Matt Taibbi on an Outrageous Example of the "Revolving Door" Between Regulators and Top Lobbyists

The revolving door between the lobbying and regulation worlds is nothing new, but there's a particularly egregious example from the pharmaceutical industry that flew under the radar recently. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi draws our attention to it:

While America focused on New Hampshire, a classic example of revolving-door politics took place in Washington, going almost completely unnoticed. It’s a move that ranks up there with the hire of Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin to head the pharmaceutical lobbying conglomerate PhRMA -- at a salary of over $2 million a year -- immediately after Tauzin helped ram through the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, a huge handout to the pharmaceutical industry.

In this case, the hire involves Walter Lukken, who toward the end of the Bush years was the acting head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As the chief regulator of the commodities markets, it was Lukken’s job to spot and combat speculative abuses and manipulations that might have led to artificial price hikes and other disruptions.

As Taibbi notes, Lukken helped the financial industry avoid regulations in his role at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. And what did he get in return?

Well, Lukken has just been named to head the Futures Industry Association, or FIA, the chief lobbying arm of futures investors.

This follows the Tauzin pattern of revolving-door hires: a government official carries water for a powerful industry, then moves on to take the cushy job with the industry’s lobbying arm once he leaves office....

Mike Masters is head of the Masters Capital Management hedge fund and also chairman of Better Markets, a new non-profit advocacy group that promotes the public interest in the labyrinthine vagaries of the financial markets, and especially the commodities markets. He describes the hiring of Lukken as an extreme example of revolving-door politics.

“It’s not the revolving door. It’s the express elevator,” he says.

Read Taibbi's entire article here.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 12, 2012, 5:06am