May 1, 2024 - Politics

Thirtyfive Group consulting firm launches

Partners in the new Thirtyfive Group

Thirtyfive Group partners Rob Mortensen, left, and Ben Eagles. Photos: Courtesy of Thirtyfive Group

A former aide to Mayor John Cooper and a prominent government lobbyist partnered to launch a new lobbying and consulting firm called Thirtyfive Group.

Why it matters: Thirtyfive Group will instantly be at the center of major issues affecting Nashville. The firm represents East Bank developer The Fallon Company, as well as auto racing groups like the Music City Grand Prix and Bristol Motor Speedway.

Inside the room: Ben Eagles served as senior adviser to Cooper during his four years as mayor. He previously worked in Metro finance and as an aide on several Metro Council campaigns, including for Freddie O'Connell in 2015, Kathleen Murphy and Tanaka Vercher.

  • Eagles advised Cooper on the city's pandemic response, which connected him with his Thirtyfive Group partner Rob Mortensen. At the time, Mortensen was leading the Nashville and statewide hospitality associations.

What they're saying: "We worked together to form a hospitality advisory committee for the city, which had a lot of folks from the industry, to offer insight into how to keep restaurants open and keep them open safely," Mortensen tells Axios.

  • "It was an example of a moment of great tension and taking an unprecedented situation and trying to bridge that private-public divide," Eagles says. A city ethics law blocked Eagles from local lobbying work until six months after his tenure in the mayor's office ended.
  • The firm launches with a wide array of clients, with a special emphasis on the intersection of hospitality and government relations. The Caverns concert venue in Grundy County is another of its clients.

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