With the revolving door spinning out of control and legions of former government officials and staffers trading on their government connections and knowledge to win lucrative private sector jobs as lobbyists, it is refreshing to see House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) act swiftly and decisively to stifle this abuse by his former senior staffer, Peter Roberson.
Roberson was instrumental in drafting derivatives provisions of the financial reform legislation that the House passed in December. When Roberson made the legally required disclosure to Chairman Frank that he was negotiating employment as a lobbyist with a firm in the derivatives industry, Chairman Frank removed Roberson from any further work on the committee and denied Roberson any compensation beyond what he was already owed. When Roberson left to join Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), an operator of derivatives exchanges and clearinghouses, Chairman Frank borrowed from President Obama’s rulebook and unilaterally banned contacts between Roberson and the staff of the House Financial Services Committee for as long as Frank remains chairman of the committee. President Barack Obama imposed a similar ban on former executive branch officials from ever lobbying the Obama administration.
Suddenly, the revolving door deal – in which Roberson cashes in on his contacts in government and ICE hires an “insider” to peddle its arguments on Capitol Hill – no longer seems so lucrative for either party.
If more committee chairmen would follow Chairman Frank’s and President Obama’s lead, they could make major inroads against the cash-for-connections racket. They also would help counter the widespread belief that service in Congress is becoming little more than a resume-builder for aspiring corporate lobbyists.
Public Citizen applauds Chairman Frank’s actions.
Craig Holman is the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.