Sixty-four of the members of the last Congress resigned, retired, were defeated or are now sitting in jail. As last Sunday's Doonesbury cartoon points out, many of them are on their way to fulfilling the grand Washington tradition of hiring themselves out as lobbyists to lean on their former colleagues. What often flies below the radar, however, are the huge number of congressional staffers who take the opportunity of their bosses leaving to join the lobbying corps themselves. They are prized by K Street not just for their insider knowledge of how Congress works, but also for the extensive contacts they still have with their former coworkers (and subordinates).
Now it's time to drag them into the sunshine. The Sunlight Foundation, CMD's partner in the Congresspedia project, has developed a cool distributed research tool to marry citizen brain power with a fancy new database to figure out who exactly is hiring these insiders, and they want you to participate. Like our other featured participatory projects, many hands can make this formerly daunting task light work.
Once the results are in, the CMD staff will work with the participants to get the results entered into the SourceWatch profiles of the corporations and lobbyists, ensuring that professional reporters and citizen journalists alike will be able to use the information to perform some high-caliber muckraking on the DC influence scene. Even Craigslist's Craig Newmark is participating because, as he says, "This is the 'revolving door' thing, of concern since some staffers, working for shadowy politicians, might do more damage as lobbyists."
Everything you need to know at Sunlight's website. Have fun, and we'll report back soon with the results!