Earl Pomeroy Found Lobbying Loophole To Cash In After Election Defeat

In early 2010, Rep. Earl Pomeroy voted to pass Obamacare enraging his constituents. He subsequently spent the rest of the 2010 election cycle distancing himself from his vote, but the moment he was soundly defeated at the polls he immediately fled to the lobbying industry, focusing specifically on lobbying on behalf of health care interests.

But how is it that Pomeroy can be in the lobbying game so quickly after getting defeated at the polls? After all, Congress passed laws requiring a “cool down” period between when a member of Congress leaves office and begins lobbying Congress. But Pomeroy has found a loophole. He uses his former aide, Bob Siggins, as a front for his lobbying of Congress:

Typically, retired lawmakers sit on the sidelines for a year before signing on corporate lobbying clients, but Mr. Pomeroy’s leap was unusually swift. Of the 30 or so members who left Congress along with him and joined law firms, consulting firms, businesses or trade associations that lobby Congress, only five had formally registered as lobbyists as of mid-July, according to a New York Times review of lobbying records. That short list includes Mr. Pomeroy, and the former representatives Steve Buyer, Republican of Indiana, and Walt Minnick, Democrat of Idaho, each of whom has moved to a lobbying practice in unison with his former chief of staff.

Mr. Pomeroy defended the practice, saying his work with his longtime aide complies with the law.

“The rules are the rules, and I follow the rules closely,” Mr. Pomeroy said in an interview, adding that Mr. Siggins contacts players on Capitol Hill, while he focuses exclusively on the Obama administration.

The New York Times reports that Pomeroy has “found a loophole to help him get another job not too far from his old office.”

“House members are banned from lobbying for one year after leaving office (Mr. Pomeroy’s term ended in January), but the Democrat has teamed up with his former chief of staff, who is not subject to the restriction, as a lobbying partner,” reports the Times.

The Times also reports that many of the companies Pomeroy is now lobbying for had relationships with him even while he was in Congress:

Mr. Pomeroy’s first major client was the Select Medical Corporation, a Pennsylvania-based company that is one of the nation’s largest operators of so-called long-term acute-care hospitals. While in Congress, Mr. Pomeroy helped defend the company and other industry players against penalties the Bush and Obama administrations sought to impose to try to curtail the explosive growth of these hospitals. Select now has 110 of these long-term hospitals in 28 states. …

The alliance between Mr. Pomeroy and Select and other acute care hospitals began several years before he left office, and starting back in 2006, he served as one of the the industry’s most important champions…

You can follow Pomeroy’s timeline, from being Select Medical Corporation’s man in Congress to taking a golden parachute into a gig as Select Medical Corporation’s lobbyist, here.

This is the very definition of the “revolving door” problem and exemplifies everything that’s wrong in Washington DC. As a practical matter, for North Dakotans it says that the rumors about Pomeroy possibly running for office here again are more than likely false.

It’s hard to imagine somebody who this quickly cashed in on his time in Congress, and in such an ethically dubious way, ever getting elected in North Dakota again.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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