James Hirni

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James F. Hirni is a lobbyist who was convicted of bribing U.S. Senate staff aides in exchange for favorable amendments to legislation. A former aide to U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), he joined the lobbying firm Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, and then became a member of "Team Abramoff" at Greenberg Traurig. He was a lobbyist for Wal-Mart from 2004–08, joining Wal-Mart full time in 2007 as its executive director of Republican outreach from lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates.[1]

Court documents filed November 21, 2008, charged Hirni with one count of "conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud" for giving Blackann and a Fraser Verrusio, a staffer to Alaska Rep. Don Young an all-expenses paid trip to the World Series in exchange for favorable amendments to the Federal Highway Bill that benefited Hirni and Boulanger's client, United Rentals.[2]

On December 12, 2008, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud.[3] The guilty conduct occurred just a few weeks before Hirni left Sonnenschein to work with Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig.

The equipment rental conspiracy alleged in the scheme also resulted in guilty pleas from another Abramoff associate — Todd Boulanger — and a Senate aide, Trevor Blackann, who at the time worked for Missouri Republican Senator Kit Bond.[4]

On March 6, 2009, Verrusio was indicted for receiving that trip in return for inserting the legislative amendments.[4] Hirni also worked as a lobbyist at Rhoads Group, the National Federation of Independent Business and Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, and as a legislative assistant to Sen. Bill Frist and Sen. Jeff Sessions.[5]

In January 2011, it was reported that Hirni was actively working on the campaign of Rick Santorum.[6]


  1. ^ Susan Crabtree (November 24, 2008). "Wal-Mart fires GOP lobbyist over Abramoff charges". The Hill. 
  2. ^ Zachary Roth (November 24, 2008). "Abramoff Lobbyists Wanted Measure Attached To Young's Transportation Bill". TPM Muckraker. 
  3. ^ Del Quentin Wilber (December 12, 2008). "D.C. Man With Ties to Abramoff Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy". The Washington Post. 
  4. ^ a b Mauer, Richard (2009-03-06). "Former Young aide is indicted in lobbying scandal: GRATUITY: All-expense paid trip to World Series wasn't reported.". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  5. ^ "Revolving Door: James F. Hirni". Open Secrets. 
  6. ^ Becker, Amanda (2011-01-06). "Former Abramoff-Linked Lobbyist Helps Santorum in South Carolina". Roll Call. Retrieved 2011-01-09.