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While the job may not be popular at all in terms of public opinion, General Motors departing lobbyist Ken Cole has done a pretty good job of making the automaker a sympathetic figure for those inclined to bend rules and bail out poorly-managed behemoths. Sure, GM's stature in the public eye is still down there with big tobacco, but Cole managed to keep the automaker's relationship with governments around the world on a somewhat even keel. No mean feat when you consider how much divestiture underpins the whole of GM's plan forward.

It might even be said that Cole the individual can't be replaced by just one person, and Ed Whitacre seemingly agrees. Two of Whitacre's former AT&T colleagues have been given offices in the company's Detroit Renaissance Center headquarters as replacements for the departing Ken Cole. John Montford has been given a seat beside Whitacre where he will put government affairs under his purview, a role he honed as AT&T's Senior Vice President of state legislative affairs. GM's new Vice President of Government Relations is Bob Ferguson, who was most recently doing public affairs consulting, but he was all over state regulatory affairs at AT&T before that. We may get to see how well these guys can dance come June, when Whitacre has vowed to pay back nearly $7 billion in government loans. Official press release after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]

  • John T. Montford named senior advisor for Government Relations and Global Public Policy
  • Robert E. Ferguson joins GM as vice president, Government Relations
  • Ken W. Cole to remain with GM until later in 2010

DETROIT – General Motors has realigned its government relations and public policy team with the appointment of John T. Montford as a senior advisor to GM Chairman and CEO Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., and Robert E. Ferguson, vice president of Government Relations.

Ken W. Cole, currently the vice president of Government Relations and Public Policy who joined GM in 2001, will remain with the company for the next several months as an advisor until his retirement later in 2010. Montford will have overall responsibility for Government Relations and Global Public Policy, and will be supported by Ferguson and Michael J. Robinson, the current vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. The appointments of Montford and Ferguson are effective January 1, 2010.

"John and Bob are proven professionals who have worked in an environment of intense regulatory and political complexity," said Whitacre. "I've worked with both through a number of issues over the past several years and they have my deep trust and respect. We thank Ken Cole for his years of service at GM and will continue to draw on his expertise over the coming months."

John T. Montford
Montford has a deep and diverse background in public policy and corporate affairs. He was most recently senior vice president-state legislative affairs for AT&T. Previously he served as president of external affairs for Southwestern Bell. Following the merger of SBC and AT&T, he served as president-western region for AT&T. He was also the 2005 chairman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. He has served as an independent director of Southwest Airlines since 2002.

Prior to joining SBC in 2001, Montford was Texas Tech University's first chancellor, and the chief executive officer of the University system. Before being named chancellor, he served as a member of the Texas Senate for 14 years. During his tenure in the Senate he served as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee. He was elected president pro tem for the 73rd Legislative Session. Texas Monthly named Senator Montford among the Top 10 Best Legislators for five legislative sessions. A graduate of the University of Texas-Austin and UT Law, Montford's professional career began with his service as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following his tour of active duty, he launched his legal career in Texas and was later elected as district attorney from 1979 to 1982.

Robert E. Ferguson
Ferguson was most recently a senior strategist for the business advisory firm of Public Strategies, Inc. in Austin, Texas. In that role, he provided strategic counsel to corporations and other organizations, with a focus on international business, technology and public policy. Ferguson joined Public Strategies from AT&T, where he was president of state legislative and regulatory affairs. While at AT&T, Ferguson was responsible for overseeing all external and regulatory issues in the 50 states and for managing the company's public policy organization. He assumed that position in 2005, when SBC Communications and AT&T merged.

Earlier positions with SBC included serving as group president and CEO of Enterprise Business Services. Ferguson was responsible for sales and customer care for SBC's enterprise and federal government accounts and the corporation's long distance, Internet and data communication companies. Prior positions at SBC included president of Business Communications Services for its western U.S. operations, president of SBC federal relations in Washington, D.C., regional president for Southern California, and managing director for regulatory policy. Before joining SBC Communications in 1996, Ferguson was a senior vice president, partner and general manager at Fleishman-Hillard Inc., serving as the senior consultant to SBC companies on all communications issues.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      So you are all saying that GM shouldn't have anyone dedicated to dealing with the government? I'd say that is a pretty important role right now.... just a thought.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The problem isn't with the lobbyist ..... It's the Congress who loves the money so they can be re-elected (funded by the lobbyist}

        JUST DON'T Re-elect them and the problem is FIXED
      • 5 Years Ago
      GM has no morals.......They hate their dealers and their employees. How can anyone turn around a company like this. If everyone else is the problem, you probably need to take a long hard look in the mirror.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lobbying should be flat out illegal.
      How is it legal for corporations to hire people to directly influence politicians?
      It is inane.
      But the government have a fit if doctors get free golf and dinners from drug reps.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've already got the new slogan: "More cars in more places." You're welcome, GM.
      • 5 Years Ago
      When I first started scrolling down I thought the guy on the left was Conan O'brien
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmmm...I wonder how good their 3G coverage is?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmm... ok so he hires some of his former co-workers to lobby for his current employer. This just reaks of how those in government get elected then start hiring "friends" to decent/high paying jobs that are not qualified or if they are just get paid way to much money for their job. So I guess I'm saying its business as usual in the business world.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is an insult to our honor to purchase a GM product . . . unless you believe in a welfare check for middle class auto workers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It looks like Whitacre's AT&T coo has started all over again. He is putting his own cronies in top positions, and it will only be a matter of time until he has complete power from the top all the way to the bottom. No one will refuse him because they will be his disciples.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You guys are cracking me up.

      Morals and companies? What are you, in high school?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Isn't that strange? They look like they're part of the same family. At first, I thought they were two photos of the same guy (at different ages, obviously).

      Those watery eyes, that lopsided smile, the flared nostrils and the pelican-neck topped by a bubble chin ... could be something Lovecraft wrote.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmmm...I wonder how good their 3G coverage is?

        • 5 Years Ago
        Under Verizon?

        Far better than it would be under AT&T.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's actually especially funny considering that OnStar's cell phone service uses Verizon's network.

        You used to actually be able to add your vehicle as an extra line to your Verizon plan, but they apparently discountinued that in July of this year.
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