Republic Report investigates political corruption of all types, and we’ve become increasingly concerned about retiring lawmakers. A study we produced earlier this month found that, out of the members of Congress who have become lobbyists and disclosed their salary, lawmakers moving through the revolving door can expect a 1,400% raise on average. The multimillion-dollar salaries are made possible in part by corrupt laws — pork barrel spending, lucrative government contracts — supported by members before they leave office. The evidence suggests retiring lawmakers begin selling public policy in exchange for K Street paydays. “Being a Congressman is like being an intern for lobbying,” noted one astute commenter.

In response to this phenomenon, which we are calling “Backdoor Bribery,” Republic Report sent a letter to all 36 retiring members of Congress asking simply that they disclose any job negotiations on the front page of their congressional website.

We can report two new responses:

Senator Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) press secretary told us: “In response to the request of publishing the Senator’s future plan on our website; we have no plans to do so at the moment, as the Senator is not yet in negotiations for his next career move. He has however, stated publicly on numerous occasions that he will not enter into the lobbying industry.”

Congressman Jerry Lewis’ (R-CA) spokesperson responded with a defiant tone: “At this point he’s really not discussing that…. He is not publicly discussing that.” Notably, Lewis’s aides have publicly advertised that their boss is seeking a job on K Street. Lewis remains a powerful player on the House Appropriations Committee, a seat that gives him wide leverage to distribute pork to special interests.

For a full listing of the retiring members of Congress and their responses to our campaign, click here.

Filed under: Reforming the System

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