Ex-Boehner Aide Is Said to Be Eyed for Oil Trade Group CEO

(Bloomberg) -- The American Petroleum Institute is recruiting a former top Republican congressional staffer with financial-sector expertise to lead the oil industry trade group, according to people familiar with the hiring deliberations.

API’s executive committee has decided to recommend Mike Sommers, a chief of staff for former House Republican Leader John Boehner, to take the leadership role when longtime Chief Executive Officer Jack Gerard leaves later this year. The recommendation will now go before API’s full board for approval, said the people, who asked for anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

Sommers now serves as president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based American Investment Council, which represents private equity and growth capital firms.

Under Sommers, the group played a major role fighting successfully to preserve the carried interest tax rule that benefits some hedge fund managers.

But most of his career has been tied to Boehner, the former House speaker, beginning with an internship in the Ohio Republican’s office. Sommers, a graduate of Miami University in Ohio, eventually became Boehner’s chief of staff -- and a chief strategist -- during bruising congressional fights with the Obama administration over spending.

He also briefly served as special assistant to former President George W. Bush. Through his role on the National Economic Council, Sommers advised Bush on agriculture, trade and food policy.

Jill Sommers, his wife, is a former member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The American Petroleum Institute is one of the top lobbying groups in Washington, alongside other heavyweights such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Gerard had a salary of $5.5 million and $1.3 million in additional compensation in 2016, according to the most recent API tax filing.

Sommers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

API spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel would not say who had been chosen -- or if a final executive committee recommendation had been made.

“The successor to Jack Gerard will be announced at the appropriate time once the committee has completed its work," Wohlschlegel said by email.

If approved, the hiring of Sommers could be a dramatic change for API, after nearly a decade under Gerard’s leadership. Gerard is taking a leadership position in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and API plans to have its new CEO in place by Sept. 1.

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