By James Kwak
The revolving door between business and government is something that Simon and I have criticized, most recently in a book you may have heard us mention once or twice. Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post reports that Barney Frank, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has sent a message that he is serious about blocking the revolving door.
Peter Roberson was a lobbyist for the Bond Market Association (now part of SIFMA, a big securities industry lobbying organization) from 2000 to 2006 before becoming a staff member for Frank’s committee, where he was recently working on derivatives legislation. When Frank found out he was in discussions with ICE (presumably, the exchange), it sounds like Frank fired him and blocked him from lobbying the committee so long as he is chair:
“Several people have expressed criticism of the move by Peter Roberson from the staff of the Financial Services Committee to ICE, after he worked on the legislation relevant to derivatives. I completely agree with that criticism. When Mr. Roberson was hired, it never occurred to me that he would jump so quickly from the Committee staff to an industry that was being affected by the Committee’s legislation. When he called me to tell me that he was in conversations with them, I told him that I was disappointed and that I insisted that he take no further action as a member of the Committee staff. I then called the Staff Director and instructed her to remove him from the payroll and provide him only such compensation as is already owed.”
Now, it is well understood that one of the main reasons to work for a committee like Financial Services is precisely because it enables you to get better paying jobs in industry later. So I don’t know if it’s possible to block the revolving door completely. But this seems like a step in the right direction.