Revolving Door Class of 2019: Nearly Two-Thirds of Former Lawmakers With Jobs Outside Politics Land in Influence Business

Congressional Alumni Cash in on Public Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly two-thirds of recently retired members of Congress with new jobs outside of politics have spun through the revolving door to lobbying or other jobs influencing federal policy, a Public Citizen analysis has found.

The report found that 59% (26 of 44) of former members of the 115th Congress (2017-2019) who have found employment outside politics have gone through the revolving door. These lawmakers quickly found employment at lobbying firms, consulting firms, trade groups or business groups that work to influence the federal government. These former lawmakers cashed in on their connections by representing wealthy special interests who can afford to pay top dollar for insider information and influence.

Under current federal law, former federal lawmakers cannot lobby their legislative ex-colleagues for one year if they served in the U.S. House of Representatives and two years if they served in the U.S. Senate. However, they can immediately lobby executive agencies and can be hired by lobbying firms as “strategic consultants” advising lobbyists on how to approach lawmakers but avoiding lobbying contacts themselves.

Notable revolving-door lawmakers from the previous Congress include former U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), who works for lobbying giant Squire Patton Boggs, and former U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who works for lobbying firm Akin Gump, where he is registered to lobby in favor of the same controversial copper and gold mine in Alaska that he pushed for while in Congress. Those two firms, which are the largest in Washington, D.C., recently hired five former lawmakers between them.

“No lawmaker should be cashing in on their public service and selling their contacts and expertise to the highest bidder. Retired or defeated lawmakers should not serve as sherpas for corporate interests who are trying to write federal policy in their favor,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “We need to close the revolving door and enact fundamental and far-reaching reforms to our corrupt political system.”

The For the People Act (H.R. 1), which passed the House in March, enacts sweeping reforms that should raises ethics standards at all levels of government. Importantly, H.R. 1 would define “strategic consulting” as lobbying, closing that loophole for former members of Congress.

Read the full report here.