Congressional staffers and the revolving door to lobbyist firms

Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez, "Today the Sunlight Foundation continued an investigation of how congressional offices operate with a closer look at the ever-present "Revolving Door." The new analysis, covering 2009 to 2011, found at least 378 House staffers left Congress and became registered lobbyists, according to a review of U.S. House disbursement data and federal lobbying records. This group of former House offices and committee staffers includes 50 legislative assistants, 32 chiefs of staff, 26 legislative directors and 22 staff assistants who moved from Capitol Hill to K Street. The Sunlight Foundation's senior fellow, Lee Drutman, concludes:"

Congress continues to operate as a farm team for future lobbyists. Staff build up contacts and policy and political expertise. Then they often go "downtown" and cash in, taking their expertise and networks with them.

Though a certain flow of personnel from Congress to K Street is inevitable, Congress ought to do more to hold onto experienced staff. Recently, we explored retention rates among House staff, and we found that offices that paid their staff more had slightly higher retention rates, though Hill salaries lag behind private sector comparisons. When staff leaves to lobby, their former offices must find somebody new and usually less experienced. And offices who lack staff with policy expertise and political relationships often must rely more on outside lobbyists, who are only too happy to fill the gap.

Almost 400 former House staffers registered to lobby in last two years