Former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), the former Senate majority leader, was abruptly fired from one of D.C.’s top lobbying firms on Monday. But it’s still not clear what prompted the break between the former top Senate Republican and lobbying arm of Squire Patton Boggs.
Squire Patton Boggs CEO Mark Ruehlmann kept his Monday night statement on Lott’s departure vague.
“We have decided that it is the right time to make a change in the leadership of our industry leading Public Policy practice,” he said. “As a global law firm, we are obliged to constantly evaluate and tailor our professional offerings to not only respond, but also anticipate the issues and concerns of an evolving marketplace and the clients we serve,” he added, thanking Lott for his service.
Angelo Kakolyris, spokesman for the firm, told TPM only that the firm has “chosen to part ways with Senator Lott.”
Lott, who has long partnered with former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), told Roll Call that the firm “took the low road” in firing him.
“This whole thing boils down to a very simple equation: Breaux and I decided it was time to move on to another firm, a strictly public policy firm,” he said. “Word got back to the firm and they decided to try to undermine our ability to get clients. … We’re not mad at anybody.”
Asked about Lott’s claims to Roll Call, Kakolyris told TPM that Lott “has not made us aware of any plans.”
Lott has a history particularly out of step with the current national environment.
In 2002, he was forced out of his leadership position in the Senate after media outlets, led by TPM, seized on comments he made fondly remembering then-Sen. Strom Thurmond’s (R-SC) failed 1948 presidential candidacy as a segregationist Dixiecrat.
“When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him,” he said then. “We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either.”
Keeping the spotlight on Lott’s comments, TPM also dredged up an interview Lott gave to the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan and aired his longtime connections to the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens.
At the time, Lott apologized in an interview with BET and called his choice of words “unacceptable and insensitive.”
He left the Senate altogether in 2007 and set up a lobbying shop with Breaux. Their firm was acquired by Patton Squire Boggs. Per Ruehlmann’s statement, Breaux is still with Patton Squire Boggs.