From an editorial Sunday in the Washington Post:
Gone long gone are the days when members of Congress scrupled to become lobbyists upon their departure from office. Now, representatives and senators spin like dervishes through the revolving door. Some 163 former members were registered lobbyists in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Occasionally, those whove lost reelection bids dont even wait to finish out their terms before lighting out for K Street. In 2008, Rep. Albert Wynn of Marylands 4th District lost a Democratic primary and hired on at a law firm with seven months remaining in his term.
At the time, we took Wynn to task, believing that he must have set some kind of record for cynically cashing in one that would stand for a long time. How wrong we were! Now Jo Ann Emerson, a Missouri Republican, has left for what is euphemistically known as the private sector, not after losing a reelection bid but after winning one.
Emerson has announced that shell resign, effective February, and take a job as president and chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which represents federally subsidized utilities like the ones that dot Emersons district.
She and the NRECA are well acquainted, since the latter has contributed about $72,000 to Emersons campaigns over the years and those of her late husband, who preceded her in office. Her new salary has not been announced, but in 2010, the NRECA paid CEO Glen English, a former Democratic congressman, $1.5 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation. For the next two years, Emerson cannot personally lobby, but shell be supervising the many at NRECA who do.
An advocate of interpartisan civility and a relative moderate in the increasingly conservative Republican caucus, Emerson is said by those who know her to have grown frustrated at the nastiness and polarization of politics. She knew how hot the kitchen was when she announced for reelection. If she really couldnt stand it, she could have gotten out then.
Emerson, through her office, says that she had no inkling of the lucrative job offer until after the election, when the association approached her. Ethics disclosure forms first reported by the Sunlight Foundation show that final negotiations began on Nov. 16, precisely 10 days after the election. And then it was apparently striking while the iron was hot for Emerson, rather than saying that no amount of money could persuade her to abandon her constituents freshly renewed trust. I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service to the contrary I see a new way to serve, Emerson explained. Yes: its called self-service.
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