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HELENA — The University of Montana no longer employs Leo Giacometto, Sen. Conrad Burns' former chief of staff, as the school's lobbyist.

Dan Dwyer, UM's vice president for research and development, confirmed in an e-mail Monday that the university's contract with Giacometto's firm, Gage, expired at the end of last year. The contract was not renewed.

The university paid Giacometto's firm $68,750, Dwyer said, for a contract that began in February 2005 and ran until the end of the year.

Dwyer wouldn't say why the university did not renew the contract. Giacometto could not be reached for comment.

Giacometto is a founding partner in Gage, a Washington, D.C., lobbying and consulting firm formerly called The Giacometto Group.

He was Burns' chief of staff from 1995 to 1998. He also was a state legislator in Montana in the 1980s.

Gage registered as one of UM's two lobbying firms in May 2005, records show. Giacometto was one of five lobbyists from the firm registered to lobby for UM. Two others, Mike Rawson and Robert Arensberg, are also former staffers for Burns.

Dwyer said in his e-mail that the university hired Gage to help get federal money to "enhance the mission of the University."

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According to Gage's federally required lobby records for UM, the firm was seeking money to help UM build a school of public health and to get money for something called the Central Asia Network.

Dwyer said the school succeeded in getting language inserted in a U.S. foreign operations bill regarding the Central Asia Network, but no money. The school also received no money for its newly created School of Public Health.

Dwyer said the federal cost of Hurricane Katrina-related aid eliminated the prospect of getting money for the public health school.

Gage is the lobbying firm of another UM-related entity, the Inland Northwest Space Alliance, which is the subject of a NASA Office of Inspector investigation and an inquiry by the Montana Legislative Audit Division.

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