NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. John Tanner of Union City is one of 37 additional attorneys to join an expanding major law firm’s Nashville office.
Tanner, a Democrat who retired from Congress in 2011 after 22 years in office, will specialize in government relations for Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has similar responsibilities for the firm in Jackson, Miss., where it is based.
Butler Snow announced the expansion on Thursday, bringing to more than 220 attorneys practicing in 12 offices nationwide.
The firm also has offices in Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala; Jackson, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Oxford, Miss.; Nashville and Memphis; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; and Fort Washington and Bethlehem, Penn.
The expansion makes Butler Snow one of the Southeast’s largest firms.
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.”
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.”
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 four outgoing House members paid staffers a total of $210,520 during their final two days in office, joining figures compiled by the wattchdog group LegiStorm and reported by the Tennessean. Murfreesboro Democrat Bart Gordon, who retired from Congress, gave $83,547 in bonuses to 17 staffers immediately before he retired in January. That put him at No. 8 and the only Tennessee lawmaker ranked in the top 10 among the 93 House members who retired in January or were voted out of office, LegiStorm found.
During the last three months of 2010, when many lawmakers paid yearly bonuses, Gordon’s entire staff payroll went up by just $1,066, LegiStorm data show. Gordon said that’s because he waited until the last possible moment to issue the bonuses that he said made up for the “lowball” salaries he paid earlier in the year.
He learned not to pay too much too soon after his first year in office, when he exceeded his budget and had to pay overages out of pocket, he said.
…Lincoln Davis, who lost to Republican Scott DesJarlais in November, paid staffers a total of $62,234 during the first two days of January. The Pall Mall Democrat also spent $30,148 more on salaries in the last three months of 2010 than he spent, on average, during the first three quarters of 2010.
Union City Democrat John Tanner paid $48,959 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s in addition to the $42,456 pay bump he gave during the final quarter of last year.
Zach Wamp, the Chattanooga Republican who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor, paid $15,780 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s on top of the nearly $103,000 pay bump he gave staffers during the final quarter of last year.