Business hires of former government employees as lobbyists

In Washington, DC there is a large and growing influence industry. One element of this industry is the thousands of people who register as lobbyists with the Congress. Because of the way disclosure rules are written, this is only a fraction of the persons who are actually employed to influence the Congress or the Executive Branch. For example, the members of the various USTR Advisory boards are officially not considered registered lobbyists, even though they are actively seeking to influence government policies, and in many cases directly supervise registered lobbyists. People like Charlene Barshefsky, a former head of USTR under Clinton who now advocates USTR demand tough intellectual property rules for biologic drugs in developing countries, or Pfizer Executive Vice President Sally Susman, who formerly worked for the U.S. Senate and the Department of Commerce and now supervises Pfizers lobbying efforts, don't bother to register as lobbyists.

For those that do register, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) has created a database of the persons who work for the Congress or the Executive Branch, and then become lobbyists. http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/index.php, which is available from their excellent web page, OpenSecrets.org. What the CRP revolving door database shows is how extensive is the role of former government employees in running the lobbying operations for businesses. For example, 51 percent of the US Chamber, 65 perecent of PhRMA, 79 percent of Merck and Microsoft, 90 percent of Goldman Sachs and 94 percent of Vivendi lobbyists are former government employees.

Not every industry or interest group has such a high percentage of former government officials on the payroll. For example, only 40 percent of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and 35 percent of the America Medical Association are former government employees. It is also interesting to note that only 9 percent of the AFL-CIO lobbyists are former government officials.

The role of former government officials as paid lobbyists and public affairs advisers is controversial, because the practice creates a culture that undermines the independence and objectivity of government agencies and the Congress, and creates powerful incentives for government officials to ignore the public interest while currying favor to private interests.

Using the OpenSecrets database, let's take a look at how various trade associations and businesses stack up.

Lobbyists in 2012 who have previously held government jobs*

Pharmaceuticals - Trade Associations

  • 95 out of 146 PhRMA lobbyists
  • 58 out of 86 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) lobbyists
  • 4 out of 10 Generic Pharmaceutical Association lobbyists

Pharmaceuticals - Companies

  • 59 out of 79 Roche Holdings lobbyists
  • 54 out of 74 Pfizer Inc lobbyists
  • 45 out of 58 Eli Lilly & Co lobbyists
  • 33 out of 56 Abbott Laboratories lobbyists
  • 33 out of 42 Merck & Co lobbyists
  • 32 out of 55 Novartis AG lobbyists
  • 27 out of 49 Johnson & Johnson lobbyists
  • 24 out of 35 GlaxoSmithKline lobbyists
  • 19 out of 27 Sanofi lobbyists
  • 14 out of 18 Bristol-Myers Squibb lobbyists
  • 10 out of 16 Gilead Sciences lobbyists
  • 10 out of 18 Teva Pharmaceutical Industries lobbyists

Publishers - Trade Associations

  • 48 out of 66 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) lobbyists
  • 27 out of 32 Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lobbyists
  • 24 out of 27 Motion Picture Associationof America (MPAA) lobbyists
  • 06 out of 11 Business Software Alliance (BSA) lobbyists
  • 03 out of 04 ASCAP lobbyists
  • 01 out of 03 Association of American Publishers (AAP) lobbyists

Publishers - Companies

  • 37 out of 40 Time Warner lobbyists
  • 20 out of 27 News Corp lobbyists
  • 16 out of 17 Vivendi lobbyists
  • 15 out of 18 Sony Corp lobbyists
  • 08 out of 10 Walt Disney Co lobbyists
  • 07 out of 11 McGraw-Hill Companies lobbyists
  • 06 out of 07 Pearson Education lobbyists
  • 02 out of 02 Washington Post lobbyists

Computers, Software, Internet, eCommerce

  • 84 out of 108 Google Inc lobbyists
  • 57 out of 72 Microsoft Corp lobbyists
  • 35 out of 41 eBay Inc lobbyists
  • 32 out of 37 Hewlett-Packard lobbyists
  • 28 out of 34 Cisco Systems lobbyists
  • 26 out of 37 Oracle Corp lobbyists
  • 20 out of 36 IBM Corp lobbyists
  • 20 out of 33 Intel Corp lobbyists
  • 19 out of 24 SAP AG lobbyists
  • 19 out of 24 Qualcomm Inc lobbyists
  • 19 out of 24 Apple Inc lobbyists
  • 12 out of 14 Amazon.com lobbyists
  • 09 out of 16 Dell Inc lobbyists

Tecommunications - trade associations

  • 70 out of 82 National Cable & Telecommunications Association(NCTA) lobbyists
  • 48 out of 66 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) lobbyists
  • 01 out of 06 Computer & Communications Industry Association lobbyists

Tecommunications - companies

  • 95 out of 114 Comcast Corp lobbyists
  • 89 out of 115 Verizon Communications lobbyists
  • 54 out of 80 AT&T Inc lobbyists
  • 34 out of 42 Time Warner Cable lobbyists
  • 22 out of 26 CC Media Holdings (Clear Channel) lobbyists

Banking and Finance - Associations

  • 22 out of 41 Securities Industry & Financial Market Association lobbyists

Banking, Insurance, Finance - Firms

  • 44 out of 49 Goldman Sachs lobbyists
  • 42 out of 60 Visa Inc lobbyists
  • 40 out of 56 JPMorgan Chase & Co lobbyists
  • 11 out of 15 Bank of America lobbyists
  • 09 out of 17 AFLAC lobbyists

General Business or Labor - Associations

  • 84 out of 166 US Chamber of Commerce lobbyists
  • 53 out of 60 Business Roundtable lobbyists
  • 02 out of 22 AFL-CIO lobbyists

Aviation, defense

  • 71 out of 100 Boeing Co lobbyists
  • 29 out of 43 Northrop Grumman lobbyists

Energy

  • 30 out of 43 Chevron lobbyists
  • 20 out of 34 Exxon Mobil lobbyists

Misc businesses

  • 91 out of 129 General Electric lobbyists
  • 35 out of 55 General Motors lobbyists

Health Care (other than pharmaceuticals)

  • 78 out of 126 Blue Cross/Blue Shield lobbyists
  • 27 out of 70 American Hospital Association lobbyists
  • 12 out of 34 American Medical Association lobbyists

*Source: OpenSecrets.Org