Nearly 400 House staffers left to become lobbyists, study finds

Nearly 400 congressional staffers have left the House of Representatives since 2009 to become registered lobbyists, according to a study from the Sunlight Foundation.

Of the 378 staffers who moved through the revolving door, more than half, or 60.8 percent, were Democrats, the study found. 

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The imbalance reflects the change of power from the 2010 midterm election, when the GOP captured the House majority and dozens of Democrats lost their seats. Approximately 42.8 percent of the Democratic staffers who went to K Street came from the offices of members who lost reelection or retired in 2010.  

Sunlight also noted that the “majority of departing staff do not move to K Street.”

“In many respects, Congress continues to operate as a farm team for future lobbyists,” Sunlight’s Lee Drutman writes in a blog post on the study.

“Staff build up contacts and policy and political expertise. Then they often go ‘downtown’ and cash in, taking their expertise and networks with them,” Drutman writes.

Roughly 25 percent of former Rep. Michael Arcuri's (D-N.Y.) office left to become lobbyists, making him the member with the most staffers-turned-lobbyists, the study found. Former Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) tied for a close second, with four staffers each moving to K Street.

The Financial Services committee lost nine staffers to lobbying, or almost 13 percent of its staff, while Appropriations lost the most staff at 11 employees-turned-lobbyists. 

House staffers came to K Street from a variety of jobs, with the highest percentage — 11 percent — leaving a position as counsel. Fifty legislative assistants, 32 chiefs of staff and 26 legislative directors moved over to lobbying, Sunlight found.  

Sunlight found that 156 of the 378 staffers joined inside-the-Beltway lobbying firms, while 80 staffers joined for-profit corporations. Another 72 staffers went to trade associations and businesses, and 37 went into nonprofit advocacy.