadium, and mass transit.
- Graham Y. Hill, a veteran attorney and lobbyist with three decades of Washington, DC experience, focuses his practice at the crossroads of complex legislative process and policy with political issues involving the U.S. Congress, the executive branch, and the courts. He has held multiple senior staff positions in the U.S. Congress, including as committee staff director, senior committee counsel, and senior counsel for oversight and investigations. He is nationally recognized for his expertise in transportation infrastructure and energy infrastructure policy. His substantive knowledge of authorization, appropriations, and budget legislative processes brings a practitioner’s expertise to his client’s needs. Hill has also worked at the Republican National Committee, as a senate-confirmed appointee in the Bush administration, and currently serves on a joint department of interior and agriculture federal advisor council. Hill also serves on the boards of several national organizations.
- Clayton J. Heil, a highly experienced public affairs lawyer, has worked in and around Congress for over 25 years. Heil works closely with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on a variety of matters, with a particular focus on the appropriations committees, to successfully advocate for client interests and priorities. As a former committee counsel, he is regularly called upon to draft bill and report language for use in the annual House and Senate Appropriations bills. Heil worked in the U.S. Senate for 12 years, where he held several high-level staff positions for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and on the Senate appropriations committee, rising to the position of deputy staff director and general counsel for the full committee.
- Martin E. Edwards III, a veteran Capitol Hill lobbyist, served as legislative director to one of the top members on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. He works closely with legislators to contribute to environmental, cybersecurity, and energy policy legislation. Edwards also spent 20 years leading legislative affairs for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. He has decades of legislative and political experience, including creating strategic goals and priorities for clients, organizing lobbying and political activities, and ensuring compliance with federal guidelines. In each of the last 17 years, Edwards has been named as a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill newspaper.
- Chou-il Lee, an experienced litigator and public affairs attorney who joined Taft in 2012, concentrates his practice on a wide variety of matters involving municipalities. Having worked for multiple Indiana counties, cities, and towns before joining Taft, including serving eight years as corporation counsel for the City of Terre Haute, he understands the practical challenges faced by all branches of municipal government and the attorneys who represent them.
- Ann E. Cottongim, Taft’s director of municipal and legislative relations, joined the firm in 2018 and focuses her time and talents on objectives involving local and state government affairs by maintaining and nurturing relationships with municipal, county, and state officials. Cottongim also served as deputy director and chief financial officer of Aim (Accelerate Indiana Municipalities).
- Mary E. Wells joins Taft as the PASG executive assistant. She served as executive assistant to former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his Chief of Staff Josh Pitcock. She held various administrative positions in the offices of former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) and former U.S. Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-IN).
- Laura J. Brown will serve as the PASG executive coordinator. She served as executive assistant to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) and worked for several executives prior to her service in state government.
- Stephania Rodriguez Villegas has taken on the role of PASG’s compliance manager. She has previous law firm experience, along with public affairs experience in the Indiana State House.
“This all-star team – with its diverse set of players – combined with our network of attorneys in state capitals, primarily located in the Midwest, allows us to provide legislative and executive branch strategies and solutions for our clients at the federal, state, and local levels,” Taft Chairman and Managing Partner Robert J. Hicks said. “Promoting and maintaining genuine diversity is something many firms strive to do but rarely accomplish the way that Taft has done with this skilled, racially, ethnically, and politically diverse group of professionals. We also look forward to adding even more talent in the coming weeks and months.”
Taft’s PASG primarily will be working from Taft’s offices in Washington, DC and Indianapolis, but intends to expand its physical presence and substantive reach throughout Taft’s other Midwestern offices in Minneapolis, Chicago, and four cities in Ohio. For its federal work in Washington, DC, the Taft PASG offices will be located at 101 Constitution Ave., NW to engage in developing winning strategies and advocating for its clients before the U.S. Congress, the White House, and executive branch agencies. The federal policy team will be led by Democrat Johnson and Republicans Hill and Heil, with Edwards, Hammond, and Hupfer also playing key roles in providing government affairs advisory services.
“Our team of professionals routinely works at federal, state, and local levels with lawmakers and government officials – on both sides of the aisle – to implement strategies and to achieve solutions for our clients. The depth of experience on this team will allow us to draw upon our seasoned and extensive careers in public service and politics to work on behalf of Taft’s clients to achieve unparalleled results. Our top-flight Washington, DC practice is built upon the work ethic and results-oriented mindset that come from our Midwestern roots,” Taft Partner John R. Hammond III said.
Taft plans to strategically hire more top public affairs practitioners in the coming months in Washington, DC and other Taft markets, with particular emphasis on expanding its public affairs advisory work in the government contracting area as well as the energy, environmental, IT and data privacy, and health care industries.
“Having a balanced and diverse group is even more essential today in our federal work,” Taft Partner Lacy M. Johnson said. “The amount of positive change happening in our nation’s capital and throughout the United States during the coming months and years will have a significant impact on many businesses and industries. Our mission is to be uniquely positioned as the trusted and strategic advisor to our clients to help them navigate that change, especially given the increased emphasis on achieving national bipartisan solutions in the Biden administration and the 117th Congress.”
The Taft PASG adds to Taft’s existing government relations professionals in Ohio (Chris L. Connelly, Steven R. Cuckler, George Glover, and Charles R. Saxbe) and Illinois (Lawrence J. Suffredin).
Diversity is a core value and hallmark of Taft and plays an important role in attracting top talent and serving clients. In 2020, Taft was awarded Mansfield Certification Plus status, which rigorously measured whether law firms affirmatively considered at least 30% women, racial, and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions. Working Mother Magazine also recognized Taft’s support of working moms, naming it one of the “Best Law Firms for Women” in 2020.
The Taft PASG’s diverse team exemplifies Taft’s sustained growth and the success of its lateral attorney recruitment strategy. Ninety-four percent of lateral attorneys hired since 2015 remain on the Taft team. The firm also has strengthened and expanded its client service capabilities via mergers under the strong Taft brand in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis during the last 12 years. Since 2017, the firm has grown to approximately 625 attorneys, up from 400.
Learn more about Taft and the new members of the team by visiting the Public Affairs Strategies Group.