Former Clinton aide Harold Ickes still a political force

Harold Ickes, president of The Media Fund, speaks

Harold Ickes, president of The Media Fund, speaks during a news conference before a "America Coming Together" event in Los Angeles, Calif. Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2003. (Credit: AP / Ann Johansson )

Dan Janison

Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison, Dan Janison

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday for 10

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For veteran Democratic lawyer-lobbyist-consultant Harold M. Ickes, a former aide to ex-President Bill Clinton, the political and governmental involvement marches on.

For one thing Ickes, 74, is advising the super PAC "Ready for Hillary," in preparation for another possibleHillary Clinton presidential campaign in two years.

"We have roughly 2 million people with whom we can communicate," he said. "The lists are developed for two reasons. One is to show Mrs. Clinton there's broad support for her across the country, that it's not limited to salons and drawing rooms and inside politicians."

"Number two, small-dollar fundraising has become more and more critical as we know. If she decides to run, these are people we'll be able to get into contact with, to build a political operation," Ickes said.

Ickes in January became board chairman at the Garden City-based law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, where he also co-chairs its labor and government-relations practice with longtime Harlem politico Basil Paterson, father of ex-Gov. David A. Paterson. Ickes rejoined the firm in 1998 after serving as assistant and deputy chief of staff to President Clinton. "I don't practice law except on occasion, but I'm deeply involved in the management of the firm," he said.

Also, his government-relations firm, the Ickes & Enright Group, his venture with longtime associate Janice Enright, just added a New York City affiliate -- Ickes, Enright & McCabe. Managing director Kevin McCabe is a longtime political and government adviser, and former City Council staff chief. Ickes was an early backer of Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom he'd worked in Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign.

His father, Harold Leclair Ickes, was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of the Interior, but the younger Ickes said he grew politically interested much later, in the 1960s. Among many civil-rights and anti-war activists he encountered then, Ickes calls Allard Lowenstein, later a one-term Nassau County congressman, a mentor.

He said he met with lawyer Jack English after the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for whom English was an adviser, to discuss keeping anti-Vietnam War Democrats in coalition. "Jack and I became very close friends," said Ickes, who joined the Meyer Suozzi firm at English's invitation in 1977.

Ickes recalls from childhood that Roosevelt helped shuck corn at the Ickes family farm in Montgomery County, Md., when the president was a dinner guest.