Washington watchers frequently note the revolving door between positions in the federal government and positions in the companies the federal government regulates, and watchdogs rail against it. Of course, the revolving door is not only used by bureaucrats and staffers – legislators often spin their way through it as well.
One watchdog, OpenSecrets.org, focused its spotlight in AT&T, which has six lobbyists working on its behalf who first made it to the US Capitol via the ballot box.
The six member team is balanced – two former senators, one from each party, and four former House members, two from each party.
There is a waiting period before a former legislator can put out a lobbyist’s shingle – it was recently observed by former Senator (R-OR) and current President/CEO of the NAB Gordon Smith.
Former Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) actually left the body before his term was up in order to get his lobbying career off to as smooth a start as possible.
The advantage of having a former legislator in your corner on The Hill are obvious – familiarity with process and established relationships with sitting members both go a long way toward getting key phrases inserted into the language of a bill and/or keeping key phrases out.
OpenSecrets notes that 43 organizations have three or more former legislators on the payroll.
NCTA slightly outguns NAB on this count, with four former legislator lobbyists to the NAB’s three, according to OpenSecrets.
Other communications companies mentioned by OpenSecrets were: with 6: GE; with 5: Comcast and Verizon; with 3: Time Warner Cable.