GOP Speaker-elect Boehner hires lobbyist as policy director
He ‘reflects the will of the people we serve’
House Republican leader John Boehner has tapped a top medical industry lobbyist to be his policy director when he takes the reins as speaker in January.
The lobbyist, Brett Loper, is the senior executive vice president of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a pharmaceutical and health products industry, which lobbied in opposition to Democrats’ health care reform legislation.
“I’m very pleased Brett will be joining our team,” Boehner said Thursday in a statement, according to Politico. “There are few people who are better equipped to help our new majority change the way the House works and advance a new governing agenda that reflects the will of the people we serve.”
Staffing up Congressional offices with K Street employees is hardly unusual for Republicans or Democrats, and reflects a revolving-door trend that critics say causes lawmakers to be unduly influenced by narrow but powerful interests.
The move may be in keeping with a longstanding tradition on Capitol Hill, but the specter of the most powerful member of the House seeking legislative counsel from an industry lobbyist is ripe for allegations of corruption.
Former lobbyists who become staffers in Congress are known to often use their clout to adjust or manipulate legislation in ways that help their former employers.
“The public thinks that they’re electing a radically new Congress,” Bill Allison of the transparency group Sunlight Foundation told Politico. “And the freshmen may change but the people with power in Washington are always the same.”
Loper’s group, AMTA, made nearly $300,000 in political expenditures during the 2010 election cycle, according to the Center For Responsive Politics. Fifty-one percent of the donations were to Democrats; 49 to Republicans.