HIGHTOWER: Ex-Senators Become Lobbyists
Old senators never die, they just become lobbyists.Take Dennis DeConcini and Steve Symms -- please!You remember DeConcini, the Arizona Democrat who was one of the infamous Keating Five. A couple of years ago, having been reprimanded by the Senate ethics committee for his role in the S&L scandal, DeConcini left office, but he still hasn't left the Senate.Today, you can find him walking those same corridors of power, still huddling with other senators in private conversations, still using the Senate gym and eating in the senators' dining room -- and still going onto the Senate floor whenever he wants. But now, instead of wearing a senator's suit, he wears a lobbyist's suit, using the privileges of an ex-senator to get access to his former colleagues. The only difference is that since he became a lobbyist, he can afford a much nicer suit -- you see, corporations will pay a pretty penny for the services of someone willing to trade-on his past connections, as Dennis is.To continue giving him that "senatorial aura," DeConcini even uses letterhead that bears a facsimile of the official Senate seal and his name: "The Honorable Dennis DeConcini." Honorable?Now meet, Steve Symms. This Idaho Republican was not much of a senator, and his lobbying work is even less distinguished. It's not just that he is using his senatorial contacts to line his own pocket, but that he is doing so for the likes of Nigeria's brutal military dictators. He's taking $25,000-a-month to lobby for these bloodthirsty thugs -- and Symms is actually bragging that he is one of the few lobbyists who could take such a sleazy client because, as an ex-senator, he can get his phone calls returned.DeConcini and Symms -- two good reasons to outlaw lobbying by ex-members of Congress.