Baker Passes Go, Collects $1 Million
Richard Baker is leaving Congress to cash in. Big time.
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.