Earlier this week, we broke the news that a high level economics policy staffer from Senator Jim Tester’s office had taken a position with a Democratic lobbying firm that does a lot of work for banks.
We described it as an example of “The Blob” in action. The Blob, you may recall, is the name used on Capitol Hill to describe the close-knit circle of staffers associated with the Senate Banking Committee, on which Tester sits, and former staffers who have moved on to work for banks and lobbying firms.
We also used the phrase “revolving door” in our headline.
Well, a spokesman for Tester says that the phrase “revolving door” is misleading. Tester has a strict policy that staffers who go to work for lobbying firms can never come back to work for him. What’s more, they are not allowed to lobby him directly.
“As far as we’re concerned the door to lobbying only goes one way: out,” the spokesman said.
Of course, this is largely irrelevant. Of course former staffers don’t come back to work as Hill staffers again. The money is too good as a banker or lobbyist. We cannot imagine why anyone would move in that direction.
It’s also irrelevant whether former staffers can lobby Tester. Their real point of influence is not the connection to a single Senator but to the staffs of numerous Senators who sit on the banking committee. No one is paying the lobbyists big bucks just because they have Tester’s ear.