The starting salary for a US Congress member is $174,000 per year, which doesn’t include additional revenue one can earn for chairing different committees. For most people, that would be more than enough, but for many legislators it’s only the beginning. Three political scientists found in a new study that nearly half of retiring Congress members become political lobbyists upon retiring, often quintupling their income and exerting unfair influence over legislation in the process.
The data indicates that in the 1970’s and 80’s it was extremely rare for Congress members to go on to become lobbyists, as the pay for play lobbying system of today was virtually non-existent. In the 1990’s, corporate America became particularly skilled at bending the will of the state away from actually representing the people and towards their own nuanced positions through the use of lobbyists — otherwise known as fascism or corporatism.
Today, there is a reported $3.2 billion dollars-per-year spent on lobbying activity, with estimates that there is actually closer to double that amount spend, as only registered lobbyists activities are disclosed.
Congress passed the Lobbying Disclosure Act in 1995 to provide more accountability and transparency, because prior to the legislation being passed the rules for registration as a lobbyist were even more lax. Even after the Lobbying Disclosure Act, many former Congress members simply choose not to register, such as former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), but continue to engage in work virtually identical to that of a registered lobbyist.