Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Revolving Door of Lobbyists and Staffers

LegiStorm reports:
Former lobbyists currently working on the congressional payroll helping to craft legislation significantly outnumber members of Congress, according to an exhaustive new analysis by the non-partisan group LegiStorm.

In all, 605 current congressional staff - out of about 14,000 total member, committee and leadership staff - have lobbied in the past decade. They are among the nearly 5,400 current and former congressional staffers that LegiStorm has discovered have gone through the lobbying "revolving door" in the past decade alone. The numbers in the new analysis are far greater than any previous analysis has been able to demonstrate.

"For every person the American people have elected to sponsor legislation of public benefit, special interests have more than one former legislative advocate now working on the inside in Congress," said Jock Friedly, founder and president of LegiStorm. "That represents a large network of people to influence decisions and to provide valuable intelligence."

This conclusion and others come after a comprehensive analysis of hundreds of thousands of records and research into more than 130,000 people who have worked as lobbyists or congressional aides since 2000. The analysis was backed by two years of research into the biographies of tens of thousands of individuals. Daily updates of this revolving door database, as well as biographical information about current and former congressional staffers and much more, are available to subscribers of a new service LegiStorm launched today.

In The Washington Post, T.W. Farnam adds some detail, quoting a lobbyist whose family is the subject of a biographical essay in our chapter:

Of the 5,400 lobbyists with recent Hill experience, the study found that 2,900 were registered to lobby on behalf of clients this year. Twenty-five powerhouse firms and organizations employ 10 or more former Hill workers. The largest number are at the Podesta Group, followed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which employs at least 21.

“People who are experienced in Washington tend to be better at doing this kind of work than people who have never worked in the government before,” said Tony Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying firms.