Changing Sides

Many legislators, after leaving office, take jobs lobbying on the same issues that they debated as lawmakers. Here are some examples:

  • As an Oregon Republican state legislator, Paul Phillips was fined a record $17,000 for, among other charges, hinting that he would help his then-consulting client, Nike, on upcoming tax legislation, according to a state hearing officer. Phillips went on to lobby for the shoe giant along with many other clients at PacWest, his own lobby shop.
  • As a Republican state senator from Nebraska, Loran Schmit got his first bill promoting the alternative fuel ethanol enacted in 1971. A year after being defeated in his re-election campaign in 1992, Schmit returned to the statehouse as a lobbyist and represents several ethanol interests at his own firm, Schmit Industries, today.
  • Once the chairman of Missouri's Joint Committee on Gaming and Wagering, former Democratic Rep. Chris Liese now lobbies for several gambling industry interests. State law forbids lawmakers to be employed by a casino until two years after they leave office. So to lobby for Isle of Capri Casinos, he got clearance from the Missouri Ethics Commission, the Missouri Gaming Commission, and from his own lawyer, according to TheKansas City Star. Gaming officials ruled that lobbying under contract was not covered by the ban.
  • Jaime Capelo co-authored legislation that capped medical liability rewards in 2003 as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives. Three years later, he now lobbies for several clients that benefited from his landmark bill: trade groups associated with the health care industry. One client, the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, prominently lists Capelo on its Web site as a member of its "Lobby Team," along with two other former legislators.
  • Terry Wanzek served as a Republican in the North Dakota legislature for a decade and chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee before exiting the statehouse after 2002. Starting that year, he put his skills to use as a board member of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association. He registered as a lobbyist when he served a year as the organization's president through January 2006. "I am a self-employed farmer," said Wanzek, who is running for his old Senate seat again. "It was just like a teacher being president of the teachers union."  
  • John Foran helped create San Francisco's Metropolitan Transportation Commission and provide $300 million in transportation funds to localities during more than two decades of combined service as a California Democratic representative and senator. In 2005, the lobbying clients of Foran and his firm included a variety of city transportation authorities — including the MTC.