Former politicians should be banned from lobbying for 12 years not six
Election season is over. The losers and those term-limited out are moving onto the next chapters in their lives. The problem is that they don’t usually move very far.
The tradition in politics is that those who have been dispatched from office turn around and use their contacts to begin lobbying on behalf of special interests to make big money.
Already, everyone from local commissioners to Florida senators and representatives have joined lobbying firms that they know well because they lobbied the politico while they were in office. Sure smells like a conflict.
Although state law prohibits senators and representatives from lobbying their former colleagues directly, there are all sorts of workarounds like providing intelligence to the team that will be doing the legwork for a client with an issue before government. This provides a disproportionate advantage.
There’s something unseemly about former politicians who like to be thanked as much for their service as members of the military and first responders as they dash through the revolving door and cash in. That’s not self-sacrifice for the greater good. It’s biding their time as they exploit the position they once held.
The current law prohibits lobbying for two years. Florida will be banning former legislators from lobbying their former colleagues for six years, but the new law won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2023. It also will not do anything to stop former officials from lobbying levels of government above or below where they served.
The Florida six-year ban looks good on paper. But just having a former official in a lobbying firm’s corner office can give that firm a leg up. It’s all about influence.
Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida would be better served by banning former officials from being lobbyists, if not for life, then for at least a dozen or more years. In the county and in the state, the ban on lobbying should far exceed the proposed six-year limit.
It is nearly impossible to remove influence of a former lawmaker. The truth is that those with money and time eventually figure out how to get around existing rules. So we have to keep updating them and making them as strong as possible the first time. This six-year ban won’t get rid of inside influence, but it is better than what we have now.
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