New Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) defends hiring energy lobbyist as chief of staff

Incoming Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) ran as a tea party candidate, who claimed to be determined to change how business was done in Washington.  But the R-UT is already in the rut, as ThinkProgress explains in this cross-post.

On Fox News Sunday, Lee was asked by Chris Wallace why if his goal was to “drain the swamp” would he pick to have an energy lobbyist as his Chief of Staff? Lee responded that he wasn’t “scared” of lobbyists and that his lobbyist was “brilliant”:

WALLACE: Senator Lee, you have chosen an energy lobbyist as your Chief of Staff. Is that the right person to drain the swamp here in Washington?

LEE: I’ve hired the brightest political mind, political consultant, and lobbyist in Utah – a man named Spencer Stokes. He’s a brilliant man. He understands Utah politics and he understands Washington politics and I need a man like that to help me in Washington.

WALLACE: And you’re not scared off by the fact that he is a lobbyist?

LEE:  Ahh no, he’s a lobbyist and he’s a political consultant and I am not scared off by that. He and I share a common vision“¦

Lee joins many other incoming Republicans, such as incoming Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rand Paul (R-KY) who, despite rhetoric of cleaning up Washington, have all hired lobbyists. As the Washington Post reported last month, “Many incoming GOP lawmakers have hired registered lobbyists as senior aides. Several of the candidates won with strong support from the anti-establishment tea party movement”¦.  These cases illustrate the endurance of Washington’s traditional power structure, even in the wake of an election dominated by insurgent rhetoric.”

a ThinkProgress cross-post.

Related TP Post — “At Least 13 New Republican Members Of Congress Hire Corporate Lobbyists To Manage Their Office,” including

  • Rep.-elect Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) selected lobbyist Tim Harris as his chief of staff. Harris works as lobbyist for a trade association representing the shareholders of energy companies like American Electric Power, Duke Energy, NiSource, Vectren.
  • Rep.-elect Mike Pompeo (R-KS) selected Mark Chenowerth as his chief of staff. Chenowerth previously worked as a lawyer on the lobbying team for Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by Charles and David Koch. As ThinkProgress reported early this year, Pompeo was groomed for office by Koch Industries-run front groups, and has served as an executive for Koch Industries oil company subsidiaries.
  • Rep.-elect Robert Dold (R-IL) selected corporate lobbyist Eric Burgeson as his chief of staff. Burgeson works for the lobbying firm BGR Holdings serving business clients in China, the coal industry, and a nuclear company.

10 Responses to New Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) defends hiring energy lobbyist as chief of staff

  1. Mike says:

    Spencer Stokes brilliant?

    Recorded threat draws anger in governor race
    Published: Friday, May 21, 2004

    The Utah GOP governor’s race turned angry Thursday when Jon Huntsman Jr.’s campaign released a tape recording of a Nolan Karras campaign volunteer making political threats against the Huntsman family.

    The tape was also turned over to the state attorney general.

    “We perceive this as a warning, a threat; it has no place in this campaign,” said Jason Chaffetz, Huntsman campaign manager.

    The Karras supporter who left the recorded telephone message is Spencer Stokes, a well-known lobbyist and campaign consultant and former executive director of the Utah Republican Party.

    See also: (unofficial)

  2. catman306 says:

    The Texas Tea Party at it again.

    Why don’t the friggin’ lobbyists just run for office themselves? We routinely elect people in the US whose only qualification for government SERVICE is that they can fog a mirror.

  3. fj3 says:

    Could Climate Science Become Open Source?

  4. Chris Winter says:

    “He and I share a common vision…” Said Senator Lee.

    All too common…

  5. Anne van der Bom says:

    After the embedded reporter, we now have a new phenomenon: the embedded lobbyist.

  6. Barry says:

    Well that didn’t take very long, did it?

    I’m not sure which is more amazing:

    A) the naive willingness of tea party folks to blindly provide window-dressing for their corporate masters’ lightly-veiled pollution agenda


    B) the breathless speed and arrogance of their corporate masters to ditch their tea party minions and to mock the very principles they espoused to recruit the poor cannon fodder.

    Going to have to change the phrase to “drank the tea” it seems…

  7. Barry says:

    catman306 (#2) “Why don’t the friggin’ lobbyists just run for office themselves?”


    The obvious reason is that the public doesn’t want these folks running their government. Didn’t you listen to the tea party at all? “No more corporate lobbyists!”.

    The real qualification that the public wants in the people they elect is the ability to look good, be tall, have ample hair, and give the sense that they would be fun to have a beer with. Oh, and the ability to turn their power over to a suite of corporate lobbyists as their chief of staff, law writing committees and best golfing buddies.

    The ultimate, of course, is to hire a top corporate lobbyist as your Vice President and then go on vacation cutting brush in a far away land. The anti-lobbyist tea party folks thought that was a true Mission Accomplished.

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    Guess what: there are already lobbyists in Congress, such as Brian Bilbray, Republican Congressman from San Diego.

    At least guys like him don’t have to worry about specific conflict of interest charges. They work and vote for any big corporation that pays them, and screw the people while they’re at it. Guys like Bilbray will routinely vote against extension of unemployment benefits, and turn tax cuts for the rich into a moral issue.

    This is all absolutely sickening. The Tea Partiers have been so betrayed that I don’t know that they will ever listen to the truth from an actual statesman, someone like Howard Dean or Jay Inslee.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Having the lobbyists in close assures that the political stooges of Big Business will be well controlled. Think of them as ‘minders. If ‘Thought Crime’ is evidenced, or even thought at all, say by taking notice of the science or paying attention to the mounting number of weather and climate disasters, then the stooge can be ‘de-selected’, say by a juicy scandal. It serves ‘to encourage the others’. Needless to say, Murdoch’s rag, ‘The Fundament’ (aka ‘The Australian’) has brought this technique to Australian journalism. Back in 2006, with an insouciant contempt for the public’s intelligence that is one of The Fundament’s chief charms, it appointed Matthew Warren as ‘environment’ editor. And what were Warren’s credentials for this lofty post? Why,he had been ‘Director External Affairs for the NSW Minerals Council’, -translating from the pompous gibberish, a PR hack for the coal industry.

  10. youMustBeJoking says:

    The Tea Partiers have not been ‘betrayed’. This is what the Tea Party was created. Just google freendomworks and ‘tea party’ in one query.

    What amazes me is the outrage and amazement that ALWAYS comes with ‘news’ like this. And I’m not the only one.