Work for or serve in Congress, then lobby for Wall Street -- it's a recipe for enrichment used by hundreds, suggests a new 14-page report entitled "Banking on Connections: Financial Services Sector Has Dispatched Nearly 1,500 'Revolving Door' Lobbyists Since 2009" that sheds light on the corrupt heart of American government. -- Released Thursday by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics suggests, the report lists dozens of lobbyists, but unfortunately does not analyze how much is spent employing them. -- It does note that "The financial sector businesses employing the most revolving door lobbyists since the beginning of 2009 are: Citigroup (60), Visa (50), the American Bankers Association (49), Prudential Financial (47), and Goldman Sachs (47). -- Commenting on the report on the Huffington Post website, Arthur Delaney noted that "In the upper chamber, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) has a no-hope bill that would ban former members of Congress from K Street for life and force staffers to wait six years before they can lobby their former colleagues. The bill has one cosponsor. -- It's impossible even to get a retiring member of Congress to sign a pledge not to become a lobbyist, much less to support making it illegal." -- One blogger (and gifted song lyricist!) has proposed a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "No person having been a member, official, or aide of Congress or the Executive branch shall be compensated, outside of the federal government, for any advisory activity, directly or indirectly given, intended to influence any executive or legislative policy of the federal government." ...
For immediate release
Contact: Dave Levinthal, Center for Responsive Politics, (202) 354-0111; Angela Bradbery, Public Citizen, (202) 588-7741
REPORT: REVOLVING DOOR SPINS QUICKLY BETWEEN CONGRESS, WALL STREET
June 3, 2010
WASHINGTON -- Organizations in the financial services sector have deployed at least 1,447 former federal employees to lobby Congress and federal agencies since the beginning of 2009, according to a joint analysis of federal disclosure records and other data released today by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics. (Download the full report)
This small army of registered financial services sector lobbyists includes at least 73 former members of Congress, of whom 17 served on the banking committees of either the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate. At least 66 industry lobbyists worked for these committees as staffers, while 82 additional lobbyists once worked for congressional members who currently serve on these key committees.
Further, at least 42 financial services lobbyists formerly served in some capacity in the U.S. Treasury Department. At least seven served in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, including two former comptrollers.
“Wall Street hires former members of Congress and their staff for a reason," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. "These people are influential because they have personal relationships with current members and staff. It’s hard to say no to your friends, but that’s what Congress needs to do. Listening to them would result in a bill that would fail to get the job done and would disappoint the American people."
Added Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, “Companies pay a premium for lobbyists who’ve spun through the revolving door because it can be a small price to pay relative to the huge payoff if they can shape legislation. These lobbyists tap insider knowledge and personal relationships, knowing that their old friends and former co-workers won’t want to let them down."
Prominent former congressional members now lobbying on behalf of financial services sector interests include two former Senate majority leaders (Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Trent Lott, R-Miss.), two former House majority leaders (Dick Armey, R-Texas, and Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.) and a former speaker of the House (Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.).
The analysis is drawn from lobbying disclosure information filed with the secretary of the Senate, as well as the Center for Responsive Politics’ data.
The report includes tables listing former members of Congress, former staffers for the banking committees and lobbyists who previously worked for current banking committee members.
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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in federal politics and its effect on elections and public policy. For more information, please visit www.opensecrets.org/about.
REVOLVING DOOR: 1,447 FORMER GOVERNMENT WORKERS LOBBYING FOR WALL STREET
By Arthur Delaney
June 3, 2010
The financial services sector has hired 1,447 former government employees to do its bidding as lobbyists since the beginning of 2009, according to the latest report from the Center for Responsive Politics and Public Citizen.
Seventy-three of those lobbyists are former members of Congress -- four former Senate and House Majority Leaders and 17 former members of Senate and House banking committees. Sixty-six financial sector lobbyists formerly worked as banking staffers and 82 worked for members still serving on those committees.
What's to be done? Stop talking to colleagues who cash out, says Public Citizen's David Arkush.
"These people are influential because they have personal relationships with current members and staff," said Arkush in a statement. "It's hard to say no to your friends, but that's what Congress needs to do. Listening to them would result in a bill that would fail to get the job done and would disappoint the American people."
HuffPost has reported on the other side of this phenomenon: Lobbyists becoming staffers. In December, 16 of the 86 House Financial Services Committee staffers -- most of them senior lawyers -- previously worked as lobbyists.
"The door doesn't just revolve once," said Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.). "They tend to go out and come back and go out again. It really does create a set of financial incentives, whether conscious or not."
The Senate and House lobbying databases make these reports possible -- and not too difficult. Campaign for America's Future reported in May that the six biggest banks have 243 former staffers lobbying for them. Public Citizen reported that financial sector lobbyists specifically targeting derivatives legislation outnumber pro-reform lobbyists 11 to one. (Over the years, corporate lobbyists have always massively outnumbered their union and public interest counterparts. In 2006, the ratio stood at 25 to one.)
Some members are losing patience with the pattern. In April, House Financial Services Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) permanently banned a staffer-turned-lobbyist from lobbying his committee.
"The more effective and higher-paid lobbyists all worked for guys named Schumer and Frank and Dodd," said a Republican lobbyist whose name appears in the report. He said he didn't have much luck tweaking the Democrat-driven Wall Street reform bill. "They ain't hiring me to fix anything."
In the upper chamber, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) has a no-hope bill that would ban former members of Congress from K Street for life and force staffers to wait six years before they can lobby their former colleagues. The bill has one cosponsor.
It's impossible even to get a retiring member of Congress to sign a pledge not to become a lobbyist, much less to support making it illegal.