Thursday, August 20, 2015

This is what government corruption looks like...

Via a Credo petition (August 20, 2015) When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew left Citigroup for the Obama administration in 2009, his contract with the megabank guaranteed him a $1 million bonus for taking any “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.”

The Nation (May,4 2013) The Reverse Revolving Door: How Corporate Insiders Are Rewarded Upon Leaving Firms for Congress. Disclosures reveal that corporations and lobbying firms award six-figure bonuses to staff who leave to take powerful positions on Capitol Hill.

Senator Elizabeth Warren calls this “paying people off to remember their Wall Street friends while they run our government” — and she’s right. First Look (July 17, 2015) Elizabeth Warren Pushes To Slow Revolving Door Between Business and Government.

Corporate insiders regularly get big bonuses to take government jobs. And the problem goes even deeper. The Treasury Department and regulators like the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission routinely hire former Wall Street bankers, and staffers at these agencies leave their posts for cushy Wall Street gigs. For Effective Government (July 24, 2015) Throwing a Wrench in the Revolving Door

A Credo petition was launched to keep President Obama from nominating banker Antonio Weiss to an official position with the Treasury Department when the public learned that Weiss was due to receive $21 million in handouts for taking a government job. CNN (December 2, 2014) Want $20 million to work for the government? Just quit a Wall Street job first.

Majorities of Americans in both major political parties support cracking-down on the revolving door between Wall Street and government. The revolving door between government and Wall Street helps the wealthiest few hijack our democracy for their own gain. That is why progressive champions Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Tammy Baldwin have introduced a tough new bill to crack down on the revolving door – and Sen. Warren is calling for all of us to get behind it.

Via Senator Baldwin's website (July 15, 2015) Baldwin and Cummings Introduce Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act. Baldwin and Cummings joined by AFL-CIO and Public Citizen at press conference unveiling bill to slow revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. The Baldwin-Cummings bill will strike a blow against the revolving door by:

  • Banning golden parachutes for taking government jobs. New government employees should not be allowed to take bonuses from their former companies when they are supposed to be serving the public.
  • Limiting conflicts of interest. Bank and corporate regulators need to recuse themselves from any official work that would benefit their former employees.
  • Toughening up lobbying rules and increasing “cooling off” times. More federal employees should be barred from lobbying their former colleagues and all of them must wait two years, not one, before they do so.

As Senator Elizabeth Warren put it, “Laws matter. But it also matters who interprets those laws, who enforces those laws.” New Republic (July 17, 2015) Elizabeth Warren Challenges Hillary Clinton to Stop the Revolving Door

The head of the Treasury Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are both former Citigroup employees. The Hill (July 15, 2015) Reforming the financial services revolving door

Securities and Exchange Chair Mary Jo White’s new chief of staff is a former Goldman lawyer. Bloomberg (May 28, 2015) Goldman’s Donohue to Become SEC Chair White’s Chief of Staff

Attorney General Eric Holder just recently returned to his old corporate law firm under a cloud of questions about the firm holding an office for him before he left the government. Salon (July 7, 2015) Why Eric Holder’s new job is an insult to the American public. The former Attorney General who made "too big to jail" a national joke now re-joins his old corporate law firm.

The list could go on and on...

All over the government, former Wall Street employees fill important positions, bringing with them a biased worldview and the ability for their former co-workers to influence them with a well-placed phone call. Countless more treat Wall Street with kid gloves to preserve the possibility of cashing in on a job in the future, or leave government and use their connections and expertise on behalf of their new employees.

Baldwin and Cummings' new bill — The Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act — won’t end the revolving door, but it will strike a potent blow against it — and rallying behind this legislation will send a powerful message to leaders in both parties. To help fight the Wall Street revolving door, you can sign Credo's petition.

Related Legislation

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Al Franken (D-MN) also introduced a bill (Close the Revolving Door Act of 2015) that would shut the revolving door of lobbyist influence in Washington by banning Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists.

A study by the Center for Responsive Politics found that about 45 percent of former members of the 113th Congress who are currently employed are employed at lobbying firms, and close to 12,000 registered federal lobbyists actively lobbied in Washington in 2014.

To solve for the problem of outsized lobbyist influence and to close the revolving door, Bennet and Franken have proposed aggressive lobbying reform, which would:

  • Place a lifetime ban on current members of Congress from becoming lobbyists;
  • Increase the statutory staff restrictions on lobbying from one year to six years;
  • Ban lobbyists from joining Congressional staffs or committee staffs that they lobbied for six years;
  • Create a more accessible website for public reporting of lobbying activities;
  • Require substantial lobbying entities to report on the non-lobbyist employees they have who are former members of Congress or former senior congressional staff, and describing those employees' job responsibilities; and
  • Increase the maximum penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

The bill improves disclosure requirements and promotes greater accountability. Through increased transparency, not just by federal lobbyists, but also by firms and companies that may have former members of Congress who are skirting the lobbyist line, the public will be better informed, and the lobbying profession will be deterred from acting below board. It also provides the public greater with better information and takes an important step towards cleaning up the culture in Washington.

Sign the petition: Tell Congress to pass the Close the Revolving Door Act to ban Senators and Representatives from ever becoming lobbyists.


  1. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    427 former members of Congress have become lobbyists.

  2. UPDATE:

    Eight groups hoping to press Hillary Rodham Clinton to address Wall Street excesses released a letter on Wednesday urging her to focus on the issue of “golden parachute” compensation packages for Wall Street executives who go on to take government jobs.

  3. Concerned about Elizabeth Warren and the progressive base as Joe Biden flirts with a run, Hillary continued her leftward shift by endorsing an anti-Wall Street bill. She backed a proposed change to federal law championed by liberal groups that is intended to slow or stop a revolving door between the financial sector and public service, making the announcement in an op-ed for the Huffington Post with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

    Baldwin proposed the legislation last month. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley quickly endorsed it. Elizabeth Warren basically called it a litmus test bill in her speech at Netroots last month. Clinton has held off on taking a position until now.

    Anne Gearen explains that “the bill would close what its supporters call a loophole, in which financial services executives can take accelerated payouts of restricted stock options and other forms of lump-sum payment if they leave those jobs” to work for the federal government.

  4. Donald Trump and the Art of the Public Sector Deal

  5. From the Daily Kos "Classics"

    Back in 2005, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had a net worth of somewhere between $1.6 million and $4.2 million — ranking him the 38th richest Senator.

    Five years later in 2010 McConnell had a net worth between $7.1 million and $32.7 million — and was then the 12th wealthiest Senator.

    Pretty good, for a guy who has evidently NEVER had a private sector job. So, at least for him, "government" can't be all bad.

    * I wonder what Senator Mitch McConnell worth today, especially since the stock market hit all those record highs in 2013 and 2014.