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Revolving Congress: The Revolving Door Class of 2019 Flocks to K Street

Nearly Two Thirds of Former Members of 115th Congress Working Outside Politics and Government Have Lobbying or Strategic Consulting Jobs

Nearly two-thirds of recently retired or defeated U.S. lawmakers now working outside politics have landed jobs influencing federal policy, providing further evidence that members of Congress continue to spin through Washington’s revolving door at astonishing rates.

In a new analysis, Public Citizen examined the post-Congress employment activities of the 115th Congress, which started in 2017 and concluded on Jan. 3 of this year.

Of the former members who have found new jobs outside of government and politics, 59% (26 of 44) were working for lobbying firms, consulting firms, trade groups or business groups working to influence federal government activities. Many others were working in television (14%) law (9%) corporate jobs (7%) academia (7%) or state-level groups (5%).

Category Count Pct.
Lobbying/consulting 22 50%
Business/Trade Group (Federal) 4 9%
Television 6 14%
Law 4 9%
Academia 3 7%
Corporate 3 7%
Business/Trade Group (State) 2 5%
Subtotal Federal Influence 26 59%
Grand Total 44 100%
Sources: Roll Call, Public Citizen research

Over the past two decades, concern has been building about members of Congress who flock to lobbying firms or trade groups after retiring or losing their seats. These revolving-door lawmakers cash in on their connections by representing wealthy special interests who can afford to pay top dollar for insider influence.

In the 115th Congress, there have been several notable examples of the revolving door activity, with two of the largest Washington, D.C. lobbying firms, Akin Gump and Squire Patton Boggs, hiring more than one former lawmaker.  Two of the largest Washington lobbying firms, Akin Gump and Squire Patton Boggs, recently have hired five former lawmakers between them.

Notable revolving-door lawmakers include:

  • Former Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), who was defeated in a primary challenge by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley now works for lobbying giant Squire Patton Boggs.
  • Former Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), who launched her own lobbying firm before she even left Congress.
  • Former Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who had pushed in Congress to allow a copper and gold mine in a remote part of Alaska, and now works for Akin Gump, lobbying in favor of that same mining operation.
  • Former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) left his lobbying job at Covington & Burling to serve in the Senate for only four months after the death of Sen. John McCain. Kyl then returned to Covington with his Senate contacts refreshed.

Public Citizen has long called attention to the revolving door between Congress and K Street. In a 2005 report “Congressional Revolving Doors: The Journey from Congress To K Street,” Public Citizen found that 43% of U.S. House and Senate lawmakers (86 out of 198) who left office between 1998 and 2004 became  registered lobbyists. These numbers exclude members who died in office, took a job in the executive branch or moved from the House to the Senate.

Further research has backed up these concerns. A 2016 paper by Georgia State University political science professor Jeffrey Lazarus and researchers found that 25% of 1,275 U.S. House members and 29% of 254 U.S. Senators who left Congress between 1976 and 2012 registered as lobbyists., with the percentage steadily increasing over time.  House members who were party leaders, committee chairs or members of important committees were likely to become lobbyists, the Georgia State researchers found.

By going through Washington’s revolving door, lawmakers are effectively trading in on their relationships and knowledge to help companies profit and to enrich themselves – a pattern that has been in place for many years. The most famous and egregious example of Washington’s revolving door problem came in 2004, when Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) announced he would leave Congress to accept a $2 million a year salary as head of PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s main lobbying organization. Tauzin was chief architect of the 2003 prescription drug legislation that prohibited the federal Medicare program from negotiating lower drug prices. Tauzin left PhRMA in 2010, earning more than $11 million in his final year at the trade group,  but remains a lobbyist with clients in health care and other industries.

Currently, federal ethics laws provide minimal protections against influence-peddling by former members of Congress. Former members of the House of Representatives are barred from making lobbying contacts with their ex-colleagues for one year. A two-year ban applies to former Senate lawmakers.

