Selling out pays. If you’re a corporation or lobbyist, what’s the best way to “buy” a member of Congress? Secretly promise them a million dollars or more in pay if they come to work for you after they leave office. Once a public official makes a deal to go to work for a lobbying firm or corporation after leaving office, he or she becomes loyal to the future employer. And since those deals are done in secret, legislators are largely free to pass laws, special tax cuts, or earmarks that benefit their future employer with little or no accountability to the public. While campaign contributions and super PACS are a big problem, the every day bribery of the revolving door may be the most pernicious form of corruption today. (See our post on Monday about current members of Congress already negotiating for jobs on K Street)
Unlike some other forms of money in politics, politicians never have to disclose job negotiations while in office, and never have to disclose how much they’re paid after leaving office. In many cases, these types of revolving door arrangements drastically shape the laws we all live under. For example, former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) spent his last year in office fighting reforms to bring greater transparency to the derivatives marketplace. Almost as soon as he left office, he joined the board of a derivatives trading company and became an “advisor” to Goldman Sachs. Risky derivative trading exacerbated the financial crisis of 2008, yet we’re stuck under the laws written in part by Gregg. How much has he made from the deal? Were his actions in office influenced by relationships with his future employers?
Republic Report combed through the few disclosures that are out there to find out how much lawmakers make when they sell out and lobby for interests they once oversaw as public officials. To be sure, this list only shows the tip of the iceberg (out of the 44 lawmakers who left office in 2010 for a lobbying-related career, only one is at an organization that discloses his salary).
Our research effort uncovered the partial salaries of twelve lawmakers-turned-lobbyists. Republic Report’s investigation found that lawmakers increased their salary by 1452% on average from the last year they were in office to the latest publicly available disclosure:
Former Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) made $19,359,927 as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies between 2006 and 2010. Tauzin retired from Congress in 2005, shortly after leading the passage of President Bush’s prescription drug expansion. He was recruited to lead PhRMA, a lobbying association for Pfizer, Bayer, and other top drug companies. During the health reform debate, the former congressman helped his association block a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate for drug prices, a major concession that extended the policies enacted in Tauzin’s original Medicare drug-purchasing scheme. Tauzin left PhRMA in late 2010. He was paid over $11 million in his last year at the trade group. Comparing Tauzin’s salary during his last year as congressman and his last year as head of PhRMA, his salary went up 7110%.
Former Congressman Cal Dooley (D-CA) has made at least $4,719,093 as a lobbyist for food manufacturers and the chemical industry from 2005 to 2009. Republic Report analyzed disclosures from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an industry lobby — for companies like Kellogg — where Dooley worked following his retirement from Congress. We also added in Dooley’s salary from the American Chemistry Council, where Dooley now works as the president. The Chemistry Council represents Dow Chemical, DuPont, and other chemical interests. Dooley’s salary jumped 1357% between his last year in the House and his last reported salary for the Chemistry Council in 2009.
Former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) makes approximately $1.5 million a year as the chief lobbyist for the movie industry. Dodd, who retired from the Senate after 2010, was hired by the Motion Picture Association of America, the lobbying association that represents major studios like Warner Bros. and Universal Studios. Although the MPAA would not confirm with Republic Report Dodd’s exact salary, media accounts point to $1.5 million, a slightly higher figure than the previous MPAA head, former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. Dodd received about a 762% raise after moving from public office to lobbying.
Former Congressman Steve Largent (R-OK) has made at least $8,815,741 over the years as a lobbyist for a coalition of cell phone companies and related wireless industry interests. Republic Report analyzed disclosures from CTIA-The Wireless Association, the trade group Largent leads. CTIA counts wireless companies like AT&T, HTC, and Motorola as members. Largent left Congress in 2002, when his pay was about $150,000 as a public official. His move to the CTIA trade association, where he earns slightly more than $1.5 million a year according to the latest disclosure form, raised his salary by 912%.
