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Sitting Rep. Leading 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks Accepts Job as Duke Energy Lobbyist (Video)

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those retiring this term, are taking private pledges in the office towers dotting downtown Washington, DC.Those pledges, employment contracts to lobby their former colleagues on behalf of corporate interests, have become an increasingly biennial traditio

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JL A. (286)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 11:28 am
Sitting Rep. Leading 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks Accepts Job as Duke Energy Lobbyist
Lee Fang on November 27, 2012 - 3:43 AM ET

As a class of newly elected members of Congress prepare to swear their oath as public servants, another class, of those retiring this term, are taking private pledges in the office towers dotting downtown Washington, DC. Those pledges, employment contracts to lobby their former colleagues on behalf of corporate interests, have become an increasingly biennial traditional for both parties.

Yesterday afternoon, Duke Energy, the coal-fueled utility company based in North Carolina, sent out a press release stating that they are “pleased” to announce that Congressman Health Shuler will be “joining our team in Washington.” He will lead the company’s federal government affairs (i.e., lobbying) efforts.

It should be no surprise that Shuler, a prominent Blue Dog conservative Democrat who chose to skip re-election after Republicans gerrymandered his district, is among the first to reveal his new gig as an influence peddler. Another top Blue Dog, Representative Mike Ross of Arkansas, is one of the only other sitting lawmakers this year to already make public his plans to head into lobbying.

Earlier this year, I helped found the corruption watchdog blog Republic Report to keep an eye on the influence industry and its corrosive effect on policy. Back in July, following reports that Shuler had begun negotiating for a job on K Street while still serving in office, and setting policy that could impact his future employers, my former colleague Zaid Jilani, now the PCCC’s lead blogger at The Daily Change, and I asked him about his plans.

He bluntly told us that “no,” he is not seeking a job as a lobbyist. But, the former Redskins quarterback did inform us that he planned to “Have a better job than you guys” (emphasis added):

FANG: It’s been reported a month or two ago that you’re already negotiating for a lobby job because you’re retiring this year
SHULER: Ha! No, I’m on the phone with my wife.
FANG: But you’re not even negotiating with the Majority Group, or any of these other lobbying firms on K Street?
SHULER: Nope. You read it wrong, buddy. […] Rob worked for me; Walt was my colleague. I can have a conversation with them if I want to.
FANG: Are you planning to become a lobbyist?
JILANI: What do you plan to do after you retire?
SHULER: Have a better job than you guys have, that’s for sure.

Watch it:

Though Shuler has already accepted the position with Duke Energy, he is still helping to lead a bipartisan coalition, along with Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID), to deal with the “fiscal cliff.” Shuler has promised an “all options” approach, one that will undoubtedly affect his soon to be employer. Duke Energy benefits from a host of tax subsidies, so much so that Citizens for Tax Justice found that the company paid an effective tax rate of negative 3.9 percent from 2008–10 while making over $5.5 billion in profit.

The press release has a disclaimer that Shuler will abide by House Ethics rules and not vote on any legislation affecting Duke Energy. But those rules are laden with loopholes and Shuler can certainly craft legislation and vote on broad measures that impact tax policy affecting his future employer.

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Thousands of former congressmen, federal regulators and staff regularly head to K Street to collect high-paying salaries, often from businesses that have benefitted from their actions in government. There are dozens of high-profile examples of this form of corruption, from former Senator Tom Daschle to former Representative Billy Tauzin, all securing multimillion-dollar paydays from industries they cultivated while in office. A new report shows how military contractors routinely court retired generals, some with wide sway over weapon purchases, with lavish paydays.

The sum of this dynamic is that people in government have much bigger incentives to sell out to industry, even when doing so hurts the public interest. While it seems likely in some cases, behind the scene job negotiations for officeholders become little more than bribery; we haven’t seen federal prosecutors too eager to prosecute this type of corruption. Part of the problem is actually cultural. In Washington, the sell-outs, the men and women who make the most money as industry hacks, are the winners. From high society tabloids like Washington Life to the Beltway media, those who spin through the revolving door are adulated and celebrated.

Maybe that’s why Shuler seemed so certain of a gleaming post-congressional career path.

Tamara Mendelson (1)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 11:32 am

David C. (29)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 3:27 pm
Hi guys come on the poor guy is retiring this term, so there are going to be no more free dinners, no one giving him money to vote the way they tell him, no free trips, no more sitting on his backside doing very little as the USA falls apart, so the poor guy has to get a well paid job and like lots of other people, he asking his friends for help.

JL A. (286)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 3:30 pm
You cannot currently send a star to David because you have done so within the last week.

Danuta Watola (1264)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 3:37 am

Gloria picchetti (307)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 4:05 am
When the needy need we are criminals. When the greey are greedier they are rewarded.

Giana Peranio-Paz (405)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 4:20 am
Noted. Thanks.

John Gregoire (292)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:36 am
This sucks and is so unethical! Recall and censure this one!

JL A. (286)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 7:16 am
True John--but recall is pointless since he wasn't re-elected and this is about where he and so many others leaving office in about a month will be working to perpetuate the volume of the corporate voice in Congress.

Gloria, excellent concise statement of the outcome from the transformation of morals in one sector of society.

Sure wish my green star supply had been replenished!
You are welcome Giana.


Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 5:20 pm
Between the Dem. Blue Dogs and the GOP Teabaggers, no wonder Congress is so dysfunctional. All trying to please their corporate masters. Our Sen. from AZ, Kyl, will be taking a pricey job as he's leaving Congress as well. (But, I'd expect no less from a member of the GOP). I've read articles about changing these rules so Congressmembers leaving won't be allowed to take such jobs for at least 2 yrs. after stepping down. Guess that legislation went nowhere. How do we impose these rules on Congress if Congress won't even consider them?

Aletta Kraan (146)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 5:32 pm
Ridiculous !!!!!

Robert K. (31)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:13 pm
Sounds like another deal like the retiring congressman who was leaving for a job as the head of the big pharma lobbying group getting an exemption from Tom DeLay to write Medicare part D which forbids Medicare from negotiating drug prices which action has grossly inflated costs and pharmaceutical company profits.

No former lawmaker should be allowed to petition congress until every single member who served at the same time as him/her has left congress.

JL A. (286)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:24 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Lois because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Aletta because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Robert because you have done so within the last week.

Lynne Buckley (0)
Wednesday December 5, 2012, 9:02 am
What a jerk.

JL A. (286)
Wednesday December 5, 2012, 9:42 am
You cannot currently send a star to Lynne because you have done so within the last week.
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