However, loopholes in the ethics laws diminish the impact of these modest “cooling off” periods. For example, former lawmakers can immediately turn around and lobby executive agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, the Federal Trade Commission or the Food and Drug Administration so long as they do not lobby Congress. Former lawmakers are also able to brand themselves as “strategic consultants” who advise registered lobbyists on strategies for approaching lawmakers, but do not make lobbying contacts with lawmakers themselves.  This loophole, nicknamed the Daschle loophole, after former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) who worked for several major D.C. law and lobbying firms for more than a decade but did not register as a lobbyist until 2016, is a common way to meet the technical requirements of the law while ignoring the law’s intended purpose.

Some former lawmakers have been quite open about how easy it to advise corporate clients on lobbying strategy and still comply with lobbying rules.  In 2013, after leaving the Senate to join Covington & Burling for the first time, Kyl told the Washington Post there is a “a huge amount of work that can be done” legally even while restricted by a two-year cooling off period. Kyl added:

“[Clients] need advice and counsel from someone who knows how government works in Washington … That’s the kind of advice I can give without getting into lobbying. I can provide my insights into the people and process on Capitol Hill for them to take advantage of in the lobbying they do.”

-Former Sen. John Kyl, Washington Post, March 2013

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.

Lawmakers in both parties have introduced ethics reforms that go further. Legislation by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) would impose a five-year ban on lobbying for members of Congress and the executive branch. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has proposed to permanently ban all elected officials from lobbying. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) have proposed a lifetime lobbying ban for all members of Congress, as have Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

Lobbying and Consulting Firms

  • Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) – Foley & Lardner

Capuano was hired by law firm Foley and Lardner as a public affairs director in the firm’s “government solutions” practice. Capuano, known as a strong progressive on Capitol Hill, was defeated in a Democratic primary by Rep. Ayanna Pressley. At Foley, Capuano joined joining two other former members of Congress, Scott Klug (R-Wisc.) and Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.). In a statement, Cardoza said that Capuano’s “diverse background serving on committees focused on transportation, infrastructure and financial services fits perfectly in line with the current needs of our clients around the world.”

  • Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) – Baker Donelson

After losing her Northern Virginia seat to Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) Comstock was hired as a senior adviser in government relations and public policy by law firm Baker Donelson. Comstock will “provide invaluable guidance to businesses and individuals involved in high-stakes oversight hearings” and “provide experienced counsel on technology and cybersecurity issues,” Baker Donelson said in a statement touting Comstock’s “offer a bipartisan and strategic approach to developing solutions.” Unlike many revolving door lawmakers, Comstock has prior lobbying experience. Before her election, Comstock had previously worked as a lobbyist and PR representative after founding her own public affairs firm with another Republican aide Mark Corallo. During the 2000s, Comstock represented clients including Comcast, private prison firm GEO Group, Hearst Corp and the National Association of Broadcasters.

  • Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) – Squire Patton Boggs

Law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs hired Crowley, who lost a primary race to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) Crowley was hired along with former Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). Both Crowley and Shuster are leading an initiative at the industry-funded Bipartisan Policy Center to find new ways to finance highways and infrastructure, including ending federal reliance on gas taxes, which would benefit oil companies. Crowley also was named an honorary co-chairman of the Pass USMCA Coalition, which is advocating for Trump’s revised North American Free Trade Agreement in Congress. Squire Patton Boggs was the fourth largest D.C. lobbying firm last year, with total lobbying income of more than $24 million. Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham University law professor and former candidate for New York attorney general, tweeted that Crowley “is selling twenty years of the goodwill of his constituents to the wealthy clients of Squire Patton Boggs.”  Along with former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) Crowley has joined the advisory board of Northern Swan Holdings, which has raised $96 million to expand investing in marijuana cultivation in Latin America as part of a plan to “invest in new low-cost, large-scale cannabis cultivation and processing centers and build out distribution channels and brands in Europe, Latin America and North America.”

