Old Congress critters never die, they just fade away. Into lobbying firms, that is.
Take former House speaker Dennis Hastert, former House majority leaders Dick Armey and Dick Gephardt, and former Senate leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott. The names of these one-time legislative powerhouses aren’t mentioned in the news anymore, so perhaps you would assume that they’ve retired back to the old home place, or even passed away. But, no – they’re very much alive and still plying the legislative arts. Only they now do it for million-dollar paychecks as lobbyists for Wall Street financial giants and other corporate interests.
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Hastert, Armey, Gephardt, Dole, and Lott are among a cadre of 73 former members of congress who’ve been working in recent months to weaken or kill new regulations to rein in the gouging and reckless gambling of the big financial firms. They are not the only former public servants who’re now using their insider knowledge and personal connections in Washington to serve the bankers. For example, at least 66 staffers for the House or Senate banking committees have moved from Capitol Hill to the K-Street lobbying corridor, and another 82 staffers for members of those committees also are now lobbyists for the finance industry. Adding even more firepower to this special-interest army of influence peddlers are 42 former officials from the treasury department.
In an effort to slow down this shameless cashing-in on public service, the watchdog group, Public Citizen, contacted 47 current lawmakers who are retiring this year. The group asked them to pledge not to take a lobbying job for two years with any corporation that had lobbied them. Not a single one took the pledge. To see who the 47 are, and to get behind stricter lobbying rules, contact Public Citizen at www.citizen.org/revolvingdoor.
“Wall Street Hires Former Lawmakers as Lobbyists,” Public Citizen News Letter, July/August 2010.