Elected Officials Get An Average 1,452% Salary Increase When They Take A Lobbying Job

from the which-they-probably-negotiated-long-before-leaving-office dept

A few months ago, in writing about a fascinating interview between Jack Abramoff and Larry Lessig, we talked about Abramoff’s admission that the best way to “buy” a Congressional staffer was to merely let them know that they had a lobbying job waiting for them “whenever they wanted it.” He noted that, after that, those staffers basically worked for Abramoff more than working for their own elected official. He did also note that it was often much more effective to do this with staffers rather than the elected officials themselves, but clearly it happens all the time with elected officials too.

Republic Report has looked up the details on some former elected officials who became lobbyists and noted that, on average, they got a boost in salaries of 1,452%. Also of note: they can negotiate these deals while still in office and don’t have to tell anyone about them or even reveal what their salaries are. That can lead to clear conflicts of interest that are mostly ignored by the public and the press:

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?

There’s definitely a lot of fluctuation in how much these former Congressional Reps and Senators make as lobbyists, but it’s clearly a lot more than they were making previously. Here are just a few examples (the article has many more), including our old buddy Chris Dodd:

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 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%.

And people wonder why the American public feels that Congress is impossibly corrupt.

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Comments on “Elected Officials Get An Average 1,452% Salary Increase When They Take A Lobbying Job”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Lobbyists Are Scum

I for one have had it with these scumbags.A good reason for the screwed up Washington Politics is tied to lobbyists.
They are Anti-Consumer so they are Anti-American unless you happen to own a Corporation or are in the top level of a Corporation.
They are Anti-Public because these asses will sell out our Nation to line their pockets with more cash.
They have corrupted many in Washington.
I have a big hate for money based lobbying.

The Logician says:

Re: Re:

Your assumption about infringment, AC 2, is incorrect. It is not the same as stealing, as the US Supreme Court has made quite clear. For something to be stolen, by definition, something tangible must be lost or diminished. With copyright infringement, this does not occur. What does happen is merely the creation or use of copies of a work, which are effectively infinite in supply due to the nature of digital files. And as there is no structural or physical difference between an infringing file and a legal one, infringement itself is an extraneous concept.

Anonymous Coward says:

What about the lobbyist for the Green movement? How many of them were former congressmen who are now evil lobbyist? What about the lobbyists for the tech industry, how many of them were former congressional members? Pretty much every lobbyist group seeks out former members of congress because those are the poeple who know how the system works.

Someantimalwareguy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nowhere in the article did it say this was one sided; just that it appears from the empirical evidence that there is something basically corrupt with the entire lobbying structure and that your elected representatives (and their staffers) have improper incentives to push certain things that go against the needs of their constituents.

Trying to use a “well he did it, so I should be able to do it too!” argument falls flat in this forum – please try again…


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, I was trying to point out the bias of this post. It seems that TechDirt will do anything to paint the MPAA, the RIAA, ASCAP, the USPO, etc.. in a bad light. My point is clearly that the lobbying groups want former congressional members because these are the people who have the contacts, know the laws, and know who the power players are. If you want to be a looney Masnick follower and believe all the biased minsinformation that comes from this site go ahead.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If what you say is true, then any old Congressman will do. However, it is pretty clear that lobbyists only want Congressmen who have proposed, supported and passed legislation that benefitted their respective industries. That is where the corruption comes in.

As for your claims of bias in the selection of former congressmen listed, of course there is some. These are the organizations Mike writes about on a regular basis and are relevant to the discussions we have here. Had the linked article listed lobbyists for the green movement or for tech firms, perhaps Mike would have listed the tech ones. The green movement has less relevance here and would have been less likely to have been listed. Just as the one that were unaffiliated lobbyists and the one for the Electric Cooperative.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“My point is clearly that the lobbying groups want former congressional members because these are the people who have the contacts, know the laws, and know who the power players are.”

Yes, they want congressional members for two reasons, both of which are reasons we should ban the revolving door.

A: They want congressional members to pass laws for them in return for hiring them to work for them.