  • John Culberson (R-Texas) – Clark Hill

Culberson, a Republican from Houston lost his reelection campaign, to a Democratic challenger, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher.  Culberson was a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA and was a supporter of space exploration.  After being hired by lobbying firm Clark Hill, Culberson told Politico that “I knew I wanted to continue my work as an advocate for NASA to protect the good work I’ve already done.” The head of Clark Hill’s government and public affairs practice said Culberson’s “arrival is a game-changer for our government affairs practice and the firm’s clients,” citing his expertise in aerospace, defense, energy, financial services, health care, life sciences, higher education and research.

  • Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) – DLA Piper

The centrist Republican announced his retirement in September 2017, then left Congress in May 2018 to work for law and lobbying firm DLA Piper, which reported $6.5 million in lobbying last year. A biography of Dent on DLA Piper’s website says Dent “provides strategic advice and counsel to clients on the federal, state and local level on subjects including but not limited to defense, life sciences, transportation, homeland security, infrastructure, health issues, energy, and international investment, trade and commerce.”

  • Jeff Denham (R-Calif) – K&L Gates

A California Republican, Denham was hired by law and lobbying firm K&L Gates, which touted his “significant transportation and infrastructure policy experience, as well as agriculture, natural resources, and energy knowledge.” Denham told Politico that he would “continue on a lot of the work that I’ve done both in the [California] state Senate and in Congress.” Denham also touted his relationships with Trump administration officials and said that a lot of my closest friends are the people I came in with — Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney “ the Secretary of State and acting White House chief of staff, both of whom were also  elected during the 2010 Republican wave.

  • Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) – Akin Gump

After losing his election race to Sen. Mike Braun, Donnelly joined lobbying and law powerhouse Akin Gump in April. Donnelly is advising financial services, defense and health care clients, saying in a statement that he looks forward to “putting my legislative skills to work on behalf of many of Akin Gump’s clients.” The co-chair of the firm’s public law and policy practice, Brian Pomper, said Donnelly’s experience “will be invaluable to our clients who are navigating this era of a divided government.” Akin Gump was the top lobbying firm in D.C. last year, with total lobbying income of nearly $38 million.

  • Lynn Jenkins (R- Kan.) – LJ Strategies

Before she even left Congress, Jenkins launched her own lobbying firm, LJ Strategies. In a Facebook post, Jenkins wrote that her new firm will provide “strategic analysis, comprehensive federal and state government relations, political consulting, and association management.” The Kansas City Star’s editorial board criticized Jenkins, saying that her decision “to start a lobbying company before she even leaves Congress turns a troublesome revolving door into a wide-open window of potential conflicts of interest.” The firm also employs Jenkins’ former chief of staff. A spokeswoman for Jenkins said she discussed her plan to form the business with the House Ethics Committee, and told McClatchy that, “the business has no clients and will not be actively seeking them until she leaves office.”

  • Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) – Covington & Burling

A longtime member of Congress who represented Arizona for 26 years including three terms in the Senate,  Kyl retired in 2013 to join the law and lobbying firm Covington and Burling. During the Trump administration, while at Covington, Kyl worked to shepherd the nominations of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. After Sen. John McCain died in fall 2018, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey selected Kyl as McCain’s temporary replacement, and Kyl voted to place Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Kyl had previously represented a slew of corporate clients in the technology, pharmaceutical, retail, beer and defense contracting industries. He represented Facebook in handling Republican allegations that the social media platform was biased against conservative points of view. Other notable clients have included the drug industry trade group PhRMA, defense contractor Northrup Grumman and chip company Qualcomm. After leaving the Senate at the end of 2018 and returning to Covington, Kyl refused to disclose the identities of nine clients in his official financial disclosure rules, citing confidentiality requirements that are disputed by ethics experts. As a former member of the Senate, Kyl is now barred from lobbying for two years, but has refreshed his relationships with members of the Senate and can still engage in “shadow lobbying” activities such as giving corporate clients advice on strategy for dealing with Washington lawmakers and government officials.

  • Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) – LoBo Strategies

The New Jersey lawmaker and moderate Republican, LoBiondo formed a consulting firm called LoBo Strategies to advise clients on defense, intelligence and national security issues. LoBiondo, who retired from Congress in 2018, was on several committees dealing with transportation, armed services and intelligence issues. LoBiondo did not rule out doing lobbying work in the future but said he would focus on strategic advice.” The companies we are talking to already have their own lobbyists and public relations people,” LoBiondo told  the Press of Atlantic City, while not ruling out doing lobbying in the future. “They want strategists, not lobbyists,” said Jason Galanes, the congressman’s former chief of staff and communications director, who is working with LoBiondo at the new firm. The firm’s website stresses LoBiondo’s experience and relationships, and touts the former congressman’s expertise on aviation, defense, drones, intelligence, maritime/U.S. Coast Guard issues, national security and cyber security, transportation and fisheries. “Understanding the inner workings of Congress and the personal prerogatives of those who currently shape public policy is a tradecraft few possess unless they have spent decades cultivating those relationships. We guide our clients through the legislative process – from identifying key Members of Congress or committee staff to engage to troubleshooting bureaucratic obstacles that may arise – to advance their specific issue,” the website says.

  • Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) – Cranmer Consultants

Murphy resigned from Congress in 2017 after text messages revealed that the anti-abortion lawmaker he urged his mistress to have an abortion,. He then became a federal consultant for the Pittsburgh-based lobbying firm Cranmer Consultants, where he consults for health care, energy and manufacturing firms, according to his official biography

  • Luke Messer (R-Ind.)Fagre Baker Daniels

This former Indiana lawmaker has spent his career going back and forth between government and industry. He started out as a lawyer for Koch Industries, worked as a congressional aide and on congressional campaigns and then worked for a prominent Indianapolis law firm. While executive director of the Indiana Republican Party, Messer was appointed to the Indiana House of Representatives to replace a lawmaker killed in a car accident. After serving from 2003-2006, Messer took a spin through the revolving door, working for law and lobbying firm Ice Miller while still finishing his term. (Messer said he did not start until the state’s legislative session was over and was focused on federal issues until his term ended.) Messer, who was a registered federal lobbyist for Clarian Health Partners Inc.,  ran one unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House, then was elected to Congress in 2012 after Mike Pence, the current vice president, was elected governor. Messer ran an unsuccessful campaign for Senate in 2018, losing in the Republican primary to Indiana businessman Mike Braun, a former state lawmaker. Messer then was hired by lobbying firm Faegre Baker Daniels as co-chairman of the firm’s federal advocacy practice. Though he is barred from lobbying Congress for a year, Messer is allowed to lobby the Trump administration, telling Politico that he would “start my efforts focused on the executive branch.” Meseer’s official biography at Faegre Baker Daniels says that the former congressman “advises on executive branch activity, including navigating interactions with agency leaders and regulators. He distills complicated federal government developments into prompt, precise messages that keep his clients ahead of the curve.”

  • David Reichert (R-Wash.) – Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs

A moderate Republican from the Seattle area and a former county sheriff, Reichert retired from Congress rather than seek reelection. Democrats ultimately flipped his seat, with Rep. Kim Schrier taking Reichert’s former seat. Reichert joined the lobbying firm Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs, and said he may start lobbying after the one-year cooling off period expires. The firm said Reichert, formerly chairman of a House subcommittee on trade issues, will advise clients on global trade issues and work on a State Department-sponsored project to combat human trafficking.

  • Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) R&B Strategies

The Republican from Orange County, Calif. lost his election  to Rep. Harley Rouda, a Democrat. Rohrabacher has said he plans to set up a consulting firm, R&B Strategies, with his former top aide Paul Behrends, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as a partner at R&B Strategies LLC. This firm disclosed $35,000 in lobbying income from law firm Crowell & Moring LLP related to “defense contacts on human rights.”  Rohrabacher, who was a champion of marijuana reform while in Congress. recently joined the board of BudTrader.com, which bills itself as “the largest online cannabis social media site” and became an adviser to  a Canadian cannabis oil firm, PharmaCielo. “As we look at the medicinal benefits of cannabis, with a particular emphasis on its oil extracts, the United States needs to be able to guarantee our citizens have access to the finest products available from the global and domestic communities alike,” Rohrabacher said in a statement.

