Washington, D.C. — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections and campaign finance law, and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced legislation to ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists, increasing transparency and accountability in Washington and shutting the revolving door of influence in Washington. More than 460 former members of Congress are currently employed by lobbying firms, according to research from the Center for Responsive Politics.
“Members of Congress should spend their time in Washington representing the American people and not auditioning for high-paying lobbying jobs,” said Bennet. “By banning members of Congress from lobbying when they leave office, we can begin to restore the American people’s faith in our government.”
“I came to the Senate to fight for working families and defend our Montana way of life, and I don’t think any Member of Congress should cash out on the privilege of public service,” said Tester. “It’s past time that we slam shut the revolving door that has allowed too many folks in Washington to use their elected office as a stepping stone toward high-paying lobbying jobs for special interests, instead of advocating for the people they represent. I’m calling on my colleagues to join me in supporting this commonsense legislation to bring the level of transparency and accountability to Congress that Montanans and Americans deserve.”
Specifically, the Close the Revolving Door Act would:
- Increase the statutory staff restrictions on lobbying from one year to six years;
- Bans lobbyists from working for Members of Congress and Committees with whom they had a substantial lobbying contact for a period of six years;
- Require lobbying firms to file with Congress a list of any employee who provides paid consulting services who is:
- A former Senator or Representative; or
- A former congressional staff member who made at least $100,000 in any one year; worked for a total of four years or more as a congressional staff member; or held a senior staff position in Congress.
- Create a website entitled “lobbyists.gov” that will provide easily searchable disclosures on lobbying activities; and
- Increases penalties for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act from $200,000 to $500,000.
“Too many members of Congress and their staff have abused public office by treating it as a launching pad for their next high-paying job. This culture is deeply embedded and normalized in Washington–and it is ripe for corruption,” said Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund. “The Close the Revolving Door Act is commonsense legislation aimed at ending this practice so that members of Congress and their staff stay focused on doing the people’s work. We applaud Senator Tester and Senator Bennet for their continued leadership on making government work for regular people.”
“Public Citizen applauds Senator Tester and Senator Bennet for their introduction of the Close the Revolving Door Act,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President of Public Citizen. “The outsized influence of lobbyists is a problem that must be dealt with, and this bold legislation gets right to the heart of the revolving door and transparency limitations of our current influence-peddling laden system. With this legislation in place, Senators and their staff will no longer be able to trade on their former connections and access to push priorities for clients, and the public will have a clearer picture of the lobbying landscape.”
This legislation is also supported by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Bennet is a leading advocate for restoring trust in our elections and government. Earlier this month, Bennet joined every other Senate Democrat to introduce the Freedom to Vote Act to improve Americans’ access to the ballot, invest in state election infrastructure, strengthen campaign finance disclosure requirements, and ensure elections are free from interference. In February, Bennet joined colleagues to reintroduce the DISCLOSE Act to strengthen disclosure requirements for organizations spending money in elections. In 2021, he introduced the ZOMBIE Act to require politicians no longer running for office to close their old campaign accounts. In 2019, he introduced a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United by restoring authority to Congress, states, and the American people to regulate campaign finance.
The text of the bill is available HERE.