The Oregonian's state capitol bureau reporter, Michelle Cole, is leaving the daily to join the lobbying firm Gallatin Public Affairs.
Cole, a veteran journalist who has won the state's biggest prize for investigative reporting, is set to become Gallatin Public Affairs' first director of content and research. She starts Dec. 1, according to an email send by the firm. Gallatin did not immediately return a call for comment.
Cole has been with The Oregonian since 1999, covering the state legislature and state government along with environmental, energy and natural resource issues. She is one several top Oregonian reporters to leave the paper recently to take jobs outside of journalism.
Cole, Gallatin says, "will provide high quality writing and in-depth content for government relations, crisis communications, digital communications and ballot measure and issue advocacy campaigns. She will be based in Portland and will serve Gallatin clients throughout the Pacific Northwest."
Gallatin's clients include Formation Metals, the first cobalt mine located in the United States; Pacific Seafood; Rayonier, a forest products company; and First Wind, a Boston-based wind energy company. The group also did some preliminary work with Clairvest, the Canadian firm seeking to pass casino measures 82 and 83, to construct The Grange, a casino and entertainment complex in Wood Village, east of Portland.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity to translate the communications skills I've honed as a journalist and my knowledge of Northwest politics and issues into high quality work for Gallatin's clients," Cole says in Gallatin's release. "The values of the firm—bipartisanship, integrity and advocacy for the economic and social advancement of our region—matter to me."
Cole couldn't be reached for comment Monday morning.
Gallatin President Dan Lavey said that Cole won't formally lobby politicians, but rather conduct research and provide content for lobbyists and clients.
"We don't envision her becoming a lobbyist, no," Lavey says. "Although we're all lobbyists in a sense, once you come to work with a firm like ours."
Cole could write op-ed or editorial pieces, background analysis, frequently asked questions, and other such information, he says.
Cole started her career in Twin Falls, Idaho, and worked at the Idaho Statesman. She has won the Bruce Baer Award—Oregon journalism's top prize for investigative reporting—and several first-place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.