Monday, April 8, 2013

Sen. Baucus and his "sizeable constellation" of former aides-turned-lobbyists

Posted By on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 11:40 AM

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This is not necessarily new news: Sen. Max Baucus has a ton of former aides now working as lobbyists. If you follow the senior senator from Montana, you know about his network of past employees hovering in and around D.C. — most notably, former Baucus chief of staff Jim Messina, who went on to work in President Obama's White House and run the last presidential campaign.

The New York Times delved into the Baucus lobbyist tree since the senator is preparing to rewrite the nation's tax code. That formidable task makes Baucus a popular man, as well as lobbyists with ties to him. Eric Lipton writes:

No other lawmaker on Capitol Hill has such a sizable constellation of former aides working as tax lobbyists, representing blue-chip clients that include telecommunications businesses, oil companies, retailers and financial firms, according to an analysis by LegiStorm, an online database that tracks Congressional staff members and lobbying. At least 28 aides who have worked for Mr. Baucus, Democrat of Montana, since he became the committee chairman in 2001 have lobbied on tax issues during the Obama administration — more than any other current member of Congress, according to the analysis of lobbying filings performed for The New York Times.

That's the story in a nutshell, with a Baucus spokesman denying any unseemly influence. Fair enough, but it doesn't diminish the intriguing details of how the sausage gets made. For instance, the Times says several lobbyists "regularly" fly to Big Sky for weekend fundraising retreats hosted by Baucus. A Times reporter was kicked out of a recent event, but not before gathering some details.

Among them, the top givers include Jeffrey A. Forbes, Mr. Baucus’s former Finance Committee staff director, who has donated a total of at least $25,000 to Mr. Baucus, his political action committee or the Montana Democratic Party. He attended the retreat in February at the Big Sky resort, which included skiing, snowmobiling and a big family dinner at Buck’s T-4 Lodge. The totals grow much bigger — to hundreds of thousands of dollars — when donations from Mr. Forbes’s clients, including Verizon and Altria, and other partners at his lobbying firm, are counted.

Ezra Klein at the Washington Post chimed in with some analysis of Lipton's piece.

But if a visual representation of this Baucus network is more to your liking, Muckety created an interactive map to track all 28 lobbyists. It's big, and if you click around it gets even bigger.

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