  • Tom Rooney (R-Fla.)  –  Buchannan Ingersoll & Rooney 

After serving in Congress for 10 years, Rooney retired at the end of 2018. He joined law and lobbying firm Buchannan Ingersoll and Rooney, a major Pittsburgh law firm with close ties to his family, which owns the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rooney’s grandfather, Art Rooney, was the founding owner of the Steelers, and current president and general counsel of the Steelers, Arthur Rooney II, has long worked at the same law firm. Rooney’s law firm biography says he is “well-versed in the ins and outs of Washington, D.C., the federal appropriations process and how best to use his experience to help advance clients’ needs and interests” citing his tenure on several House Appropriations Committee subcommittees as well as service on intelligence subcommittees. It also notes that Rooney “was a champion on behalf of Florida agriculture and livestock industries – which he continues to focus on in his new role.”

  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) – Akin Gump

The first female Hispanic lawmaker in Congress, Ros-Lehtinen was hired by lobbying powerhouse Akin Gump, which recorded nearly $38 million in lobbying income last year. Ros-Lehtinen said she was attracted to the firm’s client base across Latin America. “I look forward to working with many of the firm’s clients there, including in places such as Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and throughout Central America, to help them address their public policy goals and challenges,” she said. While not permitted to lobby Congress for one year, Ros-Lehtinen is allowed to lobby federal agencies. In the first quarter of 2019, she represented a media investment fund on U.S. relations with Poland. Ros-Lehtinen also represents Oscar Cerna, an American businessman, who claims that the Honduran government illegally took his cement company, according to Politico. 

  • Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) – GrayRobinson

After retiring from Congress, Ross joined law and lobbying firm GrayRobinson in its Lakeland, Fla. office. GrayRobinson, which recently purchased a DC lobbying firm, said in a press release that Ross will not lobby Congress until next January but will advise clients “regarding legal, policy, and economic development issues’ and work with the firm’s state and federal lobbyists. Ross is also a political science professor and director of a politics center at Southeastern University.

  • Ed Royce (R-Calif.) – Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Royce, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of Congress since 1993, was hired by lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Royce told Politico that he is planning to register as a lobbyist and will be “giving insights, giving advice, giving direction to companies that are involved in international business,” and lobbying on domestic issues.  Royce said he’d decide “on a case-by-case basis” whether to lobby for foreign governments.

  • Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) – Squire Patton Boggs

Shuster, former chairman of the House Transportation Committee retired from Congress and joined Squire Patton Boggs along with Crowley. Shuster, who succeeded his father, Bud Shuster, in Congress, seemed to imply that going to work for a lobbying firm was tantamount to government service, issuing a statement saying that joining the lobbying firm “gives Joe and me an opportunity to work with the best in the business on tackling some of our nation’s most pressing needs, including prioritizing an infrastructure agenda.” As the transportation panel’s chairman, Shuster pushed to privatize air traffic control and criticized airline safety regulation, claiming that, “Too often we are seeing unnecessary regulatory burdens that do not serve to improve actual aircraft safety. It seems to be a process simply for the sake of process.”

  • Lamar Smith (R-Texas) – Akin Gump

The now-retired Texas Republican served in the House since 1987. Smith, who was chairman of the House Science Committee, was an ardent opponent of environmental regulations and a denier of climate science and a major recipient of oil and gas industry money   Smith  pushed the Trump administration to allow a controversial copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, a remote area in southwestern Alaska. Hired by Akin Gump in January, Smith has now registered to lobby in favor of the Pebble Limited Partnership, which has proposed the mine and is owned by Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. Pebble Mine is opposed by environmental groups, commercial fishermen and was opposed by one of the richest men in Alaska, a Trump supporter who died last year. In addition to the proposed mine, Smith also has registered to lobby for drug giant Pfizer Inc, agricultural tracking technology firm HerdX and oil and gas pipeline construction firm Otis Eastern Service. 

  • Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) – HHQ Ventures 

Yoder lost his election to a Democrat, Rep. Sharice Davids, who became one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. He was quickly hired by HHQ Ventures, an advocacy and business advisory firm where former Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is a partner. Yoder told Politico that he expects to register as a lobbyist  and work “on many of the same issues and projects I worked on while I was in the House, just from a different perspective.” The firm represents T-Mobile, which is merging with Sprint, based in Yoder’s Kansaas district. Yoder’s  biography touts his service on a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee on homeland security issues, where he drafted a spending bill that provided more than $50 billion to immigration, customs and border security, as well on his work securing funding for biomedical research and for employment-based green cards. 

 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) – U.S. Gold Corp., Artillery One, Turnberry Solutions

Zinke, a former congressman from Montana, briefly served in Congress in 2017 before he was  confirmed to lead the Interior Department, a tenure plagued by scandals, investigations and allegations of misconduct.  After Politico reported on a real-estate deal between Zinke’s family foundation and the chairman of fossil fuel services company Halliburton, Zinke became a liability  to the White House and resigned in December 2018 with his political star diminished. Shortly thereafter, Zinke  was hired by Artillery One, a cryptocurreny investment firm, where he is a managing director. He was hired as a senior adviser for Turnberry Solutions, a lobbying shop that also hired former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The firm, based in a rowhouse where Lewandowski has stayed while in D.C., said Zinke would likely register as a lobbyist. Zinke also signed a consulting contract of up to $120,000 per year with a small Nevada gold mining firm U.S. Gold Corp., saying he would “help make mining great again in America” but telling the Associated Press that he will not contact Interior Department officials. “I don’t lobby,” he told the AP.  “I just follow the law, so I don’t talk to anybody on the executive side or influence” anyone.  U.S. Gold Corp’s CEO, Edward Karr, praised Zinke’s “in-depth knowledge of the governmental regulatory and permitting process for mining and exploration companies.”

Business Interests/Trade Groups – Federal Issues

  • Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) – Americans for Carbon Dividends

This moderate Republican from suburban Philadelphia was a critic of Trump and decided not to run for reelection. He was replaced by a Democrat, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. After leaving office, Costello was hired by Americans for Carbon Dividends, an effort funded by energy companies ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips that seeks to impose a gradually increasing price on carbon emissions and provide  dividend payments for all Americans. The plan is coupled with regulatory rollbacks including the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate regulations and lawsuit protections for energy companies.  In a recent op-ed, Costello called for Republicans to  “advance a realistic solution and retake the climate debate.” While many climate experts believe that the conservative embrace of such plans are a positive after many years of climate denialism, there is considerable reason for concern that they would not do enough to stop the climate emergency.

  • Carlos Curbelo (R-Fl) – Alliance for Market Solutions, Cannabis Trade Federation

After losing his reelection campaign, Curbelo, a Florida Republican, joined the board  of the Alliance for Market Solutions, a conservative group formed to push market-oriented climate change policies. While in Congress, Curbelo had introduced the first Republican climate change legislation in a decade. Curbelo also was hired by the Cannabis Trade Federation as a senior adviser, working to relax marijuana laws. Curbelo is also on the advisory board of the Millennial Action Project, a bipartisan policy group.

  • Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) – Calhoun Port Authority

After resigning from Congress due to a sexual harassment scandal, Farenthold was quickly hired in a $160,000 per year job lobbying for the Calhoun Port Authority  in his home state of Texas. The port, run by a publicly elected board, said in a statement at the time that it appreciated  “the services Blake can provide in assisting the Port with matters in Washington, D.C.” But Farenthold’s hiring proved controversial locally, with a local newspaper alleging in a lawsuit that the port’s board had violated open-government laws in hiring Farenthold for a newly created position that was not posted publicly. The port’s board deadlocked on whether to fire him. Farenthold resigned from the port in January 2019. Farenthold wrote in his resignation letter that he had “made significant progress with Republicans and Democrats alike and have set the groundwork” for legislation that would benefit the port.  However, Farenthold wrote that “being a full-time employee of the Port Authority prevents me from pursuing other interests and opportunities” and said he would look forward to continuing working on behalf of the port “when it becomes legal and ethical for me to assist the port as a non-employee.”

  • Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) – Pass USMCA Coalition

The Minnesota Republican, who lost his reelection bid, was named honorary co-chairman of the Pass USMCA Coalition, along with Crowley and former Obama-era Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. The coalition is a group of businesses and trade groups pushing to enact the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement in Congress. The coalition’s executive director is Rick Dearborn, a former White House official under Trump.

Business/Trade Groups -State Issues

  • Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) – Ohio’s Future Foundation

Renacci initially entered the Ohio governor’s race, but instead decided to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who easily defeated Renacci to win re-election. Renacci  has launched a nonprofit business advocacy group called the Ohio’s Future Foundation. Renacci is the group’s chairman. A former Renacci political aide, Jeff Anthony, is its executive director. The group has advocated against renewable energy and against an increase in gasoline taxes. After Renacci left Congress, the Office of Congressional Ethics found  that Renacci violated ethics rules barring campaign activities in congressional offices. Renacci will not face any sanctions as he has departed from Congress.

  • Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) – Ohio Business Roundtable

Tiberi, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee who was close to Republican Party leadership, resigned in fall 2017 and was named CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, a group that includes CEOs of the state’s largest business.


  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) – Fox Corp.

The U.S. House Speaker from October 2015 to January 2019, and a former vice presidential candidate, Ryan joined the board of Fox Corp., the corporate entity holding Fox News, Fox Sports and television stations. Ryan also will be a guest lecturer in political science and economics at the University of Notre Dame.

  • Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) – UBS AG.

The former House Financial Services Committee Chairman was hired by UBS AG, the Swiss banking giant as executive vice chairman of the Americas region, based in Dallas.  In doing so, Hensarling followed the path of his mentor and former boss, former Sen. Phil Gramm, another Texan, who was hired by UBS in 2003 after leaving Congress and retired in 2012.  A top UBS executive said in a statement that Hensarling will help “strengthen our most important client relationships across our businesses.”

  • Todd Roika (R-Ind.) – Apex Benefits

Rokita, a former Indiana Secretary of State, resigned his House seat to run for U.S. Senate, losing a three-way primary election to businessman Mike Braun, who then defeated former Sen. Joe Donnelly in the general election. Rokita was hired by Indianapolis-based benefits firm Apex Benefits as general counsel and vice president of external affairs. The company said in a press release that Rokita would “oversee corporate legal strategies and serve as a representative for Apex and an advocate for its customers by leading public policy initiatives throughout Indiana and the nation.” Rokita was nominated by President Trump to be a member of Amtrak’s board of directors, even though Rokita voted to end public funding of the railway, a move that “should worry every passenger” according to the Rail Passengers Association.


  • Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) – Nelson Mullins

Gowdy, a former prosecutor who gained national attention as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, was hired by law firm Nelson Mullins, where he worked in the 1990s. His law firm biography says that Gowdy “focuses his practice on corporate and governmental compliance and investigations.” Gowdy ruled out returning to politics. “There’s no way I’ll return to it,” Gowdy told the Greenville News. “I’m not going to lobby. And if I enjoyed politics, I wouldn’t be leaving.”

  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii)Law practice

After a failed Democratic primary challenge to Hawaii Gov David Ige, Hanabusa returned to her law practice.  Hanabusa  represented the Hawaii state legislature, which is defending itself against a lawsuit filed by two public interest groups against the legislative practice of “gut and replace,” or passing bills that have had their original content entirely removed. The groups’ challenge was rejected  by a state judge, but the plaintiffs plan to appear. Hanabusa  also is a law professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

