Tag Archives: congressmen

Gordon, Tanner Now Lobbyists; Wamp Still ‘Strategic Consultant’

Federal law says that congressmen can’t become a lobbyist for a year after leaving office. The Hill reports that about 30 former lawmakers who served in the 111th Congress — for whom the year has now passed — are now employed at law firms, lobby shops, trade groups and think tanks that are registered to lobby.
Yet only 10 of those individuals are themselves registered to lobby. Among them are former Tennessee Democratic Reps. Bart Gordon and John Tanner.
On the other hand, former Republican Rep. Zach Wamp is among the majority who remain a “strategic consultant” on getting government contracts and the like — without registering as a lobbyist.
Excerpt from the article:
Former lawmakers at the registered firms say they want to stay involved in public policy debates but find trooping up to Capitol Hill to advocate for clients unappealing. Corporate headhunters say ex-lawmakers are wary of the
“Scarlet L” — the taint of being a registered lobbyist — because it could hinder future political ambitions.
Chris Jones, managing partner of CapitolWorks, said former lawmakers are avoiding the lobbyist tag by working as “senior advisers” at law firms and lobby shops.
“According to their job definition, they are not really meeting the lobbying threshold. … They are probably managing the effort rather than physically lobbying for the client. This is the 30,000-foot view of the project,” said Jones, who recruits lawyers and lobbyists for firms. “That seems to be the scarlet letter. People like to throw it around with disgust.”

GOP Congressmen Not Sure About Obama Merger Plans (but sure he should have done more)

Members of Tennessee’s Republican congressional delegation are reserving judgment on giving President Barack Obama authority to merge several business-focused federal agencies, while being quick to criticize the Democratic leader for not doing more.
From Michael Collins report:
“It’s not nearly enough,” says U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. “I applaud any effort to save money in the federal government, but this really isn’t even a drop in the bucket.”
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann echoed Duncan’s statement. “I’m always in favor of reducing the size of the federal government and making it work more efficiently. However, for President Obama to act as if this is a major step in that direction is laughable.”
In his 2011 State of the Union address, Obama pledged to develop a plan to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government “in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America.” In January, he laid out part of that plan.
Speaking to business leaders in the White House’s East Room, Obama said he would ask Congress for the authority to merge six agencies that focus primarily on commerce and trade. Other presidents have had the restructuring authority that Obama is seeking. Congress granted that authority to the White House during the Great Depression, but let it expire in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan was in office.

Ten of 22 Former TN Congressmen Now Work as Lobbyists (with more to come?)

In a story about former congressmen becoming lobbyists, The Tennessean reports that it was able to identify 22 living former members of Congress from Tennessee.
Of those, at least 10 have worked as lobbyists, and two who left Congress last year — Democrats Bart Gordon and John Tanner — are now in a position to do so in their jobs at Washington law and lobbying firms.
When Tanner joined Prime Policy Group as vice chairman last February, the firm’s CEO, Scott Pastrick, said in a news release: “John Tanner brings a deep understanding of the legislative process, the policy and political nuances that shape corporate policy on Capitol Hill. He is a consensus builder who is respected across the political aisle in Congress and throughout foreign capitals.”
Similarly, the administrative partner of K&L Gates LLP’s Washington office, David T. Case, said of hiring Gordon as a partner last March: “Adding Chairman Gordon to an already accomplished public policy and law team — which also includes former Congressman Jim Walsh and former Senator Slade Gorton among its roster — will allow us to provide our clients with unparalleled policy and political advice and assistance.”
….Along with the 12 former members from Tennessee who have clearly lobbied Congress or started working for lobbying firms, The Center for Responsive Politics also lists former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. among the 370 former congressmen or senators nationally who have worked both sides of the “revolving door.” But the House and Senate have no records of Ford registering as a lobbyist, and Ford has said that wasn’t his role at investment bank Merrill Lynch, where he was a vice chairman and senior policy adviser before moving to Morgan Stanley last year

See also a sidebar listing some former members of Congress with continuing ties to Washington.
Note: Not mentioned is former Rep. Zack Wamp, now operating Zack Wamp Consulting, who is also in a position to begin lobbying a year after leaving office. Right now, according to his website, Wamp is “engaged as a consultant in the energy, defense, and transportation sectors for some of the most prominent companies in the world.”

