At least 130 current congressional chiefs of staff and legislative directors are former lobbyists, new research by the Center for Responsive Politics and Remapping Debate indicates.
And some of these powerful staffers — both Democrats and Republicans — have worked multiple lobbying jobs prior to working in their current congressional capacities, the project finds.
The majority of chiefs of staff and legislative directors represented corporations, trade organizations, or worked for lobbying firms that represented corporations, but a wide range of entities were represented: from the National Right to Work Committee to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; from King & Spalding to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group; and from the American Insurance Association to Human Rights Campaign.
"The bottom line is that many of the most powerful congressional staffers, who are now responsible for working on behalf of the public's interest, used to make a living convincing the government to benefit a client's special interest," said Sheila Krumholz, the Center's executive director. "Such relationships could present conflicts of interest and deserve continued scrutiny."
Said Craig Gurian, editor of Remapping Debate: "People have begun to appreciate that the flow of public officials and staffers to lobbying entities — particularly to those who serve interests regulated by Congress — has a significant and corrosive influence on the shape of public policy. The new tool that we have developed with the Center for Responsive Politics makes clear that those risks can be present when the revolving door brings former lobbyists — especially those serving a narrow private interest rather than a broad public interest — into government."
The public is already able to explore where outgoing senators and representatives from the 111th Congress are now employed thanks to a tracking tools deployed this January and available both from Remapping Debate and from the Center for Responsive Politics. Since then, the Center and Remapping the Debate the organizations have regularly bolstered the tracking tool.
Help the Center and Remapping Debate continue to expand the tracking tool by adding your own insight to the comings and goings of former members of Congress.
Remapping Debate, an online public policy news journal, believes that there is a fundamental (and democracy-corroding) paradox about the media ecosystem that needs to be addressed: for all the outlets and for all the bytes, the “why” and “why not” questions of public policy are too rarely addressed. Remapping Debate seeks to address this deficiency through probing reporting that asks these questions and thereby encourages more robust public policy debate.
The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking and reporting on money in U.S. federal politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Center aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more transparent and responsive government. The Center's award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org, is the most comprehensive resource for campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere. The Center relies on support from a combination of foundation grants, individual contributions and custom data work. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses, labor unions or trade associations.