A month after a federal bribery case shook Arizona’s lobbying community, the firm whose prominent executive was indicted has renamed itself, seeking a fresh start.
Compass Rose Public Affairs features the same staff as Axiom Public Affairs, without lobbyist Jim Norton, said Kelsey Lundy, the firm’s managing partner.
“It is a rebranding. It is not necessarily a brand-new company, although Sean Noble and myself will be the sole business partner,” she said. “It’s been a rough three or four weeks. ... I believe this was a decision Sean and I and our existing team felt was the best thing to move forward and kind of get out from underneath the cloud that unfortunately is around the name Axiom.”
Once viewed as among the most politically connected lobbying firms in Arizona, Axiom’s high-flying run came crashing down after Norton’s May 23 indictment in a case alleging he was a conduit for bribes paid by Pinal County developer George Johnson to former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce through his wife.
Norton, now a former managing partner at Axiom, and the others in that case have pleaded not guilty, but several major clients for Axiom quickly cut ties with the company. Those include Arizona Public Service Co., the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Raytheon.
Some elected officials acknowledged Norton had become a potential political liability and said they were giving away campaign contributions from Norton to avoid the appearance of taking tainted money. Others said they were weighing whether to do so.
While most clients had stayed with Axiom, Lundy said they kept a core of their business, which they expect to remain unchanged.
“It’s the same team minus Jim moving forward,” she said.