February 28, 2006

Private: The "Reverse-Revolving Door"

South Dakota Senator John Thune's activities on behalf of a railroad company based in his home state has drawn scrutiny. Thune earned $220,000 from the company in the years prior to his election to the Senate and has since added language to a transportation bill that allows his former client to apply for $2.5 billion in government financing:

There are no legal restrictions on the legislative activities of former lobbyists who get elected to Congress. But in the wake of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and the subsequent focus on ethics, Mr. Thune's experience has put a spotlight on what some experts call "the reverse revolving door." . . .
Currently, lawmakers and Congressional aides are barred from lobbying former colleagues on Capitol Hill for one year after leaving public office. On Tuesday, Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi and the chairman of the rules committee, is expected to propose legislation that would go further, rescinding House and Senate floor privileges for former lawmakers who become registered lobbyists. Mr. Lott's bill does not address the issue of lobbyists who get elected to Congress.

Democracy and Elections