One of the ways that Big Money works to take control of the country’s political system is by enlisting former legislators to become lobbyists. These lobbyists, having passed through the “revolving door,” have wide access to their former colleagues in addition to the financial resources that lobbying firms command.
While there are some laws regulating how and when former Members of Congress can become lobbyists, some legislators — most famously, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) — have skirted these laws by engaging in influence peddling without officially registering as lobbyists. Former Members of Congress regularly exploit this Daschle Loophole.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who was elected to Congress in 2009, was troubled by his colleagues leaving office and then working on behalf of special interests. In an interview with Republic Report, his press secretary George Cecala explained that the congressman read Peter Schweitzer’s book Throw ‘Em All Out, which documents congressional insider trading and other similar shocking behavior by Members of Congress. He then asked all of his staff to read the book as well.
Last week, Posey introduced the “Stop the Revolving Door in Washington Act,” a new version of a bill he first introduced in 2009. The bill would ban all lobbying by former Members of Congress for five years and all lobbying by former congressional employees for two years. Perhaps most interestingly, Cecala explained to Republic Report that the bill would actually ban any contact between these former government employees and current employees of Congress that is intended to influence them on behalf of any person. This would effectively close the Daschle Loophole because it would not only ban these individuals from federally registered lobbying but even informal lobbying as well.
Posey’s bill is a bold step towards reducing the stranglehold of special interests on Congress. The congressman wanted to ensure that Members of Congress’s careers “will be about service, rather than service to influence peddling,” Cecala told us. The ultimate goal, said Cecala, is to “return us to a citizens’ legislature.”
Filed under: Reforming the System
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