Revolving door: 100% increase in lobbyists now working for Congress

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K Street, home to many Washington lobbyist shops.

Charles Dharapak/AP

The number of former lobbyists now working for lawmakers has increased more than 100 percent from the last Congress, according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The 111th Congress included 60 former lobbyists; the number has increased to 128 in the 112th. In addition to the large increase, CRP noted that more former lobbyists are working for Republicans than for Democrats. Given the current Republican majority in the House, this is not altogether surprising. However, only 55 percent of the current Congress is Republican and a disproportionate 63 percent of former lobbyists work for Republican representatives and senators.

The issue of hiring former lobbyists as staffers is even more apparent among freshman members of Congress, the report said.

The trend extends beyond the offices of senators and representatives. Some of the congressional staffers who once worked as lobbyists are now employed as congressional committee staffers, in some cases serving on the same committees they once lobbied.

The House Energy and Commerce, House Financial Services and Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees each employ the most former lobbyists, at least 12. Several former lobbyists once held extensive client lists, most notably Charles Kinney, who represented 111 clients before joining the staff of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

“It may, plausibly, be the case that these individuals are able to keep the wishes of their former clients separate from the wishes of the constituents their bosses represent. But it may also be the case that these former lobbyists are now in the position to exercise considerable sway over everything from policy outcomes to government contract decisions and anti-trust decisions,” the report said.