Top GM lobbyist to step down in DC office shake-up

AP News
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Posted: Dec 30, 2009 2:26 PM

The top lobbyist at General Motors Co. will retire next year and will be replaced by a former lobbyist at AT&T in a shake-up at the automaker's Washington office.

Ken Cole, who has been GM's vice president for government relations and public policy since 2001, will step down Jan. 1 and will remain as an adviser for several months until permanently retiring early next year, the company said Wednesday.

He will be replaced by Robert E. Ferguson, a senior strategist at the Texas PR firm Public Strategies Inc. and a former lobbyist at AT&T Inc., the telecommunications giant once run by current GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre Jr.

In addition, GM named John T. Montford senior adviser for government relations and global public policy, a newly created position. Montford was previously AT&T's senior vice president for state legislative affairs.

"John and Bob are proven professionals who have worked in an environment of intense regulatory and political complexity," Whitacre said in a statement. "I've worked with both through a number of issues over the past several years and they have my deep trust and respect."

The shake-up at GM's Washington office follows the Detroit automaker's government-backed bankruptcy and receipt of more than $50 billion in federal aid. Whitacre has named a slew of new executives to the automaker since former CEO Frederick "Fritz" Henderson was ousted in early December.

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AP Auto Writer Dan Strumpf contributed to this report from New York.