The Revolving Door Spins Again: LaHood Joins DLA Piper

When former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced earlier this month that he was going to co-chair Building America’s Future, I thought, “well that seems like a good place for him, but it’s not going to make his wife happy.” Mrs. LaHood has famously been needling him for years to get out of public office and make some money in the private sector.

Former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood will now be a lobbyist policy adviser at one of the biggest law firms in the world. Photo: ##http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/srnqi9kOP5E/Ray+LaHood+Testifies+Before+Senate+Banking/2g3rP4Jct3S/Ray+LaHood##Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images##

Looks like he’s getting right on that. He announced this week that he’s got a second gig lined up — this time, as a senior adviser at DLA Piper, one of the 10 largest law firms in the world. The firm doesn’t do much lobbying on transportation, though over the last few years it’s done $630,000 worth of business with Northeast MAGLEV, a Japanese-backed company that wants to build high-speed magnetic levitation trains on the Northeast Corridor.

Despite his abiding interest in high-speed rail, LaHood will not, apparently, be lobbying his former U.S. DOT colleagues on Northeast MAGLEV’s behalf, since revolving door rules prevent such a thing — though technically, he can lobby his old colleagues in Congress any time he wants.

A spokesperson for LaHood has made it clear that as a policy adviser, lobbying won’t be in his job description.

James Hood at Consumer Affairs rolls his eyes at this, saying President Obama’s ethics rules leave too much room for government officials to use position titles like “lawyer” and “policy adviser” to do lobbying that would otherwise be banned. “You can, in other words, make a big show of closing the front door but it doesn’t do much good if the side door remains wide open,” Hood said.

Joan DeBoer, LaHood’s chief of staff at U.S. DOT, is making the move with him.

NHTSA chief David Strickland is also taking advantage of the revolving door, landing a plum job at Venable, LLP, a lobbying law firm that deals with auto regulation.

  • Mike Mills

    What is wrong with entrepreneurship? Guys got to make a buck.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

How Will the Next Transpo Secretary Build on Ray LaHood’s Legacy?

|
He strung it out long enough, but Ray LaHood has finally announced that he’s resigning as Transportation Secretary. Speculation has been rampant for months about who could replace him, and now it kicks into high gear. Matt Yglesias captured the sentiments of many transportation advocates when he tweeted yesterday, “Ray LaHood was a surprisingly good DOT […]

Same.gov: A Transportation Secretary Who’s Hard to Believe In

|
On Monday, Obama announced his "green dream team." Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wasn’t there. We’ve been calling around to Congressional staffers, advocates and insiders to get a better sense of what Obama’s appointment of Ray LaHood as transportation secretary means for those pushing for sustainable transport, smart growth, livable streets. While no one is giving […]

Sparks Fly as Lawmaker Grills LaHood on Columbia River Crossing Transit

|
From the beginning of today’s hearing, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee made it clear they weren’t going to let Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s last appearance before them be an easy one. While the hearing’s purpose was to examine the department’s budget request, the tough questions LaHood fielded on the budget were nothing compared to […]

LaHood Talks Budget: “Very Bright” Future for Infrastructure Fund

|
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that he sees "very bright" prospects for congressional approval of the Obama administration’s $4 billion National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund, the new iteration of the long-discussed National Infrastructure Bank proposal. Transportation Secretary LaHood, at left, with the president. (Photo: NYT) "There is a great deal of interest in […]