B: They want congressional members to later work for them because congressional members know the system best and so they can better game the system.

Both are reasons to ban the revolving door. If being a former lawmaker gives one contacts and knowledge that is advantageous to getting desired laws passed then it provides them with an unfair advantage that ordinary members of society do not have and it should be against the law for them to abuse this advantage to help a private organization pass laws in their favor.

The government, and its laws, should serve the public interest, and if someone wants to run for office to serve the public interest they should not later be allowed to use their time in office, and the advantages they get from this time in office, to serve a private interest to get laws passed at the payment of private interests.

If someone running for office is unwilling to forgo using their time and experience in office to later serve a private interest with laws then they shouldn’t run for office to begin with. You run for office to serve a public interest, not to later use your experience in office to serve a private interest. There should be much stricter laws against politicians who become lobbyists after running for office and if they don’t like it then they should find another career.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

My actions? I’m a software engineer at a business software company. I’m not the one with the agenda, that would be the people posting stories to TechDirt. I am just a consumer of media – music, movies, books, etc… I don’t want there to be nothing but cheap YouTube videos, garage band singles and web “authors”. I want choices, I want professionally produced content instead of amature slop. I realize I must be in the minority on this site, it seems most people here would rather watch crapy anime-inspired garbage than big production adventure/sci-fi.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I want choices, I want professionally produced content instead of amature slop.”

Then fund it yourself. You and people who agree with you can fund it. No one is stopping you.

But just because you want something doesn’t mean you should force everyone else to subsidize it for you by inconveniencing everyone else with laws that no one else wants. The rest of the world shouldn’t have to cater to your personal desires just because you want something you are unwilling to put the effort into creating and funding yourself.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I realize I must be in the minority on this site, it seems most people here would rather watch crapy anime-inspired garbage than big production adventure/sci-fi.

Then you must not read or understand very much of what’s written here.

Personally, I, too, want excellent content. But I’m not willing to sacrifice the rights of myself or my neighbors to get it.

One of the themes of this site is that such sacrifice is not necessary. The *AAs disagree, and seem to think that only through a general restriction in freedom can high-end content be made.

Suja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I want professionally produced content instead of amature slop.

um, sorry to brake it to you but 90% of the “professionally produced content” is slop.

there, i said it, it’s slop, high-budget bullshit better suited for someone’s youtube poop than a blockbuster

and the sad part is that the “amatuer” youtube poops are often funnier than the “professional” comedy

it seems most people here would rather watch crapy anime-inspired garbage than big production adventure/sci-fi./blockquote>
you don’t know me, turn around right and walk away… spare yourself the heartache

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually, I was trying to point out the bias of this post.

“I was trying to manufacture a non-existant bias in this post so I can rant about Masnick again”

There FTFY

If you’d actually bothered to read the article:

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.

Sounds like an example of someone linked to a tech industry to me.

For those without a one track brain the article was about how it might it doesn’t look terribly good for ANY people who write laws go get buckets of cash from the people the laws are supposed to affect straight after.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So two wrongs make a right.

and this doesn’t excuse (former) congressmen who become lobbyists for the interests of private corporations because they can do a better job at ensuring that these private corporations get what they want, even if against the public interest, than other lobbyists.

We elect them to serve the public interest, if they are willing to use their knowledge of how the system works to help corporations get their private interests served, potentially against the public interest, after their time in office, that brings into question their integrity (to serve the public interest) during the time they were in office. If they’re willing to flip flop from the ‘public interest’ to a ‘private interest’ so quickly then maybe they never intended to serve the public interest.

Their knowledge shouldn’t be used to serve a private interest, if they are going to use it they should use it to serve the public interest. Because they know how the system works, they can better game the system, is no excuse for us to allow this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The reason why the revolving door should be banned is because it may create the incentive for politicians to pass laws based on which companies will be most willing to hire them after they leave office.

The counter argument that IP extremists keep on giving for allowing this practice to continue is

“But these politicians know the system best, therefore they can better game the system and so we should allow the revolving door to continue”.