  • Luther Strange (R-Ala.) Patomak Global Partners

Strange, a former lobbyist who ran the Washington government affairs office of a gas utility, was attorney general of Alabama when he was appointed to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat in the U.S. Senate. Strange then lost a primary race to Roy Moore, who was later defeated by Doug Jones, a Democrat. Strange was hired as a senior advisor by consulting firm Patomak Global Partners, which is led by a former member Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, Paul Atkins. The firm said in a press release that Strange would counsel clients on “corporate investigations, monitorships, compliance and enforcement matters.” Strange told Bloomberg that  the job involves a “great combination of compliance and legal work.” Atkins told Bloomberg that Strange will contribute to the firm’s work as the official monitor in legal settlements with federal and state agencies. “There are so many senators who get ‘Potomac fever’ and they stay here and join a lobbying firm,” Atkins told Bloomberg. Instead, he said, Strange will be doing a job that “is real work, versus smiling and dialing.” Strange also has a law firm in Alabama and is a director at a local bank.

Former Members of 115th Congress (2017-2019) Employed Outside Politics/Government

Member Chamber Employer Category
Jon Kyl, R-AZ Senate Covington & Burling Lobbying/consulting
Luther Strange, R-AL Senate Patomak Global Partners; Luther Strange & Associates Law
Claire McCaskill, D-MO Senate NBC/MSNBC Television
Jeff Flake, R-AZ Senate CBS Television
Joe Donnelly, D-IN Senate Akin Gump Lobbying/consulting
Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND Senate CNBC Television
Jason Chaffetz, R-UT House Fox News Television
Pat Tiberi, R-OH House CEO, Ohio Business Roundtable State Business/Trade Group
Tim Murphy, R-PA House Cranmer Consultants Lobbying/consulting
Charlie Dent, R-PA House DLA Piper Lobbying/consulting
Ryan Zinke, R-MT House Artillery One, Turnberry Solutions, U.S. Gold Corp. Lobbying/consulting
Blake Farenthold, R-TX House Lobbyist for Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort (left in Jan 2019) Business/Trade Group
Paul D. Ryan, R-WI House Fox News board Corporate
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL House Akin Gump Lobbying/consulting
Mark Sanford, R-SC House University of Chicago Academia
Dave Brat, R-VA House Dean of Liberty University business school Academia
Barbara Comstock, R-VA House Baker Donelson Lobbying/consulting
Carlos Curbelo, R-FL House Alliance for Market Solutions/Cannabis Trade Federation Business/Trade Group
Ryan A. Costello, R-PA House Americans for Carbon Dividends Business/Trade Group
Dave Trott, R-MI House Real estate lawyer Law
Mia Love, R-UT House CNN Television
Colleen Hanabusa, D-HI House University of Hawaii at Manoa; law practice Law
Joseph Crowley, D-NY House Squire Patton Boggs Lobbying/consulting
Dave Reichert, R-WA House Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs Lobbying/consulting
Lynn Jenkins, R-KS House LJ Strategies Lobbying/consulting
James B. Renacci, R-OH House Ohio’s Future Foundation State Business/Trade Group
Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA House Launching R&B Strategies Lobbying/consulting
Ed Royce, R-CA House Brownstein Hyatt Lobbying/consulting
Jeff Denham, R-CA House K&L Gates Lobbying/consulting
Todd Rokita, R-IN House Apex Benefits Corporate
Luke Messer, R-IN House Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting Lobbying/consulting
Frank A. LoBiondo, R-NJ House LoBo Strategies Lobbying/consulting
Michael E. Capuano, D-MA House Foley & Lardner Lobbying/consulting
Trey Gowdy, R-SC House Nelson Mullins Law
Kevin Yoder, R-KS House HHQ Ventures Lobbying/consulting
Dennis A. Ross, R-FL House Gray Robinson Lobbying/consulting
Lamar Smith, R-TX House Akin Gump Lobbying/consulting
John Culberson, R-TX House Clark Hill Lobbying/consulting
Jeb Hensarling, R-TX House UBS Corporate
Bill Shuster, R-PA House Squire Patton Boggs Lobbying/consulting
Peter Roskam, R-IL House U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, University of Chicago Academia
Luis V. Gutierrez, D-IL House CNN Television
Tom Rooney, R-FL House Buchanan Ingersol and Rooney Lobbying/consulting
Erik Paulsen, R-MN House Pass USMCA Coalition Business/Trade Group