In my mind there are two types of people on Capitol Hill. There are those who are really trying to fix America’s problems and there are those who are really trying to line their own pockets. I really love those who are trying (even those who are misguided but who are trying to fix America). I really, really loathe those who are simply padding their bank accounts.
Soon after he retired last year as one of the leading liberals in Congress, former Representative William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts started his own lobbying firm with an office on the 16th floor of a Boston skyscraper. One of his first clients was a small coastal town that has agreed to pay him $15,000 a month for help in developing a wind energy project.
Amid the revolving door of congressmen-turned-lobbyists, there is nothing particularly remarkable about Mr. Delahunt’s transition, except for one thing. While in Congress, he personally earmarked $1.7 million for the same energy project.
So today, his firm, the Delahunt Group, stands to collect $90,000 or more for six months of work from the town of Hull, on Massachusetts Bay, with 80 percent of it coming from the pot of money he created through a pair of Energy Department grants in his final term in office, records and interviews show.
Experts in federal earmarking — a practice of financing pet projects that has been forsaken by many members of Congress as a toxic symbol of political abuse — said they could not recall a case in which a former lawmaker stood to benefit so directly from an earmark he had authorized. Mr. Delahunt’s firm is seeking a review of the arrangement from the Energy Department. (more…)
More from CREW:
Rep. Delahunt’s case may be more direct than most, but he isn’t alone. CREW’s research found five other former lawmakers, all of whom left office within the past five years, collecting lobbying fees for institutions they earmarked to while in office (two others are registered to lobby for institutions they have earmarked to, but reported earning only nominal fees). The members collectively earmarked more than $70 million to the organizations they went on to represent, and have pulled in a total of nearly $1.9 million from the work. Former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), for example, earmarked $1.6 million for defense contractor Northrop Grumman in the 2008 budget. Then he left office – but apparently kept up the relationship. The company was one of his early lobbying clients, and lobbying disclosure records show the contract brought in nearly $1.3 million in fees between 2008 and 2010.