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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida lawmakers-turned-lobbyists fuel revolving door of politics

WASHINGTON — Connie Mack took a big gamble running for U.S. Senate last year and lost, surrendering a safe House seat.

But unlike many unemployed Floridians, Mack, 45, didn't need to worry. He landed at Liberty Partners Group, a Washington lobbying shop where his father, the former senator of the same name, is a partner.

A steady number of former Florida lawmakers are finding jobs in the lucrative influence business, adding to nearly 340 members of Congress who have breezed through the revolving door in the past 15 years.

"They are literally cashing in on their Rolodex," said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the watchdog Public Citizen.

Since 1998, when the numbers became easier to track, 43 percent of former representatives and senators have gone into lobbying, Holman said, exposing the cozy relationships Washington runs on and the high cost of joining the club. "It distorts the legislative process in favor of those who can pay for that Rolodex."

Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, said his constituents are noticing. "They say, 'You guys are just cleaning up on being part of this process.' "

Posey has filed legislation that would impose a five-year ban on lobbying by ex-lawmakers and make them give up their federal pensions when they become lobbyists.

"Sometimes in Washington people forget that working in Congress, or in a federal agency, is first and foremost about serving your fellow Americans — that's where the focus needs to be," he said when the bill was introduced.

Full story here.

[Last modified: Saturday, June 1, 2013 5:31pm]


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