Search This Blog

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lobbying Goes On, As Before

Previous posts have explained that there are pretty big loopholes in laws and rules banning lobbying by recent government employeesThe Hill reports:
With President Obama's reelection a done deal, headhunters are expecting worn-out administration aides to look for new jobs in the influence industry.

Several Obama aides started making post-election plans well before November, holding discussions with executive search firms in Washington as early as this past spring. Their stock has risen since Obama’s victory, but they face a tough job market on K Street, where belt-tightening has become the norm.
Several headhunters for law and lobby firms said one thing that won’t work against the job seekers is Obama’s executive order on ethics, which bans former officials from lobbying the administration while he is in office.
“That hasn't come up once,” Eric Vautour of Russell Reynolds Associates said of the ethics order. “They can still direct those activities. If you're asking someone to go run a whole department, they can go ask someone to make a call. It's not that big a deal. Clients recognize that as well.”
Around this time last year, a post described a special interest Hawaii junket for California lawmakers.  They're at it again. The Los Angeles Times reports:
 The day after being elected to the state Assembly, several incoming lawmakers were in AT&T's luxury suite at the Sacramento sports arena, watching the Kings with the company's top Capitol executive.
The next day, the California Dental Assn. feted the state's freshman legislators. That was before more than 20 legislators jetted off to Hawaii, China, Brazil, New Zealand and other locales — with some trips paid for in large part by healthcare, energy and communications companies.
...Following the example of veteran legislative leaders, including Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), more than a dozen Democratic freshmen headed off to AT&T's suite at the Sleep Train Arena.
Lawmakers are not allowed to take more than $420 in gifts per year, and they are supposed to report what they receive. But sidestepping the rules is hardly a challenge.The freshmen who joined Pérez didn't have to report the value of their tickets because the gathering was hosted by the state Democratic Party....Other freshman Democrats in the suite included Ken Cooley of Rancho Cordova, Marc Levine of San Rafael, Phil Ting of San Francisco, Kevin Mullin of South San Francisco, Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, Bill Quirk of Hayward and Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles.
Jones-Sawyer was one of 15 legislators who flew a few days later to Maui for a five-day conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani organized by the California Independent Voter Project.The group, which paid some of the legislators' travel expenses, has been funded over the years by tobacco giant Altria Group Inc., Southern California Edison, Eli Lilly & Co., Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the California Beer & Beverage Distributors, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Assn., Chevron Corp. and the state prison guards union. 
In between rounds of golf and poolside lounging, the sponsors talked with lawmakers.
"I was learning about the issues," said Jones-Sawyer, the only freshman on the trip. "There were some things I didn't know — such as how businesses really need help to flourish here in California."