Chris Cox, the former top lobbyist for the National Rifle Association who resigned last month amid broad upheaval at the gun-rights group, is launching his own Washington consulting firm, Capitol 6 Advisors.
Cox’s firm will assist corporations, political campaigns and groups, and other entities with a range of services. The firm’s name is an homage to the military phrase “watch your ‘six,’” Cox said in an interview, and he said that his business will be dedicated to protecting clients and resolving their most pressing legislative, political and public image issues.
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“My entire career has been a policymaking and electoral laboratory, needing to solve complex problems,” Cox said. “So we’ll be doing long-range strategic public affairs, crisis management, brand-positioning services, helping campaigns, causes, nonprofits, corporations deal with major problems. That’s what I’ve done for decades.”
Cox spent nearly 25 years at the NRA, where he led the group’s lobbying and political efforts, culminating in the NRA’s support for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Cox gave a speech backing Trump and criticizing Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Republican convention — the first time an NRA official spoke at a political convention, the group said. With Cox running the NRA’s political strategy that year, it spent more than $30 million to help elect Trump, according to Federal Election Commission records. Once Trump was in the White House, the NRA continued to lend support to administration actions, including court and Cabinet nominations.
Cox said he was “proud” to have “left the 2nd Amendment far more secure than when I started at the NRA,” citing political victories including Trump’s election and numerous Senate race wins, as well as the rollback of federal gun control laws in recent years.
Cox’s departure from the NRA is part of a larger shakeup at the group, where conflict among top executives spilled out in a series of lawsuits, public statements and, eventually, resignations earlier this year. The turmoil has sparked concern among some Republicans that the group will not be the same political force it has been when Trump seeks reelection in 2020. Cox had been involved in strategy meetings with top pro-Trump groups earlier this year, POLITICO reported previously.
Cox declined to address the specific details of his departure from the NRA.
“Somebody told me, ‘Your rear-view mirror is a lot smaller than your windshield for a reason,’” Cox said. “Check it — but your focus should be on what’s ahead.”
Lobbyists are now derided as part of a “swamp” culture in Washington, but Cox noted that the profession and his experience have grown to encompass more than the capital’s old smoke-filled rooms. Cox said the use of data and digital tools, in particular, has grown in importance in recent years.
“Relationships with elected officials are important, but these days it’s a small piece of the equation,” Cox said. “Engaging stakeholders and constituents from the grassroots to the media — that’s always a big part of success, and it’s been part of my problem-solving for a long time.”