This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Washington • Sen. Bob Bennett is in negotiations with former staffers about launching a business and government consulting company when he leaves office in January.
The senator, who lost his re-election bid at convention, also plans to teach at the University of Utah and boost the school's Hinckley Institute of Politics internship programs abroad.
Bennett said some current lobbyists with individual practices in D.C. – including former staffers Tim Stewart, Mike Nielsen and Mike Lee – are talking about getting into business together. And if the initial plans hold true, the company would also have a Salt Lake City office, headed by his campaign manager, Greg Hopkins.
Since he's still a sitting senator, Bennett cannot join the firm just yet. For any formal announcement, he must wait until after Jan. 3, when his third term expires.
But, he told The Salt Lake Tribune, "If it becomes renamed the Bennett Consulting Group after January, that might not surprise anybody."
Bennett, who decades ago worked as a lobbyist for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said he doesn't plan to do any lobbying himself. But he would oversee both sides of the practice, which he believes would provide strategic advice and lobbying services to business clients.
"I think I've learned a great deal in the Senate and it's been an enormously valuable education. I'm clearly not ready to retire psychologically or physically and yeah, it's nice to earn some money," Bennett said. "I want to keep contributing, and I'm still committed to the policies that are important to me."
U.S. senators draw an annual salary of $174,000.
Kenneth Lee, a former Interior Department staffer-turned-lobbyist who is also in talks about joining the firm, says those policies include financial issues, health care, energy and others the senator has pushed during his 18 years in the Senate.
"What we're looking at is an arrangement that will address both his great interest and passions in business and government," Lee said. "We're talking about ways to re-engage his entrepreneurial juices, enthusiasm and spirit."
Kenneth Lee is the father of Mike Lee, the former Bennett staffer and potential Bennett Group employee, who happens to share a name with the man who will take Bennett's Senate seat in January.
Beyond a potential Bennett Group, the senator is likely to join the board of directors of some major companies and potentially serve as a resident scholar for some D.C. firms.
He's also excited about the opportunity to enter the classroom and teach college students about politics. He is in negotiations with the U.'s Hinckley Institute to also provide assistance in its expansive internship program that sends dozens of students to D.C. and to nations throughout the world.
"The driving force behind this is I don't want to lose my edge," the 77-year-old Bennett said. "And if all I did was play golf and travel, pretty soon, the edge would be gone."
Bob Bennett's work bio
1963 • Worked as press secretary to Rep. Sherman Lloyd, R-Utah, and assistant to Sen. Wallace Bennett, his father.
1964 • Lobbyist for J.C. Penney Co.
1968 • Congressional lobbyist for U.S. Transportation Department
1970 • Owner of public relations firm, Mullen Co., whose clients included Howard Hughes.
1974 • Director of public relations for Hughes' Summa Corp.
1980 • President of Microsonics Corp.
1984 • President and CEO, Franklin Quest
1992 • Elected U.S. senator