Meet Capitol Core Group's

Management Team 

Michael W. McKinney

Managing Executive

Michael W. McKinney is a Founding Partner of Capitol Core Group and currently serves as the firm’s managing executive.  He is nationally recognized for providing unique lobbying and political consulting for large and small corporate clients, non-profit associations, public agencies, as well as political and issue-based campaigns.  


With over two decades of success in the lobbying and political strategy industries, McKinney established a cutting-edge combined services firm with a national focus providing integrated government relations, strategic communication and political consulting services.  Since Capitol Core’s formation in 2015, Michael has scored significant victories for a wide range of clients in appropriations, energy, water, land use, property-rights protection, and environment. He has led efforts and built alliances that have resulted in regulatory changes, widespread Congressional support, and numerous legislative successes.


Featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and other publications, McKinney is well known for his political strategy work.  His experience in the government relations field is what makes him unique; having represented clients before the United States Congress, eight State Legislatures and over 200 local Southern California governments.  McKinney’s work has ranged from leading one of the largest successful municipal recall campaigns in California history to public policy issues on telecommunications competition, energy efficiency, and alternative teacher credentialing.  


Originally from Orange County, California McKinney holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Master’s degree in Public Administration and Policy.  He serves as a Judge for the American Association of Political Consultants’ “Pollie Awards” and is a member of both AAPC and PRSA.


Phone: 512.568.3084 Ext. 700

Jeff Simonetti

Senior Vice President

Jeff Simonetti is a leading state lobbyist and local government relations specialist.  As Senior Vice President at Capitol Core, he leads the firm’s California lobbying and Southern California local government relations practices.  In addition, Simonetti serves on the government relations team representing clients before the United States Congress and various state legislatures.  


Simonetti is a published author and recognized strategic counselor in both the water and post-redevelopment era municipal funding industries.  His successes have included the implementation of local government financing strategies such as Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs), land use, water procurement consultation/policy, and energy efficiency/storm recovery financing.  Simonetti’s focus is providing creative strategies and winning execution of government relations campaigns for our clients. He is a founding member of the San Bernardino County Water Conference bringing over 400 elected officials and business leaders together annually to discuss pressing water policy issues affecting local communities.  


A Massachusetts native, Simonetti holds a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE) and a master’s degree in Finance & Entrepreneurship.  He was a student-fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government.

Phone: 949.274.9605 Ext. 702

Todd Tatum

Senior Advisor

Todd Tatum has extensive experience in government, water development and policy, as well as land-use.  He works with water districts, local governments and agencies seeking to enhance their water supplies and build water resource infrastructure. In short, Tatum locates, secures and structures the most economical transfer and exchange agreements.  His effort has resulted in the completion of over one million acre-feet of both permanent entitlement and “wet water” transfers.


Tatum’s career began as Congressional staff in the House of Representatives.  In 1989, he joined the family business in land-use development. In his tenure he has overseen the entitlement, development and construction of more than 4,000 single-family homes and led one of fastest-growing homebuilding company in the nation.


Tatum graduated Harvard University and has served on a number of public and private boards including the Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District, President of the Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter and the 28th District Agricultural Association (San Bernardino County Fair Board).

Phone: 949.274.9605 Ext. 704

Colleen Newman

Senior Advisor

Colleen Newman is a leading federal lobbyist and Congressional relations specialist with extensive experience in the oil, gas, and water industries.  As a Senior Advisor to Capitol Core clients she leads proactive advocacy efforts to advance or ward off legislative/regulatory change; influence drafting of legislative and regulatory measures, and to procure government funding.    

Newman’s experience began as Congressional staff focusing on energy and water issues in both the House of Representatives and United States Senate.  From there she has served as a federal intergovernmental affairs liaison to Puerto Rico, a freelance reporter and a government affairs advisor with various firms.   She brings this wealth of knowledge to Capitol Core’s business and agency clients.  

Newman graduated from Loyola University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a holds a master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University.    

Phone: 202.969.6009 Ext. 706

Hon. R. Wes Retherford (ret.)

Vice President Mid-West Region (Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky)

The Honorable Wes Retherford brings the experience of a three-term Representative to Capitol Core clients.  Serving six-years for the people of Butler County in the Ohio State House of Representatives, he was a member of the House Ways and Means, Insurance, Federalism, and Agriculture & Natural Resources Committees.  In addition, Wes served as State Chairman to the American Legislative Exchange Council.


As a State Legislator, Retherford was known to reach across party lines to accomplish goals while maintaining conservative principles.  Prior to serving in the Ohio House of Representatives, he worked a variety of jobs including journeyman carpenter, engineering technician, and mortician’s assistant.  As Senior Advisor for Capitol Core and based in Columbus, Ohio, he assists State Government Relations clients in clearing hurdles, advancing goals, and minimizing costs.  Providing representation in the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. 


Wes is a lifelong resident of Butler County, Ohio and a graduate of Talawanda High School with strong beliefs in family values, community activity, heritage and culture of the community.  He is a United States Marine with active service from 2002-2004. 



Phone: 614.305.4001 extension 708

Leslie Garcia

Associate, Government Relations

Leslie Garcia’s public policy career began at the University of California Santa Barbara where she served as Executive Director of the California College Republicans and helped form the “Rise CCR” slate of candidates which introduced structural, institutional and interconnection changes that doubled the size of the organization.  In addition, she served on the advance team for the Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign during the 2016 Republican primary.


Garcia brings this impressive experience to the Capitol Core team as an Associate, Public Affairs providing policy research, legislative analysis and position development to various clients.  In addition, she assists our political strategy clients with issue research and strategic messaging.


Garcia is a native of Los Angeles County, California and double-majored in Middle East Studies and Political Science at UCSB.  She continues to be active in the College Republicans and work personally/professionally for political campaigns.

Phone: 949.274.9605 Ext. 705


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