Baker Passes Go, Collects $1 Million

Richard Baker is leaving Congress to cash in. Big time.

Baker Exits Congressional Turnstile to $1 Million Payday The dean of Louisiana’s congressional delegation, Rep. Richard Baker, has decided to step down from Congress after 22 years to take a lucrative job in the private sector representing investors he has spent a career regulating.

The announcement by the Baton Rouge Republican was not unexpected and makes him the third member of the state’s seven-member House delegation in the past two months to resign or announce plans to resign. Rep. Richard Baker has decided to step down from Congress after 22 years.

Baker, 59, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee will take the helm of the Managed Funds Association, the industry group that represents the $1.8 trillion hedge fund industry. As president and CEO, his salary and benefits package is expected to exceed $1 million a year.

“The reason the industry came to me was because of my work in the subject area,” Baker said in a morning interview with WJBO Radio in Baton Rouge. “I have put my life into developing considerable knowledge in this area.”

Baker said in an interview that he would step aside “no later than Feb. 6.” His new job starts the following day. It is possible that the election to fill Baker’s seat could be held March 8, the same day as the first party primary to fill the vacancy of former Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, who was inaugurated as governor Monday.

Those reacting to the piece at Memeorandum are mostly interested in the fact that this opens up yet another Republican seat in what looks to be a good year for Democrats. That a congressman cashing in on his Rolodex barely raises eyebrows shows how low expectations have gotten.

Baker is banned by federal law from directly lobbying his former colleagues during the six months after he leaves office, although there are plenty of loopholes that allow lobbying in all but name. One doesn’t want to unduly burden public service by denying people an ability making a living once they leave office. Still, going from a powerful committee position one day to running a company that you have been lobbying the next creates more than a wee bit of an appearance of conflict of interest.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    One doesn’t want to unduly burden public service by denying people an ability making a living once they leave office.

    Aren’t there job alternatives other than Congressman and lobbyist? Aren’t people who earn less than Congressmen (and a lot less than lobbyists) earning a living?

    Stuff like this supports the claim that the only reasons to seek elective office are money and power.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Aren’t there job alternatives other than Congressman and lobbyist? Aren’t people who earn less than Congressmen (and a lot less than lobbyists) earning a living?

    Sure. But people have a reasonable interest in earning as much money as they can from their skill sets. Two decades in Congress give a high degree of marketable public policy expertise and I don’t mind them cashing in on it. There ought to be some way to do that other than lobbying Congress, though.

  3. Boyd says:

    Well sure, I suppose he could probably sling burgers, but it’s more likely that he would take a job that’s someone related to the one he’s been doing for the past 22 years.

    While I hate to give a Congressman a break (especially one from a state with such a sterling reputation as Louisiana), it’s more complicated than you imply, Dave.

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    I have to go with Dave on this. There are other jobs available where the appearance of impropriety is avoided. Many professions have ethical standards where even that appearance is considered an ethical lapse. The problem is it damages the reputation of the profession.

    Congress needs to make that connection and tighten up the laws concerning lobbying by ex-members. Sometimes the integrity and reputation of the body is more important than the ex-members ability to make the big bucks. Those going in would know the restrictions and decide whether is worth it or not.

  5. The usual “plan B” for non-lobbyist Congresscritters of any repute is a sinecure as a political science professor or university president. Personally, I’d rather they go and become lobbyists, but maybe that’s my self-interest speaking 🙂

  6. Triumph says:

    Related Stories:

    ….
    o Cubs Pitcher Instructed to Limit Computer Time

    Could you tell me how a two year old story about Carlos Zambrano’s elbow is “related” to a retiring Congressman?

  7. James Joyner says:

    Could you tell me how a two year old story about Carlos Zambrano’s elbow is “related” to a retiring Congressman?

    I don’t write the software! It’s based on keywords, though, and I don’t see much overlap. A weird one, especially since there a tons of Congress posts on OTB.

  8. Triumph says:

    It’s based on keywords, though, and I don’t see much overlap.

    Ahh..that makes sense. The Zambrano story quotes Dusty Baker, the former Cubs manager.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that people should have a right to try to make as much money as they care to or, as James put it, “as they can with their skill sets”. Just not in the public sector or leveraging the contacts they made in the public sector into a cushy job getting a paycheck he probably couldn’t have earned without his Congressional experience.

    That’s not just the appearance of impropriety it’s actually improper just as my interviewing with other companies during company time while taking a paycheck from my current employer would be improper.

    If this is what retired Congressman do what, precisely, is the argument in favor of pensions for retired Congressmen?