A coalition of do-gooder groups has issued a report listing a startling number of folks who have spun through the revolving door, making stops in industry, the administration and Congress. It all contributes to a cynicism about government -- who is making policy and why, and who is making money off public service.
More importantly, the Revolving Door Working Group says the report, "A Matter of Trust," provides recommendations on how to get the spinning door under control and restore public confidence in government.
Former President Bill Clinton is criticized for first imposing strong post-government employment rules and then rescinding them at the end of his administration, but the report suggests more industry folks have moved into the government during the Bush administration.
Some of the examples: David Lauriski, spent 30 years in the mining industry before being tapped as the Labor Department's assistant secretary of mine safety and health -- he resigned last year to work for a mine-industry consulting company. Jacqueline Glassman worked for DaimlerChrysler before being appointed chief counsel and then deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
At the Agriculture Department, Dale Moore was at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association before becoming chief of staff to the secretary. The undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Mark Rey, who oversees the Forest Service, was a vice president of the American Forest and Paper Association; Mary Waters, assistant secretary for congressional relations was a legislative counsel for ConAgra Foods.
At the Energy Department, Dan Brouillette was assistant secretary for congressional affairs after lobbying on behalf of mining and oil interests. Last year, he joined Ford Motor Co. Former deputy administrator of the EPA, Linda Fisher, had been an executive at Monsanto Co. and left the agency in 2003 for DuPont.
Among the group's proposals: All ethics matters for Congress and its staff should be handled by a single independent agency that can issue and implement rules, and subpoena witnesses. The group also suggests that appointees be required to recuse themselves on matters involving their former employers or clients for the 24 months prior to government service, and that the one-year cooling off period be extended to two years to prevent lawmakers and their staff from lobbying former colleagues. During that period, they wouldn't be allowed to formulate lobbying strategy, which they may do now.
"Two years is one session of Congress, so it helps break that close network of friends," said Craig Holman, a Public Citizen lobbyist and member of the working group, which also includes Common Cause, Defenders of Wildlife, the Government Accountability Project and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, among others.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) are spearheading legislation that includes some of the suggestions.
Holman insisted that the proposals are realistic and not designed to prevent lobbying as a career option for government officials. "I'm a lobbyist, and I have no interest in shutting down lobbying," Holman said.
Coincidence? You Be the Judge
The Texas-based law firm Locke Liddell & Sapp, where Supreme Court nominee and White House counsel Harriet Miers once was a partner, has announced the opening of its public affairs shop, Locke Liddell Strategies, in Washington.
Three veteran GOP lobbyists are working in Washington for Locke Liddell: Roy Coffee, former Austin director of state-federal relations for then-governor George W. Bush; Dave DiStefano, former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio); and Phil Rivers, former chief of staff to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). BellSouth, General Electric, FM Policy Watch and Genworth are on the client list.
"There's no relationship with the timing of Harriet Miers's nomination. The firm has wanted to open an office for some time," Rivers said.
Ashcroft Joins Lobbyists' Ranks
One of the prominent recent travelers through the revolving door is John D. Ashcroft, President Bush's first attorney general, and before that a senator and governor from Missouri. He formed his consulting company, the Ashcroft Group, this spring with his former chief of staff, David Ayres, and former Senate adviser Juleanna Glover Weiss.
Although his role will generally be in "strategic consulting on high-stakes matters," according to Weiss, a former press secretary for Vice President Cheney, Ashcroft last week dipped his toes into the lobbying waters by registering to lobby on antitrust matters for the Oracle Corp., the world's largest database software company.
Oracle is acquiring Siebel Systems Inc. On Monday, Oracle and Siebel revealed the Justice Department has requested additional information. Weiss said Ashcroft is advising Oracle on "negotiating the regulatory hurdles," but so far hasn't visited Capitol Hill on the company's behalf.
Ashcroft is still covered by federal ethics restrictions and is precluded from lobbying his friends at Justice.