Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ex-Sen. Ben Nelson Cashes in on his Obamacare Vote

Timothy Carney reports:
Sen. Ben Nelson delivered a crucial vote to pass Obamacare into law in 2009, and now he is cashing out of the Senate to make money off the organizations that benefitted from the legislation.

Nelson's trip through the revolving door demonstrates an important truth about Washington's influence industry: The revolving door rewards lawmakers for further entangling business and government, whether through regulations, subsidies or mandates.

Nelson represented the conservative state of Nebraska for two terms in the U.S. Senate. Voting for Obamacare in 2009 and 2010 sealed Nelson's fate in the 2012 elections, and so he decided not to run again. Nelson's last day as a senator was Jan. 3, and on Jan. 22 he announced he had taken two jobs on K Street.

Agenda Global is a new, self-described public affairs and advocacy firm headquartered on Capitol Hill. Former lobbyist Craig Pattee, who had founded a firm with Nelson back in 1994, launched Agenda this past summer. Pattee says Agenda doesn't lobby per se but concentrates on "building grassroots coalitions" to pressure lawmakers to support the policies that help Agenda's clients. "The backroom deal is dead," he tells me.

Last week, Agenda announced it was hiring Nelson and former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer (Pattee's old boss) as "senior advisers."

"Both are recognized for leadership on agriculture and biotech matters," the firm boasted on its announcement. How did Nelson "lead" on ag and biotech? Mostly by pushing federal subsidies.[...]

Nelson's second K Street job, CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, might not even exist without Obamacare.

The NAIC is not an industry lobby. It is the trade group and lobbying association for state insurance regulators.

Obamacare mentions the NAIC 18 times. Again and again, the law requires the secretary of health and human services to consult the NAIC in developing federal health insurance standards. Some provisions of the law basically delegate regulatory power to the NAIC.

Now, with Ben Nelson on the payroll, the NAIC can be even more confident it will get its wishes.
Read Carney's full report, here.

1 comment:

  1. Another spin of the revolving door:

    Multimedia giant Tribune Co. has tapped a former Federal Communications Commission chief of staff to become its general counsel, the company said Tuesday.

    Edward Lazarus, who was named the company's executive vice president general counsel, most recently served as chief of staff to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, where he oversaw policy development and implementation, strategic planning and agency management — a job Tribune said will prove invaluable in his new duties with the company.

    From Law360