WASHINGTON - 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
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."
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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 this kind of pattern. In April,
House Financial Services Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) permanently banned a staffer-turned-lobbyist from
lobbying his committee.
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.
Click Here for a PDF of the report, titled "Banking