The father and son will open the firm in January. In an internal e-mail, Patton Boggs partner Thomas Boggs said he and Breaux are discussing ways for Breaux to continue working with Patton Boggs as counsel. A statement from Breaux included in the e-mail expressed gratitude to Patton Boggs, but said “the challenge and opportunity to start a new business with my son is something that I cannot pass up.”
Neither Breaux nor Boggs returned calls seeking comment. Stuart Pape, the firm’s managing partner, confirmed the legitimacy of the e-mail obtained by Legal Times, but said he could not otherwise comment.
The move comes after weeks of rumors about whether Breaux would stay with the firm after the end of the year, with well-sourced K Streeters buzzing about the fact that he had not yet renewed his contract. The announcement is also sure to juice already rampant speculation about a possible partnership between Breaux and Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who announced this week that he will retire from the Senate at the end of the year. Lott has not yet said what he will do next, but hasn’t ruled out lobbying and would be a high-profile hire for K Street. He and Breaux are close friends, and could form a powerful axis with deep ties to the Gulf Coast.
Lott’s son, Kentucky-based lobbyist Chester Lott, currently an affiliate of the Livingston Group, says his father honestly hasn’t yet decided what to do. In an interview with Legal Times a few hours before Breaux’s announcement, when asked if the two might go into business together, Chester Lott said his father and Breaux have “been kidding around about that since they were in the Senate, because you know they used to make deals in the Senate. There’s been no formal talks at all, and ... he can’t get in any of these talks now with anybody and wouldn’t.”
Asked about his own plans, Chester Lott said that “it just depends on what Dad decides down the road.”
While in office, Breaux was known as a Senate dealmaker with bipartisan ties. His decision to step down three years ago was greeted with a flurry of offers so overwhelming, he hired an agent to sort through them before choosing Patton Boggs. His annual salary from the firm is reportedly between $1 and $2 million.
Breaux quickly became one of the firm’s leading rainmakers, with colleagues going out of their way to publicly praise his work ethic, collegial attitude and willingness to solicit new business. When he toyed with running for governor of Louisiana last year, observers said it would be difficult for the firm to lose him. His lobbying client list reflects his Louisiana ties, and includes the port of New Orleans and Louisiana Economic Development. Breaux also led efforts to help the state recover in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But his reach goes beyond his home state: the list also includes Sallie Mae, Cerberus Capital Management and Royal Caribbean Cruises. Midyear reports for Breaux clients this year totalled more than $1.75 million in revenue reported under the Lobbying Disclosure Act alone. It’s unclear whether those clients will remain with Patton Boggs.
In his e-mail, Boggs described Breaux as “an extremely valuable part of the Patton Boggs team,” but said he understood Breaux’s desire to go into business with his son.