Revolving-door syndrome

A high proportion of lobbyists have  moved from roles as  politicians, or staff members — 64% of those members of the 112th Congress who failed to get re-elected in 2012 moved into the lobbying industry. This leads to the accusation that US politics is dominated by an insider elite, whose members are able to influence the political system through the 'revolving door', which gives them constant access to those in power.

Increasingly, former members of Congress are finding their way back into the corridors of power representing the very interest groups they once regulated. This post-congressional lobbying activity has proven to be very lucrative for many ex-lawmakers. As lobbyists, former members of Congress carry significant clout that gives them access not only to their former colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, but also to members of the executive branch. While generally the practice of walking through the "revolving door" has been discussed as unseemly, a bigger danger is that members of Congress might sponsor legislation that benefits their future employers. 

TThe evidence in this book suggests that lawmakers who become lobbyists not only behave differently in the legislative arena than those who do not become lobbyists, but also lobby on behalf of the very interests they once regulated in Congress.

The book begins with a discussion on the intentions of the framers of the Constitution to constrain ambition. It then proceeds to show who becomes a lobbyist and how post-congressional lobbyists exploit their relationships with their former colleagues as they lobby on behalf of special interests. The book concludes by suggesting that post-congressional lobbying not only has the potential to undermine sound public policy, it also has the potential to jeopardize the legitimacy of the institution 

This creates a relationship where politicians are unduly influenced, in creating public policy, by the lucrative prospect of a high-paid job for a lobbying firm when they leave politics. There are many examples of this overlap between those in politics and lobbying:

·    Peter Davidson, a former adviser to then-House Majority Leader Dick Amey, and Tom Tauke, a former Republican congressman, both now work for Verizon Communications. They were instrumental in securing clearance for a multi­billion-dollar deal with cable companies in 2012, following a Department of Justice

* investigation into the monopoly status this would create.

·   Senator Jim DeMint left his South Carolina Senate post in 2013 to take up a role as the president of the influential Heritage Foundation.

·    John Ashcroft, who served 6 years in the Senate and 4 years as the US Attorney General, set up the Ashcroft Group upon leaving office. In 2005, less than a month after collecting $220,000 from Oracle Corporation, John Ashcroft used his contacts to secure a multibillion-dollar acquisition contract for Oracle with the Department of Justice.

How to Buy Congress. Report on the Abramoff scandal