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'Not Surprising' But 'So Shameful': Ousted by Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Crowley Heads to K Street Lobbying Firm

Toppled in 2018 primary by progressive challenger, the ex-lawmaker will lobby for a firm whose clients include Amazon, Royal Dutch Shell, UnitedHealth, and the Saudi monarchy

Joe Crowley

Then-Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) delivers remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After losing a primary race against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in what's been called last year's biggest political upset, former Congressman Joe Crowley is headed to one of K Street's largest law and lobbying firms—surprising no one, but garnering a fresh wave of criticism nonetheless.

Responding to the news on Twitter, Former New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout declared: "No, it is not surprising. But it is so shameful. Joe Crowley is selling twenty years of the goodwill of his constituents to the wealthy clients of Squire Patton Boggs."

Following months of speculation and reporting that he was being courted by various lobbying groups, news broke Tuesday that Crowley—alongside former Republican Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania—was hired by Squire Patton Boggs. Crowley told Politico in a statement,"We were honored to hear from many of the great firms in town since leaving Congress, and chose what we think is the very best place to continue our careers."

When Ocasio-Cortez, then a 28-year-old organizer, toppled the 10-term incumbent last year, she had said in her victory speech, "The message that we sent the world tonight is that it is not okay to put donors before your community." Crowley's move to K Street revived critiques of his priorities that tanked his bid to hold on to his U.S. House seat. As one New Yorker put it, "There is a reason that @AOC won my district."

Squire Patton Boggs counts among its clients several major corporations and governments across the globe. As Politico noted, "The firm's dozens of lobbying clients include Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and UnitedHealth, according to disclosure filings, as well as the governments of Cameroon, China, Croatia, Qatar, and South Korea, and the Palestinian Authority."

The Washington Post's Jeff Stein, citing the Center for Responsive Politics, added Amazon, Samsung, and Royal Dutch Shell to that list. Predicting Crowley's next moves based on the interests his new employer represents, Teachout tweeted, "So will Crowley end up lobbying against the Green New Deal and for Amazon?"

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Avi Asher-Schapiro of the Committee to Protect Journalists highlighted the firm's work for Saud al-Qahtani, an aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman—the man who is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.

Other critics noted that although Crowley was voted out of Congress, he remains the head of the Queens County Democrats, and called for him to be kicked out of that post.

"Not only should Joe Crowley be removed as head of the Queens County Democratic party, but we should also institute a rule mandating that no registered lobbyist can hold a position in the party leadership," said Prameet Kumar, a member of the Queens Community Board 6 and Queens County Democratic Committee. "It's not enough to target the individual. We need to reform the entire system."

Despite the heavy dose of criticism on Tuesday, Crowley and Shuster—who both have more than 10 months left before they can start lobbying federal lawmakers—are far from alone in exiting Congress and immediately taking jobs on K Street. As Politico outlined:

Former Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Luke Messer (R-Ind.), Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), Tom Rooney (R-Kan.), and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) have all joined lobbying firms, although not all of them plan to register to lobby. Former Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) have started their own consulting firms.

Squire Patton Boggs confirmed to the outlet that Crowley and Shuster—unlike some of their former congressional colleagues—both plan to register as lobbyists.

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