Dec. 15, 2004
Rep. Billy Tauzin Demonstrates That Washington’s “Revolving Door”
Is Spinning Out of Control
Public Citizen Calls for a Change in Ethics and Lobbying Rules
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The selection of outgoing U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) to be president of the pharmaceutical industry’s main lobbying group is yet another example of how public service is leading to private riches, Public Citizen said today.
Tauzin played a leading role in shepherding the Medicare prescription drug bill through Congress. The bill was a huge win for the pharmaceutical industry and prevented the federal government from using its buying power to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs. The $2 million that Tauzin reportedly will be paid in his new position means that he will be one of the highest paid lobbyists in Washington.
“It’s a sad commentary on politics in Washington that a member of Congress who pushed through a major piece of legislation benefiting the drug industry, gets the job leading that industry,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.
Added Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, “The largest lobbying operation in Washington has just raised the price tag for hiring the services of a former member of Congress. The revolving door is spinning out of control.”
The appointment of Tauzin to head the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) should stand as a wakeup call to the public that the lobbying rules covering former members of Congress who choose to represent special interests are inadequate, Claybrook said. Public Citizen is calling for the following reforms:
- Prohibit members of Congress from negotiating employment while serving in Congress.
- Increase the waiting period before a departing member of Congress can lobby his former colleagues from the current one year to three years.
- End the loophole through which former members can circumvent the lobbying ban by “supervising” lobbyists.
- Remove the congressional privileges that give former members of Congress access to members-only restricted areas such as dining rooms, gyms, cloak rooms and even the Senate and House floors.