That’s an outrageous counter argument which shows the extent of how bad the logic is that IP extremists use.

Their counter argument does not negate the initial argument against allowing the revolving door to continue, and, if anything, it adds more reason to place stricter bans against the revolving door with steeper penalties.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, actually, $150,000 is very underpaid. It is about the same as a lawyer with a few years experience might get, working for a private firm. That doesn’t consider a partner or anything like that. It’s not an outrageous salary, especially for people who often come to public service with 20-30 years or work experience, degrees, and the like.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I would rather elect an official with business experience than some socialist from academia. Being a congressional member is a very time consuming job, you don’t see many of them moonlighting. These people have to support their families, I don’t think $150,000 is much for someone with decades of experience. Sure it’s more than the average salary but I make more than the average salary and I have less experience and way less responsibility than these guys do. Lets compare that to someone like Mark Zuckerberg – look at his payoff for his “contribution” to society. His creation reduces productivity, and has lead to infidelity, divorces, murder, accidental deaths from people trying to emulate others, etc… And what does he get for lowering our standard of living? Billions!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I would rather elect an official with business experience than some socialist from academia. “

Yet we elected Obama and he’s been pushing for more IP laws.

and what a congressman makes after leaving office says nothing about what they made during and before entering office or about their experience during or before office.

No one is saying that we want politicians without business experience, what you built here is a strawman, it’s perfectly possible for someone to enter office with business experience and to leave office without increasing their pay as a result of working for a lobbying firm either thanks to passing laws in favor of some corporation while in office or because of their contacts and experience that they gained while in office. The fact that they leave office and can’t work for a lobbying firm doesn’t suddenly mean their past business experience gets erased or that they can’t put their past business experience on future resumes and continue back making more money than what they made while in office. But that is quite different than using the advantage that they gained from being in office to make more money in the future as a result of laws that they passed in office or as a result of their influence on the legislative process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Life is not fair, there are a lot of parasites that make millions just by telling stories to others and forcing them to comply with bought laws.

There are parasites that lock up very important medicine and medical equipment just because they can and they didn’t advance the state of the art either others did and they bought it after all was said and done. Actually this is the part that will destroy America the ability of incompetent people to buy useful things and be granted a monopoly, at some point all things will be owned by others and not Americans and they will be the ones being forced to abide by those same rules the idiots put in place decades earlier.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yeah, but Zuckerberg doesn’t get paid by people’s taxes.

Congress does.

Oh yeah, don’t forget that once you’re in Congress, you’ve got the most LUCRATIVE medical benefits EVER.

I’m sorry, I’d rather elect some “socialist” who wants to benefit the majority of the people (Look up the State Bank of North Dakota, created by someone of the socialist party back in 1919) than a businessman/woman who only thinks for themselves.

Tim K (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Are you seriously comparing Zuckerberg to an elected official? That makes absolutely no sense. Congress has created terrible laws that lock up content that should be freely accessible, pander to the wants of people who are willing to pay, help bring us closer to a police state, allow drug patents which lead to deaths because people cannot afford the drugs and rarely do what is in the interest of the public. And what do they get for doing that while (as silvercat noted) being paid by us? Million dollar job offers for helping out the corporations against public interest. I can use your ‘logic’ all over the place. Car companies make cars, and millions die every day from cars, yet they are making Billions! The mobile carriers offer texting, and millions die because of distracted drivers texting, and yet they make millions. Google/apple made smart phones that allow even more distractions while driving, yet they are making billions, etc, etc. Please come up with an argument that even has a tiny shred of relevance next time.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

A lawyer has to go through law school, an internship and other stuff before they can become a lawyer.

All a politician has to do is get elected. 150 K for a year for 2 years (House) or 6 years (Senate) is pretty lucrative…

Especially since all you have to do is sit there and do nothing.

Don’t look at me like that. Until the Contraception thing, and previously the SOPA/PIPA stuff, the Congress sure wasn’t doing much. Before you say they were in recess, you have to remember the big issue that the Republicans had with Obama’s recess appointment since the Congress was technically in session (30 second sessions, enough to say “we’re here”, but nothing else)

150 K for a year when they work less than 1/2 of it…

Try to tell me that’s underpaid… Please try.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, all that’s been proven is that large companies have gotten too large, to the point where they have enough money to make it look like government officials are significantly underpaid.

