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ROBERT A. McCONNELL
Immediately after law school at Arizona State University McConnell joined the staff of Congressman John Rhodes (R-AZ) as the Congressman’s Legislative Director and served in that position before returning to Arizona and the private practice of law representing corporations, Indian Tribes, government interests including being designated by the Arizona Attorney General as a Special Assistant to handle certain litigation.
In 1981 his was nominated by President Reagan to be Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, a position he held throughout Reagan’s first term. He then was Vice President of CBS, Inc., heading the Washington Office for three years until he joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. While at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher he, along with his wife, Nadia, founded the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation which opened office in Washington and Kyiv.
The Foundation is the longest running American presence in Ukraine and focuses on democratic institution building and the development of civil society. McConnell now, in addition to his work with the Foundation and the USUBC heads R.A. McConnell & Associates a government relations and crisis advisory firm.
Representative samples of Legislative and Executive Branch Advocacy
Secured Federal Monies for Development of Critical Technology. Over several years obtained through Congressional authorizations and appropriations over $23 million in line items for the development of a unique technology with, among other things, national security implications.
Represented Major Business Interests. To secure civil justice reform retained as part of a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher team to represent the Civil Justice Reform Group (CJRG) – an association of 50+ general counsel of Fortune 500 companies – to secure changes in federal civil law. Eventually the retention was personal and on behalf of the CJRG and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and led to the enactment of the Class Action Fairness Act. P.L. 109-2)
Protected Millions from Attempted Legislative Take-Over. Retained at last minute was successful in having critical language inserted in legislation on the Senate floor to protect a pension fund of over $100 million during the course of a bankruptcy proceeding.
Defeated Hostile Take-Over. As part of a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher team retained to defeat the hostile take-over of a large public corporation raised national security concerns to interested Congressional Committees leading to the end of the takeover attempt.
Protected Critical Corporate Negotiations from Collateral Investigations. Represented numerous corporations subject to Congressional investigations often being conducted contemporaneously with Executive Branch investigations or enforcement actions to respect the needs of Congress while not jeopardizing the client’s ongoing negotiations with relevant Executive Branch Department or agency.
Exxon Valdez. On behalf of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and its owners – including BP, Exxon-Mobil, Unocal – managed the company’s executives many appearances before congressional hearings in Alaska and Washington, preparing witnesses and interfacing with the many committees and subcommittees with interests in the spill and its aftermath.
Contained Difficult Industry Issues. At CBS and on behalf of the world’s largest record label at the time, CBS Records, was instrumental in dealing with many varied issues arising in Washington over lyrics and access to certain recordings.
Negotiated for Industry. Also as CBS Vice President led negotiations with Congress in reaching an informal understanding regarding the timing of the release of exit poll results for 1988 elections and beyond.
Experience with Large National Trade Association. As Vice President of CBS, served on Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters playing an active role in many issues facing a changing broadcasting industry.
Singled Out as Industry Leader. As Vice President of CBS, was the broadcast industry leader in the effort to defeat the reauthorization of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, lobbying against its passage and then securing the necessary votes in the Senate to sustain President Reagan’s veto.. Broadcasting Magazine July 6, 1987
High Praise from Senate Leader. “Years later, after I had left office, Howard Baker, majority leader of the Senate during my years in D.C., told me that McConnell was one of the best, if not the best, legislative representatives on the Hill of any agency in government.” Attorney General William French Smith in Law & Justice in the Reagan Administration, Hoover Press
Confirmation Process. Responsible for handling all Presidential Appointees in the Department of Justice – including those within “main Justice” and all U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals, as well as all of the President’s nominees to the Federal Judiciary, including Bob Bork and Antonin Scalia to the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia and Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court of the United States. Subsequent to government service have served as advisor to the Department on several occasions difficult confirmations.
National Advocate for Presidential Priorities. As Assistant Attorney General not only was principal advocate for the President’s Crime Control Act and the President’s Immigration Reform and Control Act (P.L. 99-603) before Congress but crossed the country speaking at town halls and other forums as well as appearing on radio and television shows in support of the legislation.
Secured Enactment of Legislation Others Had Tried to Enact for over 12 years. As Assistant Attorney General was chief strategist and lobbyist behind President Reagan’s Comprehensive Crime Control Act (P.L. 98-473), changed the strategies followed by three previous Administrations and repackaged the legislation and obtained enactment within the President’s first term. The subject of Dynamics of Legislation, Charles Wise, 1991, Wiley, John & Sons
Coordinated State’s Washington Lobbying Efforts. At the Request of Arizona’s Congressional Delegation retained by Arizona business interests, including the State’s public utilities and banks, as well as the Governor, to coordinate the State’s many efforts in developing relations with Federal Government on advancement of solar energy.
Made Do-It-Yourself Movers a Priority During Energy Crisis. Representing U-Haul during Arab Oil Embargo negotiated directly with the Administrator of the Federal Energy Office, William E. Simon, an arrangement designating the do-it-yourself moving trucks and trailers a priority users at the nation’s gas pumps.
Secured 200,000 acres of land for Indian Tribe. Representing Havasupai Tribe during consideration of Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act and over the objection of the Department of Interior secured 250,000 acres of ancestral tribal lands to be added to the tribe’s 300 acre reservation. P.L. 93-620
Representative Sample of Litigation
Arizona Supreme Court. Representing the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors against claims by the Governor regarding how to fill a vacancy in the State Legislature successfully won reversal of lower court decision in the first televised proceeding before the Arizona Supreme Court.
Successfully Defended State of Arizona. As designated Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona successfully represented Arizona State University in litigation brought by lead contractor in expansion of Sun Devil Stadium.
Supreme Court of the United States. Successfully argued United States v. Dann et al obtaining a 9-0 reversal of a 9th Circuit opinion. 470 U.S. 39 (1985)
Writing, Editing, Speaking and Coalition Building
Both in public office and private practice have been in demand as a speaker and for drafting of speeches and writing and submitting testimony at Congressional hearings. Also accomplished in building and coordinating coalitions seeking to effect government policy and using Internet to advance policy objectives. Relating specifically to Ukraine have successfully worked legislative campaigns – also addressing the Executive – since Congress’ establishment of the Ukraine Famine Commission (1985), the Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine (1988), Ukrainian independence (1991) and United States recognition of Ukraine (1991), relations between Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and the Department of Defense (1992) and numerous issued since. Most recently began a daily email publication Ukraine in the News the focus of which is education of Congressional staff, Executive Branch officials and media regarding critical events in Ukraine and Putin’s voracious propaganda world-wide campaign.