Is your member of Congress serving you, or serving himself? Many lawmakers, when they approach retirement, begin negotiating with lobbying firms to receive multimillion dollar salaries after they leave office. In some cases, a Senator or Representative will slip language into a bill or write an earmark that benefits a special interest, and when they leave Congress, a big paycheck is waiting for them from the very same company.
While the process of public officials going to work for lobbying firms is often called the “revolving door,” we think this issue deserves more emphasis and urgency. With members of Congress secretly manipulating the laws we must all live under, and then receiving lavish rewards, so they can live lavish lifestyles, we call that Backdoor Bribery.
The Republic Report published a report detailing the problem, and revealed that the lawmakers-turned-lobbyists we profiled received up to a 1,452 percent raise on average. Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA), for instance, made $158,100 as a lawmaker his last year in office. He went on to make nearly $20 million the next few years as a drug company lobbyist — after he wrote the law in Congress that prevents Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices for seniors (a rule that costs taxpayers billions).
And Backdoor Bribery occurs on both sides of the aisle. It was reported earlier this year that Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA) earmarked hundreds of thousands of dollars in special projects before retiring, then began a lobbying job that counts his earmark recipients as clients.
Members of Congress owe their loyalty to the people they represent, not to big companies offering them future riches. We need to stand up against this abuse of our democracy.
Today, the editors of Republic Report are sending a letter to the 34 members of Congress who have already announced they are retiring this year, asking them to at a minimum disclose to the public if they are currently negotiating with a private interest for a future job. They should make such discussions available on their congressional website, if they are still writing the laws we live under.