Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Former state Rep. Vilma Luna has signed on with Hillco Partners

Luna signs on with powerful Austin lobbying firm

By Jaime Powell Caller-Times
August 2, 2006

Former state Rep. Vilma Luna has signed on with Hillco Partners, widely acknowledged as the home of some of Austin's most powerful lobbyists.

Luna, a Corpus Christi Democrat who announced her resignation from the House last month, is leaving the city with husband Rico and her two sons to live in Austin, she said Tuesday.

"The real blessing is we will all be in one city," she said. "What I have done in the past is juggle a law practice, being a state representative and I think my belief is that I will be able to focus it all into one arena. I am very excited and really looking forward to a new chapter in my life. But I will miss my family, friends and wonderful constituents."

Later this month Luna will join a well-known list of Austin lobbyists at Hillco, including founders Buddy Jones, a former state representative and Bill Miller, both of whom are at or near the top of almost any list of lobbyists considered the most powerful in Austin, according to Capital Inside's Web site in Austin.

The firm, which employs between 25 and 30 lobbyists, represents glamorous sports franchises such as the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Rockets, as well as companies such as General Motors and Microsoft.

Luna, 48, had represented Corpus Christi's District 33 since she first was elected in 1993.

By 2005, after stints on the House Economic Development Committee and as vice chairwoman of the House Select Committee on Public School Finance, Luna took a seat as vice chairwoman of the influential House Appropriations Committee.

She also sat on the 10-member Legislative Budget Board and on the Calendars and Ways and Means committees.

Along the way she worked with notables such as Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, R-Midland - experience that will be valuable for lobbying purposes - political watchers including Harvey Kronberg, who publishes the online, nonpartisan newsletter "Quorum Report" have said.

Miller said Tuesday that there were a lot of firms vying for Luna.

"We won the war for her services," Miller said. "Vilma brings enormous prestige, smarts, integrity, and hard work. She is a complete package. We are overjoyed that Vilma has chosen our firm to work with."

Contact Jaime Powell at 886-3716

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