The son of a famous senator, Evan Bayh (D-IN) was born into a life of privilege. After spending nearly two decades in public service, first as governor, then as a senator from Indiana, Bayh is returning to a life of wealth and luxury. Earlier this year, he announced that he would be joining a corporate law/lobbying firm, McGuireWoods LLP, as well as Apollo Global Management, a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.
Now, Peter Stone is reporting that Bayh will be joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, perhaps the most influential lobbying group for multinational corporations and big businesses with a far right lobbying agenda. (View ThinkProgress’ history of the Chamber, including its decades-long opposition to women’s rights, labor rights, and even its refusal to support a war against Nazi Germany.)
Bayh will be joining former Bush administration official Andy Card in a Chamber-led lobbying campaign designed to weaken regulations on corporations across the board, and make it more difficult to enact new regulations. The REINS Act, which Bayh will be helping to pass, will severely undercut (and effectively repeal) significant portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, health and financial reform, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, among many other laws.
It is not clear how much Bayh is being paid by the Chamber, or by his new gigs at Apollo Global Management or McGuireWoods. During the period of 2009-2010, when Bayh was still in office, he appeared to be auditioning for a job in the private sector as a lobbyist:
— Killing Labor Reform: Despite past support for the labor rights legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, Bayh eventually wavered on support the bill once it had a real chance of passing when President Obama came into office. Killing the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have given workers a fair chance to form a union, was the Chamber’s biggest legislative priority other than passing the bank bailouts of 2008.
— Killing Climate Change And Clean Energy Jobs Legislation: Bayh positioned himself to the right of some members of the GOP in opposing a renewable energy standard. He later railed against clean energy reform, which died in the Senate because of obstruction from Bayh and several other conservative senators.
— Supporting Pro-Corporate Senate Obstruction: Bayh even formed a coalition of conservative senators — including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) — to slow and kill major reforms proposed by President Obama. As ThinkProgress’ Matthew Yglesias has noted, Bayh and his cohorts appeared to be “hoping to soak up special interest cash in exchange for blocking the progressive agenda.”
One must wonder: when did Bayh begin negotiations with the Chamber for his current job as a lobbyist? Did the expectation that he would leave Congress and join the private sector as a lobbyist impact his votes and actions while in the Senate? If he had been a staunch advocate for the workers and families of Indiana, and had fought for labor reforms, would he have been welcome for what is probably an extremely highly paid job at the Chamber? The same type of questions could and should be asked of former Reps. David Obey (D-WI), John Tanner (D-TN), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Bart Gordon (D-TN), and many other recently retired members of Congress who have joined corporate lobbying firms.