Former Governor George Pataki, after a two-month break, said Wednesday he is joining a New York City law firm and will specialize in environmental issues, particularly renewable energy.
Pataki, who has been eyeing a possible run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, will be joined at Chadbourne & Parke by his former chief of staff, John Cahill.
Pataki continued to be circumspect about his possible political plans although he has lately cut back on campaign-like activities.
Asked if people might read his move as a sign he was abandoning any White House dreams, Pataki told The Associated Press: “People are going to say what people are going to say. I’m going to continue to be involved in the public policy debate.” The former governor said he had no plans to immediately endorse any other contenders.
“It’s a great firm and I’m really excited about this,” Pataki told the AP about his new job.
Chadbourne’s managing partner, Charles O’Neill, said the addition of Pataki and Cahill to the 425-lawyer firm “will build upon Chadbourne’s growing renewable energy practice.”
Cahill is a former state environmental conservation commissioner. Pataki was praised by environmental groups throughout his 12 years in office, particularly for his efforts to add 1 million acres of preserve land to the state.
“It’s definitely an area that was important to me as governor and is now important to me as a private citizen,” Pataki said.
Pataki, who ousted Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994, did not seek re-election last year to a fourth, four-year term.
Among the firm’s best known lawyers is Abbe Lowell, a Washington-based attorney whose clients have included disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The late Edmund Muskie, the former Maine senator and former secretary of state who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, was a Chadbourne partner.
A recently named partner at the firm is former New York Court of Appeals Judge George Bundy Smith. Pataki created something of stir last year when he refused to reappoint Smith, the only black jurist on the tribunal at the time, to the court when his term expired. Instead, Pataki nominated a white judge, Eugene F. Pigott Jr. of western New York, to join the court.
Pataki said he had a brief conversation with Smith at the Chadbourne office on Wednesday morning and there was no tension. “I’ve always had enormous respect for the judge,” Pataki said. The former governor wouldn’t say how much he would be making in his new job.
“Almost as much as when I was governor,” he joked. Pataki was paid $179,000 a year as governor. His government pension is worth more than $100,000 a year.
7 March 2007
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