The Swamp Gets Bigger

  • 17 January 2019
  • msell

Conservatives have dreamed of draining the DC swamp for decades. But their efforts -- even today -- are frustrated by the powerful financial allure for politicians to remain in DC long after their days in office are through. What do those ex-officeholders do? They search for lucrative jobs lobbying their former colleagues. The wave of officeholders defeated in 2018 are no exception:

While there aren't many out-of-work Democrats like [defeated Democratic Sen. Heidi] Heitkamp right now, more than 60 Republicans exited the House this month, and so many of them are considering heading to K Street that not all of them are likely to find work, according to interviews with lobbyists and headhunters.


"Former Republican congressmen are a dime a dozen right now," said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who left Congress a decade ago and is now a lobbyist for Holland & Knight.

"I think there are still a lot of people who are scrambling and looking" for new jobs, he added.

"There's not enough seats for everybody who wants in," one Republican lobbyist said, comparing the process to musical chairs.

The poor dears. But those who served on the right committees do have an advantage:

Ivan Adler, a headhunter who specializes in the lobbying business, compared the hiring process for former lawmakers to the NFL draft, in which the players drafted first typically come from colleges with standout football programs. The difference: In Congress, the big football schools are congressional leadership and the committees with jurisdiction over corporate America, such as the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Financial Services Committee.

Needless to say, peddling all this influence can be very rewarding...if you're willing to take just about anyone as a client:

Former Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — who told POLITICO she'd "absolutely" lobby for foreign governments — and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) have signed on with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who left Covington & Burling last year to fill the seat of the late Sen. John McCain, has returned to his old firm, which paid him nearly $1.9 million in 2017 and 2018, according to a disclosure filing.

There's more at the link (including stories of a few members who are shunning the lobbying hustle and actually returning home).

The way to stop this behavior is to cut the federal government down to size and remove its influence over as much of the private sector as possible. With fewer government favors to chase (or punishments to avoid) those lobbying shops would have very little to do.

So little they wouldn't need to hire former members of Congress to game the system. And as for those former members? They might just return home.