Barney Frank directs his staff not to talk to aide-turned-lobbyist

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on Thursday barred his staff from having any contact with an aide-turned-financial lobbyist.

In a statement, the House Financial Services Committee chairman said the normal one-year ban on the former staffer, Peter Roberson, is not strong enough. Frank directed committee aides to avoid all communication with Roberson on financial regulation issues as long as he is chairman of the influential panel.

Roberson recently left the staff of Frank's committee to take a lobbying position with IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), a major player in the market for clearing and trading financial derivatives.

Kelly Loeffler, a spokeswoman for ICE, said Roberson was hired at the end of February as vice president of government relations.

Frank and his staff shepherded through the House a sweeping package of financial regulations that is now pending in the Senate. A key section of the bill is a series of restrictions on the multi-trillion-dollar market for derivatives.

"When Mr. Roberson was hired, it never occurred to me that he would jump so quickly from the committee staff to an industry that was being affected by the committee's legislation," Frank said.

Frank said that when Roberson told him he was in negotiations with ICE, Frank removed Roberson from the committee payroll. Frank added that the one-year ban on lobbying by former committee staff is not sufficient, saying, "I do not think that is adequate.

"I am therefore instructing the staff of the Financial Services Committee to have no contact whatsoever with Mr. Roberson on any matters involving financial regulation for as long as I am in charge of that committee staff," Frank said.

ICE did not comment on Frank's statement.