Newspaper Asks Former TN Congressmen About Newt

As voting finally gets under way after months of campaigning and debates, The Tennessean asked political players from Tennessee who worked with Gingrich during his four years as speaker to discuss his leadership style.
Snippets from the three former congressmen-turned-consultants contacted::
Bob Clement: “Newt was more distant and less personal, stayed in his office more…But there’s no doubt (he was) an intellectual.”
Zach Wamp: “Before the presidential primary kind of went negative, Speaker Gingrich had a whole lot of momentum, principally because he is always looking down the road at where things need to be…He’s a visionary, frankly.”
John Tanner: “He was one of the first people I ever heard refer to other Americans who had a different point of view about public policy as the enemy…I always thought the enemy was terrorists or the Russians or somebody.”

Tennessee’s Frugal Freshmen

Republican Reps. Diane Black of Gallatin, Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, Scott DesJarlais of Jasper and Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah have spent a smaller portion of their annual office budgets than their more senior colleagues, according to a Gannett Washington Bureau analysis of records from the first three quarters of the year initially reported by WBIR-TV.
DesJarlais was the most frugal, spending just 47 percent of his $1.41 million budget by Sept. 30.
That fits with the ultra-fiscally conservative image he has crafted this year by voting against deals on to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for fiscal 2012. While most other Republicans in the delegation favored those compromises, DesJarlais said they didn’t cut enough.
“We tried to run our congressional office the same way that I ran my medical practice — we set a budget and stuck to it,” DesJarlais said. “It was a top priority of mine to ensure that taxpayer dollars were spent in an efficient way, while also making sure that my office had the appropriate resources to serve 4th District constituents.”
…Tennessee’s freshmen spent more on printing and postage than most of the delegation’s more senior members. Black, DesJarlais, Fincher and Fleischmann each spent more than $40,000 to print and send mailings — with Black spending more than $101,000 — while Blackburn, Cooper and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, each spent less than $13,000.
The exception is 23-year House veteran Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr., R-Knoxville, who spent $51,120 on mailings and $50,752 on printing.

TN Congressmen Comment on Payroll Tax Deal

News releases from some of our state’s representatives in Washington:
From U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais
WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) issued the following statement upon the announcement that the House and Senate have reached a deal to extend the payroll tax break for two months:
“The House passed a responsible, bipartisan bill that provided a year-long payroll tax reduction; extended and reformed unemployment insurance; preserved senior’s access to healthcare by preventing a 27% cut to doctors treating Medicare patients; and advanced measures that will boost private-sector job creation.
“Rather than use this bill as a template to work from, the Senate simply refused to take part in the normal legislative process. It is disappointing that since the Senate failed to do their job, we will now have to have this debate again in two months. I will continue to fight for long-term solutions that will provide economic certainty for both American workers and American businesses.”

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Cooper Among Congressmen With Misreported Wealth

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper is not among the top 1 percent of wealthiest Americans, as had been reported in an analysis by USA TODAY that was published in The Tennessean on Wednesday, the Tennessean reported a day later.
The information about Cooper was based on faulty data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, which estimated members’ worth within a range reported on financial disclosure forms by members of Congress. The correct midpoint of that range for Cooper, D-Nashville, was $7.5 million, which places him outside the top 1 percent.
Note: There were other foul-ups in the CRP report. A corrected version of the national news release his HERE.

TN Republican Congressmen on S&P Downgrade

A downgrade of the nation’s debt by one rating agency has some in Tennessee’s congressional delegation playing the blame game, reports WPLN.
Rep. Scott Desjarlais, who voted against last week’s debt deal, said he’s been part of the ongoing effort by House Republicans to put the country on a “fiscally sustainable path.” Desjarlais says Senate Democrats and the President have blocked those efforts to enact what he calls “common sense spending reductions.”
Congressman Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood is calling for the resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Tennessee’s Senators are taking a less partisan tone. Republican Bob Corker said the downgrade didn’t happen overnight and pledged to work toward larger budget cuts. Senator Lamar Alexander says lawmakers will have to work across party lines to reduce federal spending.

A sampler of emailed press releases on the subject is below:

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TN U.S. House Delegation Splits 5-3 on Debt Ceiling Vote

Tennessee’s U.S. congressmen were split in voting on the debt ceiling deal Monday.
Voting yes were Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville and five Republicans — Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, Diane Black of Gallatin, Jimmy Duncan of Knoxville, Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump and Philip Roe of Johnson City.
Voting no were Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis and two Republicans — Reps. Scott DesJarlais of Jasper and Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga.
For more on the Tennessee delegation and the deal, see Michael Collins in the News Sentine and Elizabeth Bewley in the Tennessean.

