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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Former Lawmakers and Lobbying

The New York Times reports:
Earl Pomeroy figured that Plan A was his career in Congress, where, over nearly two decades, as a North Dakota congressman he became a powerful advocate for the hospital industry.

Now, after losing re-election last year despite hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from grateful hospital executives, doctors and other industry officials, he has moved on to Plan B: promoting their cause as a lobbyist.

While that kind of shift is familiar in Washington, in Mr. Pomeroy’s case there is a special twist. House members are banned from lobbying on Capitol Hill for a year after leaving office (Mr. Pomeroy’s term ended in January), but Mr. Pomeroy, a Democrat, has teamed up with his former chief of staff, who is not subject to the restriction, as a lobbying partner.


His role as an industry champion shows the enduring power of being a well-placed friend in the capital. At least 160 former lawmakers currently work as lobbyists in Washington, according to First Street, a Web site that tracks lobbying trends in Washington, with many more exerting influence as consultants or advisers.

Typically, retired lawmakers sit on the sidelines for a year before signing on corporate lobbying clients, but Mr. Pomeroy’s leap was unusually swift. Of the 30 or so members who left Congress along with him and joined law firms, consulting firms, businesses or trade associations that lobby Congress, only five had formally registered as lobbyists as of mid-July, according to a New York Times review of lobbying records. That short list includes Mr. Pomeroy, and the former representatives Steve Buyer, Republican of Indiana, and Walt Minnick, Democrat of Idaho, each of whom has moved to a lobbying practice in unison with his former chief of staff.
Senate ethics rules, which are tougher than those in the House, would effectively block such arrangements. The Senate bars top staff members from lobbying Senate lawmakers or staff for a year, and extends the ban to two years for former senators.
In his unsuccessful reelection campaign, Pomeroy attacked his opponent for ties to special interests. From an AP report on March 27, 2010:
At every turn, my opponent has shown he'll stand with the big, powerful special interests, instead of the interests of the people of North Dakota," Pomeroy said of Berg, a former House Republican majority leader who has served in the House for 26 years.