It's official. Per capita, Indiana politicians are the second most venal in the nation, at least when measured by the proverbial "revolving door," through which former elected politicians pass to gorge themselves on corporate cash by lobbying their former lawmaker friends.
According to an ongoing project from the online news site Talking Points Memo (TPM), seven former U.S. representatives and senators from the Hoosier state now lobby for corporate interests in Washington. That ranks Indiana sixth nationally in terms of raw numbers. But only one of the top five -- Louisiana with nine former pols feeding at the corporate trough -- has a smaller population than Indiana.
The Talking Points Memo "Shadow Congress" project found that almost 200 former lawmakers presently "work for lobbying shops." Texas is first with 17. New York is second with 15. Pennsylvania has 10, followed by Louisiana with nine and Michigan with eight.
When the ratio of pols turned lobbyists to congressional delegation size is factored into the equation, Louisiana and Indiana are in a league all their own. Louisiana's congressional delegation has only nine members. Indiana's has 12. By contrast, Texas has 34, New York 31, Pennsylvania 19 and Michigan 15.
Topping the list of former Hoosier politicians trading their corporate service in Congress for corporate cash after retirement is the Democratic father-son senatorial team of Birch and Evan Bayh.
Upon leaving the Senate in 2011, the junior Senator Bayh joined President Barack Obama's arch enemy the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. On June 7, Talking Points Memo reported the Chamber hired Bayh "to participate in a regulatory reform 'road show' of speeches, events and media appearances."
"On the GOP side of the aisle, four former representatives -- Ed Pease, David McIntosh, Chris Chocola and Steve Buyer -- are listed in the Talking Points Memo project as corporate lobbyists."
According to a memo obtained by iWatch News, Chamber President Thomas Donohue wrote in a June 2 memo to the lobbying group's board of directors, supporters and friends:
"The Chamber's communications professionals, working closely with our federation and government affairs teams, have done an excellent job educating the public and policymakers about the regulatory overload the nation currently faces, its damaging impact on our economy and jobs, and the urgent need for change. I'm pleased to report that the Chamber has recently enlisted former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and former Senator Evan Bayh who will carry a bipartisan message on regulatory reform out around the country."
Birch Bayh, who served in the Senate from 1963 to 1981, works for the Washington law firm Venable. A June 14, 2001, news release announcing the senior Bayh's hiring explained why: "The addition of Senator Bayh marks the latest in a series of moves designed to develop Venable's public affairs practice. In recent months, the firm has attracted former Assistant House Majority Whip James E. Rogan, top Democratic Party leader Thomas H. Quinn, and Patrick E. O'Donnell, a senior member of Republican Administrations since 1968."
Talking Points Memo's Shadow Congress project also illustrates the bipartisan nature of the legal corruption that permeates American government at all levels.
Joining the Bayhs in the Democratic column is former two-term Eighth District Congressman Brad Ellsworth. Upon leaving office in 2011 after losing a bid for Senate, he became president of Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana -- North. Vectren is a coal-burning electric utility that provides electricity to 59 counties in central and southern Indiana and 17 in Ohio.
"McIntosh, who represented Chocola's district from 1995 to 2001, is a partner in the international law firm Mayer Brown where, according to its Web site, he 'develops a winning strategy for clients who have policy issues before Congress and the Administration.'"
On the GOP side of the aisle, four former representatives -- Ed Pease, David McIntosh, Chris Chocola and Steve Buyer -- are listed in the Talking Points Memo project as corporate lobbyists.
Pease, who represented the Seventh District from 1997 to 2001, is erroneously identified in the TPM project as working for the international law firm Brown Rudnick. According to OpenSecrets.org and various other Internet sources, Pease is a lobbyist for Rolls-Royce.
Chocola, who represented the Second District from 2003 to 2007, is president and CEO of the extreme right-wing Club for Growth, which journalist John Nichols described in a Feb. 22, 2011, blog on The Nation as an "organization funded by extremely wealthy conservatives to carry out their budget-stripping goals."
McIntosh, who represented Chocola's district from 1995 to 2001, is a partner in the international law firm Mayer Brown where, according to its Web site, he "develops a winning strategy for clients who have policy issues before Congress and the Administration."
Buyer, who represented the Fifth District from 1993 to 2011, formed the Steve Buyer Group when he left Congress. He now lobbies on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, with clients listed as Generic Pharmaceutical Assn., Mylan Inc. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
Steven Higgs can be reached at editor@BloomingtonAlternative.com.