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Associated Press, Published January 05 2011

Earl Pomeroy joining DC law firm as adviser on health policy

BISMARCK — North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who was defeated in his campaign for a 10th term, said he will join a Washington, D.C., law firm next week as an attorney and adviser on health policy.

Alston & Bird, which has more than 800 lawyers, said Tuesday it had hired the veteran Democrat and his House chief of staff, Bob Siggins, to work for its health care group.

Federal law bars Pomeroy from lobbying Congress for a year. Pomeroy said he may do lobbying work once the prohibition is lifted.

He said he doesn't believe he will be asked to advocate policies he opposed as a member of Congress or to represent clients who worked to turn him out of office. Republican Rick Berg, a Fargo property developer and former North Dakota state legislator, defeated Pomeroy in November.

“I want the work that I do in health policy to be consistent with trying to make a better health care system,” Pomeroy said. “I have received assurances from the firm that I won't be asked to work on something that I fundamentally don't agree with. No, I don't intend to sell out.”

Pomeroy, who was North Dakota's insurance commissioner for eight years before being elected to the U.S. House in 1992, said he was hired because of his knowledge of insurance, health policy and the workings of Congress.

He will be “helping to evaluate strategies to advance clients’ goals in various health policy areas,” Pomeroy said. “They're not hiring me to be a litigator.”

He said he would report to Tom Scully, a former administrator of the federal Medicare program for the elderly and disabled, whom Pomeroy described as “a very dynamic and talented guy.”

In 2003, Scully visited North Dakota at Pomeroy's invitation to hear complaints about Medicare's payment structure for rural health care providers.

Pomeroy said he explored a North Dakota job offer and spoke to four law firms and two consulting firms before deciding to work for Alston & Bird. One of the firm's lawyers is former Kansas Sen. Robert Dole, who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996.