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National Restaurant Association parts with top lobbyist

National Restaurant Association lobbying chief Cicely Simpson parted with the group on Friday, raising some speculation within the Beltway about the reasons.

The association declined a request for more information, limiting its comments to a prepared statement. But Politico reported the split followed complaints and a high turnover within the organization’s advocacy group, which is widely recognized as a powerful force within the nation’s capital.

Cicely Simpson, photo courtesy of the National Restaurant Association

Simpson headed that operation as EVP of public affairs. Her LinkedIn profile does not cite a new position.

Politico reported that more than half the lobbying staff, or about 30 people, had turned over during Simpson’s three years as the department chief. High turnover is not unusual in the District, especially when there is a shift in the party controlling the Senate, House of Representatives or White House. 

But Politico said it heard complaints from about a half-dozen former members of the department about Simpson’s leadership. It did not air the specific complaints.

Whether Simpson was fired or left of her own volition was one of the specific questions the association declined to address.

Effective Friday, June 15, 2018, Cicely Simpson, EVP of public affairs, departed the organization,” read the statement from Marvin Irby, chief people officer for the National Restaurant Association. “We remain grateful to Cicely for her contributions to the Association and wish her well in her future endeavors.” 

Simpson joined the group three years ago after holding the role of VP of government affairs for Dunkin’ Brands, parent of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins.  Earlier, she had served as legislative director to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.   She had also been active in the National Restaurant Association’s efforts to shape federal menu-labeling laws, among other issues.

No replacement has been named by the association.


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