Just How Many Newt Gingrich's Are There on K Street? Estimating the True Size and Shape of Washington's Revolving Door
19 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 2, 2013
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s choice not to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) for his “historical advice” to Freddie Mac was a controversy in the 2012 Republican primary. The practice of carefully crafting policy advocacy activities to avoid triggering disclosure requirements is commonly referred to as the "Daschle exception" after the former Senate Majority Leader became a leading “strategic adviser” to one of Washington’s biggest lobbying firms. In this paper we ask: how many professionals are engaged in policy advocacy, and how common is it for them to have worked in the federal government? We assume that high-profile cases of Daschle and Gingrich are not isolated, so we seek to account for lobbying and policy advocacy in as large an empirical scope as possible. Using a new data set of professional biographies of both registered lobbyists and unregistered policy advocates, we estimate that there are more professionals engaged in influencing public policy "under the radar" than there are who are transparent about their clients and activities, implying that lobbying disclosure reports provide only a partial view of policy influence in Washington. We also find that, unlike Gingrich and Daschle, unregistered policy advocates are less likely to have gone through the revolving door and are more likely to be general political process experts rather than institutional specialists.
Keywords: lobbying, revolving door, interest groups, Lobbying Disclosure Act, policy advocacy
JEL Classification: H1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation