Earlier today, news broke that Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) intends “to resign his seat before the end of the year.” Lott will explain his plans in two news conferences in his home state of Mississippi later today.
Though the reasons for Lott’s resignation are still unknown, a “congressional official” told the AP that “there is nothing amiss with Lott’s health” and that “the senator has ‘other opportunities‘ he plans to pursue.” NBC News reports that Lott’s “other opportunities” involve joining the “lucrative world of lobbying Congress” before “tougher restrictions in a new lobbying law” take effect:
While the exactly reason Lott is stepping down before he finishes his term is unknown, the general speculation is that a quick departure immunizes Lott against tougher restrictions in a new lobbying law that takes effect at the end of the year. That law would require Senators to wait two-years before entering the lucrative world of lobbying Congress.
“A Lott friend” confirmed to the Politico that the new lobbying law is “a factor in the timing” of his resignation.
Lott, whose son is a lobbyist, was part of a small bloc of conservatives who voted against the ethics reform bill in August that included the two-year revolving door ban. His vote reflected his longtime position as an opponent of lobbying reform. Here are a few more examples of Lott’s defense of his potential, soon-to-be job:
- In Jan. 2006, Lott praised “the practice of secretly inserting special projects into spending bills at the behest of lobbyists,” calling it “an effective way for Congress to address a problem or need back home.”
- In Feb. 2006, Lott derided the effort to fix lobbying loopholes after the Jack Abramoff scandal as “the usual over reaction that we see happen quite often in Washington.”
- In March 2006, Lott voted against establishing a Senate Office of Public Integrity.
- In March 2006, when Congress sought to ban free meals from lobbyists, Lott defended the free meals, saying a ban would imply “that we can be had for the price of a lunch or dinner.”
Lott’s defense of lobbyists should come as no surprise considering how well they treated him while in office. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that Lott topped “the list of current lawmakers who have most frequently been jetted around the country aboard the luxurious private jets of Corporate America.”
Now, with tougher restrictions looming, Lott appears likely to pass through the revolving door to take the type of “lucrative” lobbying job that he fought so hard in the Senate to protect.
UPDATE: In a press conference today, Lott denied that the upcoming ban played “a big role” in his decision.