Talk about having your pork and eating it, too. The New York Times last week reported former Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA), now heading a lobbying firm, will be paid from an earmark he pushed through while still in Congress. The Times quoted experts in federal earmarking as saying “they could not recall a case in which a former lawmaker stood to benefit so directly from an earmark he had authorized.”
Rep. Delahunt’s case may be more direct than most, but he isn’t alone. CREW’s research found five other former lawmakers, all of whom left office within the past five years, collecting lobbying fees for institutions they earmarked to while in office (two others are registered to lobby for institutions they have earmarked to, but reported earning only nominal fees). The members collectively earmarked more than $70 million to the organizations they went on to represent, and have pulled in a total of nearly $1.9 million from the work. Former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), for example, earmarked $1.6 million for defense contractor Northrop Grumman in the 2008 budget. Then he left office – but apparently kept up the relationship. The company was one of his early lobbying clients, and lobbying disclosure records show the contract brought in nearly $1.3 million in fees between 2008 and 2010.
The practice is, at best, unseemly – and, given that the lobbying ban for former members who left office last year just expired, likely to become even more widespread.