A new rush of soon-departing legislators has started to find a comfortable K Street job.
Rep. G.K. According to two Democratic lobbyists, Butterfield (D.N.C.), announced his retirement last January after the redefinition of his district by state Republicans. Two Democratic lobbyists claim that Rep. Ron Kind, a fellow retiring congressman has been in touch with Squire Patton Boggs (powerhouse lobbying and law) for some time.
Ivan Adler, a lobbying recruiter, said that it’s the right time of year. He said, “There will absolutely be many new faces on K Street in January.”
Rep. Cheri Busti (D.Ill.), who decided not to run for another term, may be one of them. According to two Democratic lobbyists, she has spoken with Akin Gump StraussHauer & Feld. According to Bustos’ spokesperson, she had conversations with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. However, she did not make a decision about her next steps. She said that Bustos intended to finish her term.
The path to the exits follows a long history of ex-legislators making a fortune in Washington. While there are rules that prevent legislators from having undue influence over their former colleagues, they do not stop them from selling their experience to prospective employers.
Ex-legislators are forbidden from lobbying former colleagues during the ” cooling off period“. This lasts for one year for House members, and two for senators.
They may however, start advising clients immediately (except for foreign parties or governments that intend to influence the government). They can provide guidance on the internal workings of the congressional conference, as well as a better understanding of individual member’s interests and access to their contacts list.
This type of advising is known as “shadow lobbying,” according to Jeff Hauser, founder and CEO of the Revolving Door Project. The group focuses on corporate influence in the federal government. Hauser stated that there was no enforcement mechanism beyond the press for these congressional rules.
It is unclear, besides Bustos’s involvement in talks with lobbying companies, if any of the current members will be leaving Congress before the Jan. 3 expiration of their term. If they did, it could hinder the Democratic Party’s ability to move several lame duck legislative initiatives.
A spokesperson for Akingump declined to comment. Butterfield and Kind representatives did not respond to requests for comment. McGuireWoods representatives did not respond to requests for comment. Angelo Kakolyris was a spokesperson for Squire Patton Boggs. He said that he wasn’t aware of Kind’s conversations but added, in a statement: “We’re always speaking to people and as an overall policy don’t comment on recruiting efforts.”
At least one member in the 117th Congress has made it through the revolving doors. A former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela is now with the lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. This triggered a special election for his Texas district. He registered shortly thereafter under the Lobbying Disclosure Act in order to lobby for the Port of Corpus Christi Authority and other clients.
Ex-legislators are a unique source of insight and relationships that can be a huge advantage to lobbying firms. Butterfield, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, was first elected in 2004 to the House. He currently serves on the Energy and Commerce panel. Kind, who is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee has been in office since 1997.
One Democratic lobbyist stated that the only thing that has the greatest value to lawmakers when they join firms is their cache. “Name and letterhead are what help sell new clients.”
The lobbyist stated that members might also have connections with companies who have a presence within their state or district — which could lead to potential clients.