Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said policy aides are required to disclose any potential conflicts involving former employers, but the need for Meltzer to recuse himself “has not arisen.”
Of the 128 former lobbyists employed as chiefs of staff or legislative directors, 50 were hired this year, according to the CRP data. An additional 20 or so have recently joined committee staffs, a Washington Post survey shows.
Many who left lobbying jobs to work in Congress took substantial pay cuts.
Howard Cohen, for example, the chief health policy director for the Energy and Commerce Committee, headed a lobbying firm that was paid more than $1 million
by hospitals, drugmakers and health-care groups for his advocacy work last year.
The maximum salary for House staff members in a personal office is $168,411; the figure for committees and leadership offices is $172,500.
Other former lobbyists working for the committee include its staff director, Gary Andres, who last year lobbied for health, railroad and credit card firms, Federal Express, General Motors and Google; and committee general counsel James D. Barnette, who lobbied last year for insurance, oil and gas, convenience store, liquor and timber companies.
Rules cover only departing — not arriving — senior congressional staffers, prohibiting them from lobbying a lawmaker’s office during a one-year “cooling-off period.” Retired House members also face a year-long ban, while former senators are required to refrain from lobbying for two years.
These and other restrictions were strengthened under a 2007 ethics measure co-sponsored by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). As president, Obama has barred registered lobbyists from being hired by agencies they lobbied without a special waiver. He also set a two-year ban for those who leave the administration on lobbying the agency that employed them.
Congressional staff members and lawmakers are barred from taking actions that benefit their personal financial interests. But “it’s a world of difference in approach” between the strict rules that govern work by ex-lobbyists in the executive branch and those in Congress, noted Kenneth Gross, an ethics lawyer who formerly headed the Federal Election Commission’s enforcement office. “The legislative branch should have rules that are much tighter.”
David B. Krone, the chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) since 2010, was a telecommunications lobbyist until 2006 and then a Comcast executive. In Reid’s office, he has worked on telecommunications issues such as net neutrality and a new cybersecurity bill.
He declined to comment, but Reid spokesman Jon Summers said Krone “has worked closely with Reid on every issue.”
When Rep. Michael C. Burgess, a Republican doctor from Texas, sponsored a bill last month that would make dental schools eligible for emergency preparedness funding, his chief staff adviser on health issues was James Paluskiewicz, a lobbyist until 2008 for the American Dental Association. The association had endorsed the bill, which the House passed on March 8.