Recent ex-members of Congress head to K Street as ‘shadow lobbying’ escalates

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Former Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) set up her own government relations firm in November 2018, before exiting Congress, sparking fury from ethics watchdogs. She joins a number of former members of the 115th Congress that have moved into lobbying but haven’t registered as lobbyists yet. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Click here for a comprehensive list of where the former members of the 115th are employed.

What do members do after they leave Congress? Here’s a hint: Many take a swing through the revolving door.

Nearly two dozen former members of the 115th Congress have already found jobs at lobbying firms, according to no deposit bonus forex’ Revolving Door database.

Lobbying is a natural next step for recently-departed members who spent years cultivating relationships with their colleagues and interest groups.

Of the 22 members-turned-policy advisors, only two — former Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) of Akin Gump — registered to lobby as of May 30. While former members of Congress must wait two years before lobbying their respective chamber’s ex-colleagues, they often engage in so-called shadow lobbying, participating in activities that might be considered lobbying but declining to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA).

“LDA is nothing more than an honor system,” Paul Miller, president of the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics (NILE) told no deposit bonus forex. “You see a lot of members say that they don’t need to register, that they’re just advising or educating lawmakers. But they’re doing everything we do, and getting paid a lot of money to do it, yet they’re not registering.”

There have only been nine enforcement actions under LDA — all settlements — since the law passed in 1995, giving lobbyists little incentive to register or remain registered.

Only 10,331 lobbyists registered under LDA to start this year, slightly down from 10,370 in the first quarter of 2018. Lobbying registrations have experienced a continual decline since the 2007 peak, coinciding with the Obama administration’s failed promise to shut the revolving door and the Trump administration’s failed promise to “drain the swamp.”

Declining to register, or even deregistering entirely, allows lobbyists to operate in the shadows without publicly disclosing their clients. That’s especially valuable for corporations and interest groups that don’t want their attempts to influence government officials and legislators publicized. Miller said he has heard from lobbyists who terminated their registration under LDA, and found success in doing so.

“I was told business has been booming,” Miller said.

Longtime Congress members often don’t have much trouble finding new jobs on K Street after retiring — or being ousted — from public service. Ten Republican members of the 115th Congress found lobbying gigs soon after retiring — or in some cases, before they had officially left office.

Former Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) set up her own lobbying firm in November 2018, before exiting Congress, sparking fury from ethics watchdogs. She hired her former chief of staff, Pat Leopold, to her firm, which hasn’t yet registered under LDA.

Also forming his own lobbying firm was former Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.). Like Jenkins, LoBiondo gave his chief of staff Jason Galanes a job at his new company, which has not yet registered under LDA.

A constant critic of Trump, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) was one of many Republicans to join lobbying firms after leaving the House ahead of a Democratic takeover. The former House Appropriations Committee subcommittee chair and House Ethics Committee chair resigned in April 2018 and wasted little time joining law firm DLA Piper as a senior policy advisor.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) took a lobbying job at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, joining his grandfather Art Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Just four days after they left Congress, Smith and Ros-Lehtinen announced they would lobby for Akin Gump, whose employees contributed heavily to their respective campaigns. They joined Vic Fazio and Tom Loeffler as former members employed at the firm. Ros-Lehtinen and Fazio recently testified before the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, giving their thoughts on how the legislative branch could run more smoothly.

Former Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) also joined Akin Gump. The one-term senator has been active following his November loss, launching a new “dark money” political nonprofit with former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) meant to bring rural voters back to the Democratic party by adopting “pragmatic” policy and pushing back against progressive policies such as Medicare for All.

As a past chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) didn’t have any trouble finding lobbying work. He signed on with Washington stalwart Brownstein, Hyatt, which has several contracts with foreign governments and pulled in at least $1.8 million from Saudi Arabia in 2018.

In 2017, Royce gave a speech to his House colleagues urging them to continue supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. He echoed talking points — at times word-for-word — given to him by foreign agents lobbying on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

Former Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) joined lobbying powerhouse Squire Patton Boggs in February. A rising star in Democratic leadership before losing a primary to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last year, Crowley was sought after by several firms, according to Politico.

Former Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) joined Apex Benefits to lead the Indianapolis benefits provider’s government relations team. Apex Benefits CEO John Gause helped fund Rokita’s 2010 campaign and contributed to Rokita in each consecutive cycle through 2018.

Perpetual revolver Jon Kyl, a former Arizona Republican Senator turned lobbyist who was appointed to fill part of the late Sen. John McCain’s term in 2018 swiftly returned to his lobbying firm Covington and Burlington after resigning in December 2018. He was not yet registered as a lobbyist this year, and will likely provide “insights” and “advice” as he did after leaving the Senate the first time in 2013.

Individuals are supposed to register under LDA if they are paid to lobby on behalf of a specific client, if they make than one contact with government officials regarding the client’s issues and if they spend at least 20 percent of their time on lobbying activities.

Those rules have proven to be difficult to enforce. It took a decade of “policy advising,” including shaping the Trans-Pacific Partnership, before former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) finally registered as a lobbyist in 2016.

NILE’s Miller has proposed changes to LDA, removing the 20 percent requirement and instead measuring how many hours an individual spends on an issue and how much money they make within a three-month period.

In speaking with members of Republican leadership during the 115th Congress, Miller said they were concerned that promoting reforms to LDA would also create a louder clamor for comprehensive campaign finance reform.

The Democrats’ HR 1 did not change LDA’s definition of lobbying, instead imposing further limits on former members’ ability to lobby their former colleagues. The measure passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

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