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February 1, 2011 at 9:29 AM

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Patty Murray's chief of staff joins lobbying firm

Posted by Kyung M. Song

WASHINGTON -- Jeff Bjornstad, who last month announced his resignation as Sen. Patty Murray's chief of staff after four years, will become a lobbyist.

Bjornstad has been named president of federal affairs and strategic communications for Washington² Advocates, a consulting and lobbying firm with offices in Bellevue and in Washington, D.C. Washington² Advocates' clients include Sound Transit, the University of Washington, Russell Investments and the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine.

Bjornstad is joining a firm with close ties to Capitol Hill and to Washington state politics.

Two of the firm's partners are Chairman Tony Williams and J. Vander Stoep, both former chiefs of staff for Republican U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton.

Vander Stoep once was tapped to become chief of staff for Dino Rossi during his first unsuccessful gubernatorial match against Democrat Chris Gregoire. Vander Stoep also managed the congressional transition team for Rep. Jaime Herrera Bueutler, who was elected in November to Washington's 3rd congressional district.

Williams, for his part, backed Murray in her re-election race against Rossi.

In addition, Bjornstad's wife, Christy Gullion, once worked on Murray's staff and is now the chief federal lobbyist for UW.

In a statement, Williams called Bjornstad "a perfect fit" for the firm.

"He’s passionate about our nation’s capitol, the Pacific Northwest and customer service, and he embodies our collaborative approach and focus on problem solving," Williams said.

Neither Williams nor Bjornstand immediately returned calls for comment. Federal rules would bar Bjornstad from lobbying Murray or anyone in the Senate for a year.

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