AOC Calls for Ban on Revolving Door as Study Shows Two-Thirds of Recently Departed Lawmakers Now K Street Lobbyists

By Eoin Higgins
Staff Writer, Common Dreams

One of Capitol Hill's most popular new Democrats on Thursday called for a total ban on the revolving door that allows lawmakers to jump from Congress into K Street lobbying firms as soon as they leave office.

In a tweet, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said that former members of Congress "shouldn't be allowed to turn right around and leverage your service for a lobbyist check."

"I don't think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you've served in Congress," said Ocasio-Cortez. "At minimum there should be a long wait period."

After the Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm elections, 44 federal lawmakers left office. A Public Citizen analysis, released Thursday, found that of those 44, 26 "were working for lobbying firms, consulting firms, trade groups or business groups working to influence federal government activities." 

Among those that made the switch are former Rep. Joe Crowley, the Democrat who Ocasio-Cortez unseated, and former Rep. Mike Capuano, a Suffolk County, Massachusetts Democrat whose progressive credentials weren't enough to stop now-Rep. Ayanna Pressley from besting him in the 2018 Democratic primary. 

Former legislators like Crowley and Capuano came in for criticism from Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. In a statement, Weissman took aim at what the revolving door does to Washington politics.

"No lawmaker should be cashing in on their public service and selling their contacts and expertise to the highest bidder," said Weissman. "Retired or defeated lawmakers should not serve as sherpas for corporate interests who are trying to write federal policy in their favor."

"We need to close the revolving door and enact fundamental and far-reaching reforms to our corrupt political system," Weissman added.

In the study, Public Citizen provides a path toward fixing the problem.

Several pieces of legislation would strengthen these ethics laws for former government officials. The For the People Act (H.R. 1), which passed the House of Representatives in March, enacts sweeping reforms that would raise ethics standards at all levels of government. Importantly, H.R. 1 would define "strategic consulting" as lobbying for former members of Congress, subjecting this activity to the existing revolving door restrictions. The legislation would also bar former executive branch officials from doing "strategic consulting" on behalf of a lobbying campaign as well as making direct lobbying contacts for two years after leaving government service.

But, as Ocasio-Cortez pointed out in a series of tweets, there's more to consider than just banning—or at the least delaying—lawmaker entrance into lobbying firms. The nature of congressional pay and the necessities of the work, Ocasio-Cortez said, make the easy money of lobbying very attractive to members of Congress. 

"Keeping it real," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "the elephant in the room with passing a lobbying ban on members requires a nearly-impossible discussion about congressional pay."

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Reposted from Common Dreams

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work