Earlier this year, journalist Lee Fang and I talked to Rep. Health Shuler (D-NC), a leading pro-corporate, Blue Dog Democrat, about his plans following his retirement from Congress this year.
We explicitly asked him if he would consider becoming a lobbyist or some other kind of influence peddler. He told us no. Then he insulted us by telling us he’d get a better job than we had:
FANG: [There are press reports that] you’re already negotiating for a lobby job…
SHULER: (laughs) No. I’m going home with my wife.
FANG: You’re not negotiating with the Majority Group or any of these other lobbying firms on K Street?
SHULER: No, you read it wrong buddy. [...]
FANG: Are you planning on becoming a lobbyist?
SHULER: No! [...]
JILANI: What do you plan to do after you retire?
SHULER: Have a better job than you have, that’s for sure.
Watch the video:
Note that it would be illegal for Shuler to actually register as a lobbyist, because federal law requires a cooling down period before members of the House can become registered lobbyists. But he will still be able to influence peddle without registration, much like Newt Gingrich and others have done.
As a leader in the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, Shuler has been positioning himself for months to push for a debt deal that includes cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits and a lowering of the corporate tax rate that big corporations are seeking. Recall that Duke Energy paid a negative 3.8 percent tax rate between 2008 and 2010 — with Shuler already accepting this new position before even leaving Congress, he can continue to work on the company’s behalf to make sure it dodges federal taxes.