Dicks joins D.C. lobbying firm

When Norm Dicks announced his surprise retirement last year after 36 years in Congress, the Bremerton Democrat said he was ready to “change gears and enjoy life at a different pace.”

But that doesn’t mean Dicks is done with Washington, D.C. He’s taking a job as senior policy counsel with Van Ness Feldman, a law firm and lobbying shop specializing in energy and environmental issues.

As a former chairman of the House Appropriations panel overseeing the Department of Interior, Dicks has decades of expertise on those subjects.

The firm’s founders include former senior staffers of the late Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

“It’s a firm that I’ve had a lot of experience with over the years. They’re great people,” Dicks said in a phone interview from D.C. “I’m excited and I look forward to continuing to work with our congressional delegation.”

Under ethics rules, Dicks, 72, is barred for one year from lobbying his former colleagues in the House of Representatives.

Dicks said he’ll carefully follow that rule, but he’s allowed to gather information, advise clients and lobby the executive branch during that “cooling off” period.

Dicks, who is recovering from total knee-replacement surgery, said while his new job will allow him to continue to work on public policy, it won’t require the hectic schedule of a member of Congress. “There is no pace like the congressional pace. It’s seven days a week,” he said.

Dicks will split his time between the firm’s Washington, D.C., and Seattle offices.

He said he particularly hopes to work on environmental issues, including ocean acidification, and on improving cybersecurity, which he called “even more dangerous than terrorism.”

Van Ness Feldman took in nearly $3 million in lobbying income last year from clients including oil and gas companies, electric utilities, cities, mining and railroad interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.