Former Nebraska senator and current NAIC CEO Ben Nelson, along with two colleagues, announced the launch of Heartland Strategy Group LLC last week. This brings the portfolio of jobs Nelson is juggling to four.
However, Nelson says the NAIC CEO stewardship will be his primary role.
The new business venture, Heartland, will be based in Omaha and focus on government relations and public affairs, with clients from across a spectrum of business and nonprofit interests, according to press reports who were notified.
Nelson formed the Heartland Strategy Group with Tim Becker, his former chief of staff on the Hill, and former Nebraska Democratic Party executive director (2003 through 2006) Barry Rubin, who recently ran Red State Strategies in Elkhorn, Neb. On a corporate profile page, Red State Strategies, founded in 2008, had only $56,000 in revenue in 2011. Rubin also was political hand for Gov. Parris Glendening, D-Md., in the late 1990s.
According to Becker’s comments to Politico, Heartland already has some clients — which it cannot disclose yet — and Nelson and the Heartland team have been spending the past couple of months setting up the venture, around the time he was hired by the NAIC.
Nelson accepted the NAIC position in mid-January and will make a salary of close to $1 million under a two-year renewable contract. Also in January, Nelson accepted a senior advisory position with Agenda, a national public affairs firm with offices in Washington. Agenda is a firm focused on winning through something called “new advocacy,” according to its website.
In addition, the University of Nebraska at Omaha announced the appointment of an educational partnership between Nelson and the UNO Department of Political Science. Nelson will become the department’s “Politician-in-Residence.” Part of the Nelson’s responsibilities will include team-teaching an upper-division course each semester, UNO announced in February.
“Serving as the chief executive officer for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is my primary job — and I am passionately committed to our responsibilities of helping state insurance regulators protect consumers and support their regulatory oversight of insurance companies and producers. Throughout my career, I have juggled numerous roles. My teaching responsibilities and advisory positions with other boards, firms and educational institutions will neither interfere nor influence my job as NAIC CEO,” Nelson said in a statement.
Nelson has access to state regulatory information and strategy representing the state governmental agencies he represents as NAIC leader. The business firms he is partnering with will lobby on behalf of interests before branches of government.