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Keith Brooks Retires; Rob Eshenbaugh to Join Capitol Advocates


Contact: Dan Leite or Kurt Leib, (614) 224-9900

Keith Brooks Retires After 35 Year Lobbying Career, Eshenbaugh to Join Capitol Advocates

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Capitol Advocates, Inc. is pleased to announce two key staff changes to start the 132nd General Assembly.

Keith Brooks, founder of Capitol Advocates, announced his retirement effective Dec. 31, 2016 bringing to a close a highly-successful 35-year career as a multi-client lobbyist in Ohio. In 1981, Keith left the Ohio Senate to form one of the first truly independent lobbying firms that eventually grew into Capitol Advocates.

Keith began his career in government and politics in 1973 working in the administration of former Gov. John Gilligan. From 1975-1981 he worked in the Ohio Senate, initially as legal counsel to the majority and assistant clerk. Keith was elected Clerk of the Senate working first under Democratic President Oliver Ocasek. He was asked to stay on as Clerk and re-elected to his post after Republicans took control of the chamber under the leadership of former Republican President Paul Gillmor.

Keith has been deeply involved in virtually every high profile legislative issue that has been debated before the Ohio General Assembly and earned the respect of members on both sides of the political aisle. He played a key role in the development of state law in the areas of energy policy, insurance and tort reform - to name just a few - as well as regulatory policies governing wireless telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

Capitol Advocates has been jointly owned and managed by Dan Leite and Kurt Leib since 2009. “I’m extremely honored to have worked alongside Keith for the past 24 years,” Leite said. “His integrity is unmatched on Capitol Square and we look forward to carrying on the legacy he created by being honest, straightforward and truthful in our dealings with members of the Ohio General Assembly and the executive branch.”

“We are extremely fortunate to represent a number of clients that Keith started working with 20 or even 30 years ago and really is a testament to his effectiveness,” Leib added. “Working in the legislative arena can be challenging and ultra-competitive, but Keith leaves much the same way he started – universally liked and admired by both friends and foes. I can’t think of a better way to end a successful career.”

Eshenbaugh Joins the Capitol Advocates Team

Robert Eshenbaugh, currently Associate Director of the American Petroleum Institute – Ohio, will join the firm effective Feb. 1.

In his current role, Rob collaborates with industry leaders in the oil and gas sector to develop and implement API Ohio’s legislative and regulatory priorities at the Ohio Statehouse as well as working with key Executive Agencies. API is the only national trade association representing all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry, helping to support 9.8 million U.S. jobs and accounting for 8 percent of the U.S. economy. Rob joined API Ohio in January 2013.

Eshenbaugh also spent six years as Director of Legislative Affairs for the Ohio Home Builders Association. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and holds a law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. Mr. Eshenbaugh is also a member of the Columbus Bar Association and a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Lobbying Association, where he serves as Vice President and Chairman of the Ethics and Professionalism Committee. He is a Youngstown native and resides in the Columbus area.

“Rob is highly regarded on Capitol Square and we are extremely fortunate to welcome someone of his caliber to our team,” said Leite. “He has a tireless work ethic and will be an asset to our broad array of clients.”

Courtney Saunders, who joined the firm in 2009 after serving as a majority caucus legislative policy aide, rounds out the Capitol Advocates team in Columbus.

Capitol Advocates is based in Columbus and has a focus on health care policy, including several provider groups and the pharmaceutical sector, in addition to being active in energy interests and wireless telecommunications.