Joshua Rosenstein Discusses Jeb Bush’s Proposal to Extend the Revolving Door Ban with Open Secrets

Joshua Rosenstein was quoted in an Open Secrets article about Jeb Bush’s call for a six-year ban on lobbying for former lawmakers:

When it comes to a revolving door ban, the key is what it restricts, according to Joshua Rosenstein, a Washington, D.C. lawyer and expert on lobbying. If they want to, for instance, former members can structure their new careers so that they don’t have to register as lobbyists by spending less than 20 percent of their time per quarter working on lobbying-related activity.

Often, when former lawmakers do that, they’re “selling their Rolodex,” Rosenstein said. Per quarter, “they can make several very important contacts to former colleagues…for which the client would be very grateful,” he said. Then the former lawmakers simply wait for the day they’re eligible to lobby.

It’s unclear from Bush’s speech how he himself defines lobbyist or lobbying activity, but to have a no-contact rule for 6 years–so that all advocacy contact by former members of Congress would be banned–would be substantive, Rosenstein said.

“What’s unclear is whether Jeb’s proposal means to extend the current precise ban to six years, or instead ban Members from becoming lobbyists for six years. And that makes a difference,” he said. “If it’s a ban on advocacy contacts, that’s a stronger prohibition than merely a prohibition on becoming a registered lobbyist.”

“Congress will normally revamp a lobbyist regulation scheme in the wake of a scandal involving lobbyists,” Rosenstein said of the likelihood of passing a lobbying regulation bill. “Absent that, it’s probably hard to do, as a practical matter.”

The entire article can be viewed here.