Principal Ivan Adler discusses the opportunities available to former Congressmen in an article in Moyers & Company.
By Michael Winship | April 7, 2015
As the latest chapter in the curious saga of Congressman Aaron “Fly Me” Schock recently came to an end, there was an unintentionally, darkly comic moment. It happened just after the Downton Abbey fanboy announced his resignation from the House of Representatives.
In an interview, his father, Dr. Richard Schock, told a Chicago TV station, “Ten years from now, whatever he’s doing, he’ll be successful at it. I promise you that. Two years from now, he’ll be successful… if he’s not in jail.”
Now that’s a proud dad for you — assuming my boy’s not in the slammer, he’ll be on top of the world. But Papa Doc may have a point. In fact, what do you want to bet that if Aaron Schock’s not in jail, he’ll soon be back on Capitol Hill, a success once again, pulling in an even heftier paycheck — not as an elected official but as a privileged member of the lobbying class — pressing the flesh, making deals, and facilitating fat campaign contributions for the GOP the same way he did while a congressman, plying the rich with concert tickets, fancy dinners and other assorted perks?
Look at former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor – an even bigger Republican money magician — defeated in a primary in his Virginia home district by an upstart who made the incumbent’s obeisance to the financial industry a central issue of his campaign. Remember The Wall Street Journal’s headline? “Eric Cantor’s Loss a Blow to Wall Street.”
Turns out it was a glancing blow at best. Eric’s back and Wall Street’s got him. AsThe New York Times’ Mark Leibovich wrote, just weeks after his primary fiasco, Cantor was “the latest example of Washington’s upward-failing, golden-parachuted, everybody-wins calculus.”
Sure enough, September came and with it news that Cantor was joining the boutique global investment bank Moelis & Company. The Times commented when the announcement first appeared in The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Cantor has no previous experience in high finance or investment banking. But the reason for his new job is clear: The Moelis founder Ken Moelis told the Journal that he was hiring Mr. Cantor in part for his ability to open doors — an admission that Mr. Cantor will now be paid to trade on the influence and friendships he developed as a House leader.
As if to prove that last point, just a few weeks ago, Cantor threw a party to open the new Washington office for Moelis, and the hobnobbing fun was intense. There they all were, toasting their boy Eric: House Speaker John Boehner; the new House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy; Majority Whip Steve Scalise; Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry and chair of the House Republican Conference, Cathy McMorris Rodgers – not to mention, according to Politico.com, “a few House Democrats and a handful of GOP senators.”
They stay in DC to reap the bountiful harvest that comes from Capitol Hill experience and good old fashioned cronyism.
A fellow former member of the Virginia congressional delegation, Tom Davis, told Politico, “Eric will find very quickly that you don’t have to be a member of Congress to be an influencer. He’s got one of the best Republican Rolodexes in the country…” To that end, Cantor already has held a meet and greet for Chris Christie in Richmond and given advice to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
This is what ex-members of Congress and their staffs do nowadays. Rarely do they follow the example of ancient Rome’s Cincinnatus and go back to the farm – or take that teaching job at the local university or join a hometown law practice. They stay in DC to reap the bountiful harvest that comes from Capitol Hill experience and good old fashioned cronyism.
As a result of November’s midterm elections and retirements, at the beginning of the year nearly 50 members of the House and a dozen senators got the old heave-ho but competition for their services within the Beltway was, as The National Law Journal reported, “hot.”
The legal newspaper observed, “Firms usually want big names from leadership of industry regulation-focused committees, but with collegial, bipartisan reputations.” Washington headhunter Ivan Adler told the paper that bidding starts at a million for a retired senator, $500,000 or more for a former House member. And three years ago, investigative journalist Lee Fang found that when they join the lobbying world, “Lawmakers increased their salary by 1,452 percent on average from the last year they were in office to the latest publicly available disclosure.” […]
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