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8 ex-lawmakers make quick shift to private sector

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Out of office for only a few weeks, eight members of the 117th Congress have made the shift from legislating to lobbying.

Lobbying is the most popular profession for ex-lawmakers, who often leverage their deep connections and expertise to earn a payday from corporate clients that far exceeds their congressional salary.

The list will likely grow in the coming months. Fifteen members of the 116th Congress went into lobbying, along with 35 members of the 115th Congress, according to nonpartisan research group OpenSecrets. 

Federal law bars House members from lobbying their former colleagues for one year after leaving office. But they can still advise clients and others at their firm on how to go about lobbying lawmakers — and directly lobby the executive branch — during that “cooling off” period.

Here are the members of the last Congress who have already moved on to lobbying or consulting jobs:

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on Monday, July 19, 2021. (Greg Nash)

The 18-term congressman told The Hill that he won’t lobby his former colleagues in Congress, leaving that work up to lobbyists at Summit Strategies, a transportation-focused firm he’s partnering with.

“I’ve been working on advocacy and convincing people to do things for 36 years in the House,” DeFazio said in an interview. “I would rather impart knowledge and talk about strategy with people than actually be in the trenches.”

DeFazio, who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, decided against joining a large D.C. firm despite considerable interest on K Street for his expertise and connections. He plans to work mostly with public entities, such as state and local governments.

“You go into a big firm and you’re under pressure to bring in work or to help them with clients that they already have who you may or may not agree with,” DeFazio said. “It just seemed better to be on my own.”

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.)

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.). (Greg Nash)

Perlmutter, an eight-term congressman, is a newly minted partner at Holland & Knight, a D.C. firm that brought in the third-most lobbying revenue last year.

The recently retired lawmaker was a senior member of the influential House Financial Services Committee and chaired its consumer protection panel. He was the lead sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, a bill to help cannabis businesses access banking services that faltered last Congress. 

Holland & Knight said Perlmutter will help the firm’s numerous clean energy clients access funding created in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) is seen during a press conference on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 regarding Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) removing Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) off of the January 6 Select Committee.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) on July 21, 2021. (Greg Nash)

Law and lobbying firm Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies named Davis its managing director earlier this month. 

The five-term congressman lost his primary last year. Davis has close ties to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) after serving as his deputy whip and was the top Republican on the House Administration Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Cozen O’Connor said Davis will “leverage his substantial experience in public affairs to provide strategic counsel to the firm’s government relations clients.”

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) addresses reporters during a press conference on July 14 to discuss bipartisan legislation to end forced arbitration clauses.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) on July 14, 2022. (Greg Nash)

Bustos, the former chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, joined Mercury as co-chair of the lobbying firm’s D.C. office and head of its Illinois team.

The five-term congresswoman quickly rose up the ranks, serving as co-chair of House Democrats’ steering and policy committee last Congress. Bustos said she would use her experience to “provide strategy and value to clients across various sectors.”  

Mercury is popular among foreign lobbying clients, representing Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and surveillance firm Hikvision, among others. 

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.)

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) on May 30, 2022. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian via AP, File)

The Children’s Hospital Association brought on Herrera Beutler as a strategic adviser last week. 

The six-term lawmaker, who was a senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, lost her 2022 primary to a Trump-backed challenger after voting to impeach the former president. 

Herrera Beutler has spoken out about the importance of children’s hospitals after her daughter Abigail was born prematurely and without kidneys in 2013. Doctors saved her life in what was considered an unprecedented medical procedure.

“No one deserves our efforts more than our nation’s children,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). (Greg Nash)

Butterfield retired from Congress shortly before his term ended to join McGuireWoods Consulting as a senior adviser for federal public affairs.

The nine-term lawmaker remains close to key Democratic leaders, including House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.). Butterfield served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and deputy whip to Clyburn. He was also a senior member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.)

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Monday, April 4, 2022 to discuss a recent virtual meeting with border patrol officers over Title 42 and current conditions on the ground.

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) on Monday, April 4, 2022. (Greg Nash)

Katko joined the HillEast Group as a senior adviser this week. He’s reuniting with three of his former chiefs of staff, who run the D.C.-based lobbying firm. 

Katko, who was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump, retired at the end of last Congress. He was the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee and chaired the Republican Governance Group, a faction of moderate Republicans who will have sway over the House GOP’s agenda.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.)

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.). (Greg Nash)

Doyle joined D.C. law and lobbying firm K&L Gates as a part-time government affairs counselor shortly after retiring from Congress. 

The 14-term lawmaker was a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Doyle said that he will focus on helping “Pittsburgh-area and other businesses, universities, and non-profits” access federal support and navigate Congress and the executive branch.


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