Former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) makes well over $2.1 million as an unregistered lobbyist in addition to earning several hundred thousand a year in speaking fees and consulting gigs. When Daschle lost his seat in the Senate, he went work for the lobbying/law firm Alston & Bird, while also providing advice to lobbying firms like the Glover Park Group, AHIP, the health insurance lobbying association, and several well-connected private equity and medical device companies. Although Daschle never registered to lobby, his sky-high income became public when President Obama unsuccessfully nominated the former Democratic majority leader to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle now works at DLA Piper, another major law/lobbying firm, where he likely makes far more than his Alston & Bird salary of $2.1 million given Daschle’s significant role in crafting President Obama’s health reform proposals. Not counting the speaking fees, Daschle achieved a 1228% salary increase by moving through the revolving door.
Former Congressman Richard Baker (R-LA) made $3,219,255 between 2008 and 2009 as head of a hedge fund lobbying association. Republic Report reviewed disclosures from the Managed Funds Association, a group that represents hedge funds including Caxton Associations, Magnetar Capital, and Third Point LLC. In Congress, as a member of the influential House Financial Services Committee, Baker oversaw efforts to relax regulations governing Wall Street. Baker’s salary went up 956% after he left office.
Former Congressman Jim Slattery (D-OK) makes around $585,000 a year as a lobbyist for Wiley Rein. Slattery left Congress in 1994 to run for higher office. He didn’t win. Instead, he went to work for the law/lobbying firm Wiley Rein. When Slattery again ran for statewide office in 2008 against Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), his mandatory financial disclosure revealed that he earned $585,000 in 2007, representing clients like Verizon Communications and Nucor Corp. Comparing his 1994 House salary with his 2007 income from Wiley Rein, Slattery’s pay jumped 337%.
Former Congressman James Greenwood (R-PA) made $6,679,935 between 2005 and 2010 as the head of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Greenwood took the job with BIO in 2004, and still leads the association, which lobbies on a wide variety of issues on behalf of industry, including genetically modified foods and biofuels. BIO members include Amgen, MedImmune, Novo Nordisk, Genentech, and Human Genone Sciences. Greenwood’s salary shot up 671% between his last year in office and his BIO salary in 2009.
Former Congressman Glenn English (D-OK) made $9,294,207 between 2004 and 2010 as the head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. English, who represents many coal-dependent electric cooperatives, played a significant role in weakening climate reform legislation in 2009. Although English became head of the NREOA after 1994, Republic Report only had access to disclosures for a six year period. Comparing his congressional salary in 1994 and his last reported lobbying salary in 2009, English’s pay went up 1504%.
Former Congressman Steve Bartlett (R-TX) has made at least $9,192,761 as the chief lobbyist for an association of investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase. Bartlett has worked as the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade association he joined in 1999. Republic Report could only obtain disclosures from recent years, providing us an incomplete picture of his salary. Bartlett’s salary at the Financial Services Roundtable is 1770% higher than his last year in Congress.
Former Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) makes around $247,523 a year as a registered lobbyist. Salmon, who retired from Congress in 2001, has represented corporate clients like General Motors and Grand Canyon University (a for-profit college) through a lobbying firm he founded, Upstream Consulting Inc. (Although his income boost was lower than most of his fellow Members-turned-lobbyists, Salmon does get props for the witty firm name.) Salmon announced his intention to run again for Congress, so Republic Report reviewed mandatory candidate disclosures filed by the candidate. The forms reveal that Salmon also receives consulting fees from Policy Impact Strategic Communicators, another lobbying company, as well as nearly $50,000 a year from a company called Solid Ground Solutions. At Policy Impact Strategic Communications, Salmon represented the Republic of Kazahkstan. Salmon enjoyed a 75% salary boost by moving from Congress to K Street.
Former Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) has made at least $1,650,005 as a media broadcasting industry lobbyist since 2009. Smith is president of the National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group for companies like News Corp and Time Warner. Republic Report has not reviewed NAB disclosures from 2011. Smith’s last reported broadcasting lobby salary is 742% higher than his Senate salary in 2008.