The assumption that any member of Congress can successfully trade the crushing demands of public life for the money-lined confines of K Street is one of Washington’s most enduring story lines.
It’s also a myth.
Most lawmakers who’ve made the switch aren’t able to make it seriously rain once they walk through the revolving door. And many find that the transition can be much tougher than they imagined.
Take former Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), for instance. The Senate Finance Committee chairman resigned from the Senate in 1995 after the Ethics Committee recommended expelling him for making aggressive sexual advances on almost two dozen women.
He seemed to land on his feet initially, starting his own firm and bringing in about $1.5 million in 1999. Last year, his firm reported just $200,000 in income, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog of political money.
Packwood did not respond to requests for comment.
Then there’s former Rep. Bill Lowery (R-Calif.).
He’s seen his firm’s earnings halved since the Justice Department began investigating his ties to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), who’s been caught up in an ongoing federal bribery investigation.
That’s not to say, though, there aren’t any superstars.
Lawmakers-turned-rainmakers include former Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who founded the Breaux-Lott Leadership Group, which pulled down almost $8 million in its first year.
Louisiana Republican Bob Livingston, who was heir apparent to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) before abruptly resigning after acknowledging several extramarital affairs, has rehabilitated his image on K Street, and his firm made a tidy $9 million last year.