When One Administration Ends, Where Do All Those Top Officials Go?

By Chris Adams

As one administration, or one Congress, ends its term, government employees scramble for the exits – and often straight into lucrative jobs in the private sector.

That “revolving door” is tracked by organizations such as the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based politics-and-money watchdog. Two experts from the center presented during a National Press Foundation briefing on presidential transitions.

Dan Auble, the center’s senior researcher and revolving-door expert, and Viveca Novak, editorial and communications director, led reporters through resources that can help track influence peddling for stories. What reporters should be after, they said, are stories such as this 2013 piece from The New York Times on a special provision inserted into a must-pass spending bill by a company that maintains a small army of Washington lobbyists.

Auble detailed the restrictions on former lawmakers – for example, how long former senators and representatives have to wait before becoming registered lobbyists. But he also described the ways lawmakers can work around those restrictions by keeping lobbying work under certain thresholds.

Auble also shared the resources at the center’s website, opensecrets.org.

At the “Revolving Door” page is the center’s database, built from government, news, non-profit, corporate and other sources to create biographies for people who have served in the administration or Congress and then gone to the private sector as a registered lobbyist or official with an organization involved in politics, policy or lobbying (full methodology). It is searchable by name, agency, lobbying firm, administration and other criteria.

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