The Boston Globe, “An Early Pence Ally Wants to Build Rasky’s National Lobbying Practice,” April 16, 2018
By Jon Chesto
Jess Tocco hopes her firm can benefit from the scramble for infrastructure money across the country.
Toward that end, Tocco is leading a new effort at the lobbying/PR shop Rasky Partners to develop a national lobbying practice, state by state. Rasky, led by CEO Larry Rasky, is already one of the busiest lobbying firms in Massachusetts, and it has a D.C. office. Tocco sees more opportunity for Rasky Partners in the nation’s heartland.
Tocco got her start in politics in her native state of Indiana. There, she developed close ties with Mike Pence after working for him during his first congressional bid.
When Pence was elected vice president in November 2016, Tocco’s Pence ties prompted several local lobbying firms to offer her a job, she says.
She ended up picking Rasky, in part because she had worked there before. “When Vice President Pence won, there was a real vacuum in Massachusetts among the top lobbying firms when it came to the new administration,” Tocco says.
A year later, Tocco was promoted to lead Rasky’s new national push. She says the 40-person firm has already hired someone to work in Indiana and discussions are underway with people in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Tocco would like to open doors for clients in all 50 states, either through direct employees or by teaming up with another lobbying firm that already has local ties.
Why now? She says a number of her firm’s clients — such as Brisa, CDR Maguire, and J. Derenzo Cos. — want to land more federally subsidized infrastructure projects.
“Companies are coming to us, saying we want to expand into the Midwest or into the South . . . and we want to know how,” Tocco says. “We have access to offices and registrations and connections in these states — in the Midwest and in the South — that are rare for Boston firms to have.”
If her last name sounds familiar, maybe it’s because she is married to John Tocco, a local Wynn Resorts executive whose father is Steve Tocco, the ML Strategies CEO. Steve Tocco happens to lead Boston’s busiest lobbying firm, a Rasky rival. Still, the elder Tocco has been a great mentor, she says, though one can only imagine what Thanksgiving dinner in the Tocco house is like.
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