January 20, 2011

Public officials easing into top-flight lobbying jobs following departures

Politico has an in-depth look at former Obama administration officials leaving their posts and landing lucrative positions at the top lobbying, public relations and corporate firms in America:

But with his administration at its midpoint, a traditional time for personnel turnover, it’s clear that despite Obama’s avowals, a longtime truism of Washington life — that a prestigious-sounding administration post can be a lucrative career enhancer — remains unchanged.

In recent months, officials have quietly left the White House, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Highway Administration and the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security for high-paying gigs on K Street and Wall Street, for top PR firms including the Glover Park Group and VOX Global and to work or lobby for powerful media and telecom companies including Facebook, Comcast, Bloomberg L.P., DirecTV, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile.

This "revolving door" between government and lobbying firms is inevitable — as long as government is heavily involved in regulating or running large sections of the economy.

While ethics pledges may forbid these individuals from lobbying their former employer and only allow them to lobby third-parties like Congress, the only realistic way to stop or at least slow down this cycle is to scale back the government to its original and limited functions.