But, I guess it’s too much to ask to realize that a system that’s pushing more and more towards a small controlling class, a non-existent middle class, and a GIGANTIC lower class is a bad thing.

Thomas (profile) says:


IS corrupt. Very corrupt. The “lobbying jobs” are sort of after the fact bribes. People buy Congressmen during the campaigns, they rightly expect the votes while in office. We have a “democracy” where public office can be bought by anyone with enough money. Worse yet, people don’t give a rats tushie about whether or not their Congressman is on the take or not.

The ex-congressmen often get cushy jobs that don’t require them to do anything. This means it’s payback for favorable votes while they were in office.

There is no place in the federal government where corruption is not present. The spooks can be bribed, SCOTUS can be bribed, POTUS can be bribed, Congress can be bribed. It’s the nature of the dirty politics that rule in Washington.

sgt_doom (profile) says:

Re: Congress...

Indeed, and sadly but pragmatically, all the protesting in the world simply gets the crap beaten out of a person by corrupt cops with extravagant 6-figure salaries and IQs of a small rodent.

In 1910, the McNamara brothers bombed the LA Times, and there was a direct response — the establishment of the Walsh Commission (later circumvented with WWI and the bad guys) which subpoenaed John D. Rockefeller, whom the excoriated for three straight days, publicizing their Ludlow Massacre (the origin of the drive-by shootings).

And in 1920, a bomb was set off at JP Morgan.

These actions get attention and begin to accomplish things…..

But until some of those thoroughly corruptSupreme Court justices are dragged out and hung from the lamppost, and ditto the US Congress, nothing will be accomplished.

staff (profile) says:

Inventors agree

You’ve hit paydirt, Mike. Like we said, Congress was either bought or duped in passing bills like the patent bill.

?America Invents Act?

?This is not a patent reform bill? Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) complained, despite other democrats praising the overhaul. ?This is a big corporation patent giveaway that tramples on the right of small inventors.?

Senator Cantwell is right. Just because they call it ?reform? doesn?t mean it is. The agents of banks, huge multinationals, and China are at it again trying to brain wash and bankrupt America.

They should have called the bill the America STOPS Inventing Act or ASIA, because that?s where it is sending all our jobs.

The patent bill is nothing less than another monumental federal giveaway for banks, huge multinationals, and China and an off shoring job killing nightmare for America. Even the leading patent expert in China has stated the bill will help them steal our inventions. Who are the supporters of this bill working for??

Patent reform is a fraud on America. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations and maintain their monopolies by robbing and destroying their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. The bill will make it harder and more expensive for small firms to get and enforce their patents. Without patents we cant get funded. In this way large firms are able to play king of the hill and keep their small competitors from reaching the top as they have. Yet small entities create the lion’s share of new jobs. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, ?startups aren?t everything when it comes to job growth. They?re the only thing.? This bill is a wholesale destroyer of US jobs. Those wishing to help fight this bill should contact us as below.

Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors. Congress tinkering with patent law while gagging inventors is like a surgeon operating before examining the patient.

Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

Toot Rue (profile) says:

Remove the incentive

If you want to get corporations out of government, you need to get government out of corporations.

The payoff for a good regulation is enormous – it can stifle your competitors and grant you a monopoly… It can even create an entire industry.

There is no way on this earth that someone is going to not go after a prize like that. Reduce the regulatory power of the government, and you reduce the incentive of corporations to meddle in politics.

Filthy Horse says:

Largent took a pay cut

When Steve Largent retired from football in 1989 holding virtually every major receiving record in NFL history, he was no doubt on the higher end of the NFL pay scale, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess he took a wee bit of a paycut to work for congress at $150k. No doubt his salary is less now at CTIA than it was while playing football, too. How this makes him “impossibly corrupt”, as this article suggests, is beyond me.

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