WASHINGTON • Christopher "Kit" Bond likes to say that he is neither shy nor retiring. He proved as much by starting work Monday at Thompson Coburn, a St. Louis-based law firm, two days before his successor is sworn in as Missouri's newest senator.
Bond did not seek re-election in November while finishing his fourth six-year term in the Senate, and his seat was captured by fellow Republican Roy Blunt, a congressman from southwestern Missouri.
Senate rules forbid outgoing senators from affiliating with new employers until they are technically out of office. Bond said he consulted Senate Ethics Committee lawyers and was told that he was off the Senate payroll and no longer a senator as of noon Monday.
"I decided to get right to work. Thompson Coburn was the first choice for me," Bond said in an interview.
Bond planned to formally announce his plans at a news conference this morning at the law firm's headquarters.
Bond, 71, who also served two terms as Missouri governor, graduated first in his class from the University of Virginia's law school in 1963.
Bond said he expects to work with the firm's clients on matters in which he developed expertise over the years, including trade, biotechnology, agriculture and transportation.
Bond also became one of the Senate's leading experts on Southeast Asia and said he envisioned working on business development issues that would benefit Missouri. He plans a trip to Asia in March.
"I'll be giving advice and offering my background on lots of different matters, whatever comes through the door," he said.
Bond will work from the firm's offices both in St. Louis and Washington. He will be unable to contact former colleagues regarding legislation until 2013 under ethics rules that prohibit members of Congress from lobbying for two years after leaving office.
Thomas Eagleton, a prominent Missouri Democrat who died in 2007, was employed by Thompson Coburn after leaving the U.S. Senate. The firm has more than 350 lawyers at various locations.
Thompson Coburn Chairman Tom Minogue called Bond's hiring "a great way to kick off the new year, and we couldn't be prouder. ... Senator Bond has been a tremendous friend of the business community during his 40 years of service."
Bond's early departure means that he must arrange special approval from the Senate sergeant at arms to be on the Senate floor Wednesday when Blunt is sworn in. Bond said he didn't mind.
"I'm anxious to get to work," he said.