Home > News > The senator becomes a lobbyist
146 views 2 min 0 Comment

The senator becomes a lobbyist

- February 2, 2011

Jonathan Chait mocks former senator Evan Bayh for taking a job as a D.C. lobbyist. The mockery seems fair enough, but I don’t know that I agree with the commenters who characterize this as corruption, hypocrisy, sleaze, etc.

But hink of this from Bayh’s point of view. After being one of 100 U.S. senators (and near the median, at that), it’s natural to want to stay near the action and have some effect on policy. Lobbying is a natural way to do this. From this perspective, it’s a direct extension of what he’s been doing before. And if it pays well, so be it. I’m not one to turn down free money and I don’t expect that others will do so either.

I’m not being sarcastic here nor am I commenting on the specifics. Perhaps Bayh is a corrupt so-and-so and perhaps he’s a sincere bipartisan (and perhaps, like most of us, he’s a mixture of many things). And I certainly agree with the critics that D.C. lobbying is a mess and is in many ways inherently corrupt (but not overwhelmingly so, I hope). I have not looked as the specifics of the business dealings of Evan Bayh and his wife or of the law firm he’s joining. My only point is that if you’ve been a senator, and you want to influence policy, that being a lobbyist would seem like a natural and reasonable step. Not the only possibility, but a reasonable one and not necessarily inconsistent with higher goals.

Topics on this page