TN Congressmen on Debt Ceiling Debate

Cooper: Cut Our Pay
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville is proposing legislation that would stop salary payment to congressmen if the United States defaults on the national debt, reports the City Paper.
The bill would prohibit members from receiving pay during a default, and would not allow for that pay to be recouped retroactively.
“Failure is not an option,” Cooper said in a release. “But, if default occurs, another paycheck for congressmen and senators should not be an option either.”
Cooper is a long-time advocate of a bipartisan debt plan that reduces spending, reforms the tax code and puts the nation on a sustainable fiscal path. Cooper has urged to allow a vote on the “Gang of Six” bipartisan proposal that would have reduced the debt by almost $4 trillion over the next 10 years. The proposal has not been voted on.

Note: Cooper wrote an op-ed piece for the Tennessean on his proposal, available HERE.
Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais Swamped With Calls
The calls started so early and came so often that U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. arrived in the office at 6:30 in the morning to personally help answer the phones, reports Michael Collins. U.S. Rep. Phil Roe’s congressional website was so overwhelmed that it crashed and was out of service for a good part of the day.
Even social media networks were inundated with angry and often colorful posts as fed-up Americans gave lawmakers an earful about the squabbling that has been going on for weeks between Congress and the White House over raising the nation’s debt limit.
“I don’t care if you have to shut the whole thing down. DO NOT BORROW ANOTHER DIME!!!” one man wrote on U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ Facebook page.
“Please consider paying the bills that Congress has contracted to pay and stop this childish insolent behavior of ‘No No No,'” wrote another. On and on it went Tuesday, the day after President Barack Obama went on national television and encouraged Americans to call their Congress members and urge them to end the stalemate over raising debt ceiling
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Lawmakers Representing West TN ‘All Over the Map’
Bart Sullivan says Memphis area congressmen and senators are “all over the map when it comes to the debt ceiling deadline approaching Aug. 2.”
Some, spurred by conservative constituents who elected a Republican House last November, insist the nation’s credit limit must be tied to steep reductions in future spending. Others endorse raising the limit without major quid pro quos. Here are their responses to a request Tuesday from The Commercial Appeal:
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. — “At a time when Washington is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, Congress must insist on significant reductions in the federal debt at the same time we honor the government’s obligations. I have cosponsored several plans to strike this balance and I hope the President will work with us to achieve a reasonable result.”
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. — “I understand and share the frustrations of the American people who look at Washington and don’t understand how it could be so dysfunctional and why, for so long, we have been living beyond our means, and that’s why I offered the CAP Act to put a fiscal straitjacket on Congress.
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. — “The American people have heard enough of the talk. We need to take the appropriate action to deal with this debt crisis so we don’t default. Republicans remain committed to finding both a near-term and a long-term solution to the nation’s economic woes. The House passed Cut, Cap, and Balance last week, which I strongly support. Now, Speaker Boehner has put forward the Budget Control Act, which I am carefully reviewing. The American people want less spending and greater fiscal responsibility from their leaders in Washington, and it’s time we deliver.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. — “The debt limit has been raised more than 70 times by many Presidents since 1940. But this is the first time raising the debt limit has been tied to spending cuts, which is a dangerous political game. If we don’t raise the debt limit by Aug. 2, we risk default on our national debt and jeopardize funding for many government programs that help people. Failure to increase the debt limit would threaten our position and compromise America’s creditworthiness in the eyes of the world. Congress has to raise the limit, and it must be done with bipartisan support. Both parties will likely have to give a little on their priorities to do this effectively and to keep us from being in the same position within the next several months.”
U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn. — “We’re sorting through the details (of Speaker John Boehner’s proposal) trying to make sure that we know everything that’s inside of it and all the working parts. It’s very complicated at this point — many, many different pieces and legs to it. I’ve really supported the cut, cap and balance and I mean the balanced budget is a very, very important part for me and, I feel like, for our district. I’d hate to see that not part of some kind of a deal. So we’re just going to see how everything falls out. But right now, I’ve not decided if I’m going to vote for it, or not… (Constituents) are telling me, ‘you, know, we understand you have to raise the debt ceiling’…There are some people out there that say ‘let’s let it go down.’ I’m not one of those people. I understand there will be unintended consequences.”
Fleischmann Calls Not Too Bad
The day after President Obama called for Americans to reach out to their representatives and express support his debt ceiling vision, staffers of Tennessee congressmen are reporting to Nooga.com a “manageable” increase in phone activity.
“We’ve seen a slight uptick in our call and email volume, and are handling each them on an individual basis,” Jordan Powell, press secretary for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, said. “This is an important issue, and we understand this is a normal occurrence when hot topics arise.”