The "revolving door" that swings between the public and private sector is a major source of corruption and favoritism in our government. Corporate interests often try to plant their own executives in the governmental agencies that have oversight over their company, thus "capturing" that agency. Conversely, corporate interests also often provide employment in the private sector to public officials with oversight over the company, thus influencing their official actions while in office. It is not uncommon for retiring public officials to cash in on their public service by putting their networks and insider knowledge for sale to the highest bidder as lobbyists.
As was mentioned in our news round-up, MSNBC reported yesterday on the abuse of the revolving door on Capitol Hill as it relates to the nuclear power industry. The report focuses on Alex Flint, a former staff director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he was a key player in legislation that provided billions of dollars in subsidies to the nuclear industry. Flint swung through the revolving door to become the chief lobbyist for the nuclear industry’s largest trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute.
This is not the first time Flint used public service for personal gain. He also served as a legislative assistant for Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), who in 1996 named him majority staff clerk to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. Four years later, Flint left to work for the lobbying firm of Johnston and Associates, whose clients then included NEI and many other nuclear industry interests—only later to return to public service with the Senate Energy and Natural resources Committee and, as noted above, again cash in through the revolving door.
You can learn more about the revolving door between the public and private sector on our website here.