States Can Help Show the Federal Government How to Rein in Lobbying Activity by Former Public Officials
22 July 2019 – Two states in particular – Iowa and Maryland – have developed revolving door restrictions that effectively prevent former state officials from conducting any lobbying activity for a period of time after leaving public office – something the federal government should implement, a new Public Citizen analysis finds.
As “laboratories of democracy,” the experiences among the states in trying to slow the revolving door between government and industry offer lessons for the federal government.
The revolving door is a practice in which former public officials cash in on their government service by becoming lobbyists or strategic consultants after they leave government, then selling their inside connections and knowledge to corporate interests. This revolving door muddies whether public officials are representing the public interest or corporate interests.
Several states have determined that a one-year ban on lobbying by former public officials is far too short. At the very least, the “cooling-off’ period should be a full two-year legislative cycle so that turnover fades the former officials’ inside connections. Florida imposes a six-year cooling-off period.
More importantly, states like Iowa and Maryland prohibit former officials from conducting any “lobbying activity” for compensation during the cooling-off period, not just banning “lobbying contacts” during that period as is done at the federal level.
The worst states – Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming – have no restrictions, the analysis found.
See how other states manage the revolving door here.