Pols-Turned-Lobbyists Use Campaign Cash to Curry Favor

Turn donations into 'political slush fund'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2009 9:21 AM CDT
Then-Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., answers a reporter's question, Sept. 26, 2008. McCrey left Congress this year for a job with a lobbying firm, and promptly doled out $70,500 to various campaigns.   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

(Newser) – When congressmen leave Capitol Hill for lobbying jobs, they take their unused campaign funds with them, then dole them out to other lawmakers to influence policy, USA Today reports. Such donations are legal—federal law permits ex-congressmen to keep campaign accounts active, donating the money to candidates, parties, and charities—but critics call the accounts unsavory “political slush funds.”

Former Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery, for example, left Congress this year for a gig with a lobbying firm, and has already handed out $70,500 to various other Republicans who oversee tax and health care policy—his areas of specialty. People at these firms “are expected to give campaign contributions,” he says, and the leftover cash “gives you a leg up, to the extent that you don’t have to take it out of your own income.”