How corporations bribe congressional staffers even before they become congressional staffers
HERE‘s a clever scheme perpetrated by Corporate America:
Recent disclosures and employment agreements reviewed by The Nation show that current leadership staff to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have received six-figure bonuses and other incentive pay from corporate firms shortly before taking jobs in Congress. In many cases, these staffers are well positioned to influence multibillion-dollar legislation on issues ranging from tax policy to defense, and which impact their previous employers. If government officials turned lobbyists reflect a well-known “revolving door,” paying corporate employees big bucks to leave lucrative posts to take jobs in government reflect a “reverse revolving door.”
Robert Walker, an attorney and former chief counsel to both the House and Senate ethics committees, told The Nation that ethics rules authorize congressional staffers to receive bonuses from prior employers as long as the money is being paid for work previously performed. Such bonuses and other financial awards are ostensibly allowed so long as they have “not been enhanced because of the individual’s congressional employment.”
But it is almost impossible to discern the circumstances under which a lobbying firm or corporation gives bonuses to departing employees who take powerful political positions. Such information is closely guarded, and none of the employers The Nation spoke to were willing to share this type of information.
Congressional staffers can earn as much as $170,000 as a federal employee, but such pay pales in comparison to what many have come to expect on K Street, where top lobbyists earn several million a year. The bonuses, which cut across industries, from defense contracting to broadcasting, and which can amount to several hundred thousand, help staffers to maintain the fixed costs associated with a lobbyist lifestyle.