Politico reports today that “at least 16” of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) former Senate staffers have gone on to careers in lobbying, according to an analysis of federal lobbying records. In some cases, McCain staffers have gone to K Street and then returned to McCain’s office:
In many cases, they went to work for clients whose issues the staffers dealt with in the Senate. … Still, during McCain’s nearly 25 years in Congress, the revolving door has remained open. As his aides have moved downtown from Capitol Hill, they’ve drawn from their experience on the senator’s personal staff or on his key committees: Armed Services, Commerce and Indian Affairs.
In a previous Politico interview, however, McCain proclaimed, “I would not allow anyone who worked for my administration to go back to lobbying.” Asked about the discrepancy, spokesperson Brian Rogers said McCain was not referring to congressional staff going to K Street. McCain “was making clear where he stands on the revolving door as it relates to the presidency,” he said.
McCain, however, has written legislation attacking the revolving door specifically with reference to former congressional officials. In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal in 2005, McCain wrote landmark legislation that “would double to two years the length of time that former congressional officials are barred from lobbying,” according to the Washington Post.
Indian Country Today reported on December 28, 2005 that McCain’s legislation limited former staffers from lobbying on behalf of Native American tribes:
Ex-government employees who go to work for a tribe will now have to wait one year before lobbying their former colleagues. The provision will “close a loophole” in federal conflict of interest laws for those who represent Indian tribes, McCain said.
Politico notes, however, that two of McCain’s former Indian Affairs Committee aides — Eric Eberhard and Steven Heeley — “later represented the interests of Native American tribes in Washington,” undermining the intent of McCain’s legislation.
McCain’s tough talk on lobbyists, calling them the “symptom of a disease” and “birds of prey,” has been consistently undercut by his staff’s revolving door with K Street.