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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during a rally at Howard University May 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Sunrise Movement held an event for the final stop of the "Road to a Green New Deal" tour to "explore what the pain of the climate crisis looks like in D.C. and for the country and what the promise of the Green New Deal means."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a rally at Howard University May 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

AOC Calls for Ban on Revolving Door as Study Shows Two-Thirds of Recently Departed Lawmakers Now K Street Lobbyists

"No lawmaker should be cashing in on their public service and selling their contacts and expertise to the highest bidder."

Eoin Higgins

One of Capitol Hill's most popular new Democrats on Thursday called for a total ban on the revolving door that allows lawmakers to jump from Congress into K Street lobbying firms as soon as they leave office.

In a tweet, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said that former members of Congress "shouldn't be allowed to turn right around and leverage your service for a lobbyist check."

"I don't think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you've served in Congress," said Ocasio-Cortez. "At minimum there should be a long wait period."

After the Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm elections, 44 federal lawmakers left office and found private sector jobs. A Public Citizen analysis, released Thursday, found that of those 44, 26 "were working for lobbying firms, consulting firms, trade groups or business groups working to influence federal government activities." 

Among those that made the switch are former Rep. Joe Crowley, the Democrat who Ocasio-Cortez unseated, and former Rep. Mike Capuano, a Suffolk County, Massachusetts Democrat whose progressive credentials weren't enough to stop now-Rep. Ayanna Pressley from besting him in the 2018 Democratic primary. 

Former legislators like Crowley and Capuano came in for criticism from Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. In a statement, Weissman took aim at what the revolving door does to Washington politics.

"No lawmaker should be cashing in on their public service and selling their contacts and expertise to the highest bidder," said Weissman. "Retired or defeated lawmakers should not serve as sherpas for corporate interests who are trying to write federal policy in their favor."

"We need to close the revolving door and enact fundamental and far-reaching reforms to our corrupt political system," Weissman added.

In the study, Public Citizen provides a path toward fixing the problem.

Several pieces of legislation would strengthen these ethics laws for former government officials. The For the People Act (H.R. 1), which passed the House of Representatives in March, enacts sweeping reforms that would raise ethics standards at all levels of government. Importantly, H.R. 1 would define "strategic consulting" as lobbying for former members of Congress, subjecting this activity to the existing revolving door restrictions. The legislation would also bar former executive branch officials from doing "strategic consulting" on behalf of a lobbying campaign as well as making direct lobbying contacts for two years after leaving government service.

But, as Ocasio-Cortez pointed out in a series of tweets, there's more to consider than just banning—or at the least delaying—lawmaker entrance into lobbying firms. The nature of congressional pay and the necessities of the work, Ocasio-Cortez said, make the easy money of lobbying very attractive to members of Congress. 

"Keeping it real," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "the elephant in the room with passing a lobbying ban on members requires a nearly-impossible discussion about congressional pay."


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'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·


In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

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