Will the Internet turn its collective attention away from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and his Twitter blooper and pay attention to the all-too-regular Beltway Revolving Door? The latest participant: former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who has signed on with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to travel the nation with former President George W. Bush White House chief of staff Andy Card, pitching Chamber soundbites.
I’m not going to venture into the regulatory reform rhetoric that Chamber President Tom Donohue outlines in his memo to the Chamber’s board.
Instead, I’m more concerned about (a) the selling of access for personal gain and (b) what the Sunlight Foundation calls being a “non-lobbyist lobbyist” — that is, someone who is for all-intents-and-purposes a lobbyist but doesn’t have to register as one.
And as Mother Jones notes, stumping on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce seems at odds with Bayh’s rationale for resigning: “I want to be engaged in an honorable line of work.”
Donohue’s memo touts how the Chamber has filed legal briefs to challenge the validity of President Obama’s health care reform bill; successfully delayed a new Securities and Exchange Commission rule on giving shareholders a say on corporate directors; unveiled plans to undermine the clout of the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and delayed a rule forcing companies to disclose when they use conflict minerals from the Congo in their products. Bayh and Card, the memo says, will help the Chamber push this pro-corporate agenda in Washington and beyond.
The Nation provides additional context for the Chamber’s roadshow:
The Chamber of Commerce spent $17 million on federal lobbying in the first quarter of this year, far more than any other group, and has an entire division devoted to fighting the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. It’s fair to say that they’re obsessed with defanging nearly every major piece of legislation enacted by the Obama administration, with financial reform at the top of the list.
Politico reminds us that in February 2010, Bayh criticized the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a decision which grants corporations and other organizations legal authority for limitless spending on campaign ads.
“The threat of unlimited amounts of negative advertising from special interest groups will only make members more beholden to their natural constituencies and more afraid of violating party orthodoxies,” Bayh wrote. The Chamber, in contrast, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the ruling and a major spender in the 2010 election cycle.
Bayh certainly seems to be going where the money is.
This year, he became a “senior adviser” for private equity firm Apollo Global Management (early January) before becoming a partner (late January) with the law firm McGuireWoods (including advising its “consulting” arm, otherwise known as its lobbying brand). In March, he became a Fox News contributor. Now the Chamber.
Bayh holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia (1981) and has been in some form of public service since 1986. In between (1997-1998) his term as Governor of Indiana and serving as its junior U.S. Senator, he took a position as a lecturer at his alma mater, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, and was as a partner at the Indianapolis law firm Baker and Daniels. For calendar 1998, while he was running for the U.S. Senate, he reported (U.S. Senate disclosure, pdf) $621,906 in salary from eight different organizations (giving new meaning to the phrase double-dipping):
- Baker and Daniels, Indianpolis, $265,000
- Dominicks Fine Foods, North Lake IL, $134,652
- Indiana University Foundation, Bloomington, $51,199 (for a part-time lecturer?)
- Eli & Lilly, Indianapolis, $51,455
- Great Lakes Chemical, West Lafayette, $33,000
- Fortis, Inc, New York, $32,000
- Indianapolis Life Insurance, $29,600
- Chartwell Investment, New York, $25,000
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at his alignment with the U.S. Chamber. Today he has only four jobs. Wonder what the next four will be?
Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Digital evangelist, writer, teacher. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill, wiredpen.com