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Former Politicians Cash In

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Key Points

Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make an unlikely team in our highly polarized era. But when it comes to lobbying efforts from former Congressmembers, they are in lock step against the Shadow Congress.

This Shadow Congress comprises 448 former Members who have become lobbyists or “senior advisors,” that’s more than the entire sitting Congress. Over half of Members who left office in January 2019 have already joined a lobbying firm or have gone on to work for lobbying clients.

Some former Members, such as Democrat Tom Daschle, have been employed by lobbying firms under the vague title of “strategic advisor” and made millions; over $2 million a year in Daschle’s case. Another outgoing Member, Republican Lynn Jenkins, was even allowed to set up her own firm before she left office. The House Ethics Committee allowed her to proceed because she promised to not take clients until she left office.

Politicians often talk big about going after lobbyists but fail to follow through. Former President Trump even banned former administration officials from becoming lobbyists for an extended period right after taking office, only to then rescind that order shortly before he left the White House in 2021.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Cruz have a long fight ahead of them.