Ex-Rep. Sue Myrick finds new work as shoe promoter

Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-NC), February 24, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-NC), February 24, 2010 in Washington, DC. MCT

Sue Myrick, the former Charlotte mayor who served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, landed a new gig on Monday: lobbying on behalf of shoes in the nation’s capital.

Myrick, a 73-year-old Republican who retired from Congress in 2012, will become a top policy strategist for the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, a trade group that wants to get rid of shoe tariffs.

She received a $500 contribution from her new employer during the 2011-12 election cycle, when the trade group wanted Congress to approve a bill to scrap the tariffs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based organization that tracks the influence of money in politics.

While the bill went nowhere, Myrick will now get another chance to try to convince her former colleagues to pass it.

“I believe we have a moral obligation to eliminate tariffs on footwear because they are a direct hit on the pocketbooks of lower-income and middle-class families – people who can least afford it,” Myrick said in a statement.

She could not be reached for comment.

The move comes as Republicans prepare to formally take charge of both the House and Senate when the new Congress convenes on Tuesday, fueling hopes that the GOP will work with President Barack Obama to advance trade bills this year.

Matt Priest, president of the footwear trade group, said Myrick would help “elevate our name brand across Washington,” and he praised her ability to work with Democrats and Republicans alike.

“I am extremely excited to add her to our footwear family as a key adviser because I see it as a game changer,” Priest said.

Myrick, a former advertising and public relations executive, joined Congress in 1995 after serving two terms as Charlotte’s mayor, becoming the first and only woman to ever lead the city. During her nine terms in Congress, she served on the Intelligence, Energy and Commerce, and Rules committees.

Myrick’s new job will reunite her with two of her former employees on Capitol Hill: Priest, who served as her legislative director, and Andy Polk, her former communications director, who’s now vice president of the trade group.

The group is a strong backer of Obama’s plan to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would set new trade rules for the United States and 11 trading partners. One of them would be Vietnam, which already ranks as the second largest supplier of footwear for the U.S. market. The group said the trade pact could become the most significant free trade agreement for footwear in history, allowing more products to move among countries without import taxes.

As a former businesswoman, Myrick said shoe tariffs were an “innovation tax” that prevented companies from growing and creating new footwear products.

And in her new job, she said she would “not miss any opportunity” to tell the story of the footwear industry to House and Senate leaders as they got to work on trade legislation.

“2015 presents our best chance in a decade to pass meaningful trade legislation to eliminate these outdated tariffs,” Myrick said.

Last year, Myrick registered to lobby for one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasters, the South Carolina-based Inspiration Network, which provides programming in more than 120 countries.

But Myrick said then that it would be only a temporary job.