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The Revolving Door of K Street

Long-time Maryland Congressman Al Wynn, who served his voting district from 1993 to 2008, has resigned from office before the end of his term to take up a job with the energy lobbyist Dixie & Shapiro. Wynn’s early departure from office will cost the state of Maryland one million dollars to hold a special-election to fill his seat. Wynn’s departure is part of an ongoing trend in US politics over the past ten years: use public office to build a resume for a lucrative job as a K Street lobbyist.

Up through the late 1990s, it was considered disrespectful of former members of Congress to take up jobs as lobbyists. However, that trend has changed. Now, it appears that many officials use their time in elected office to build up a resume of sorts towards future K Street employment. Perhaps the poster child of this new trend is former Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin. Tauzin helped push through the Medicare Reform Act of 2003 which created the prescription drug benefit known as Medicare Part D. He then retired from Congress and became the CEO of PhRMA, the largest pharmaceutical lobby in the country. His salary grew from $150,000/yr to $2.5M/yr. What gets lost in this trend is the duty of the Congressman to represent the will of the people.