Trent Lott Resigning

Trent Lott is resigning mid-term, reportedly in order to get out ahead of more restrictive ethics laws.

MSNBC:

Trent Lott Resigning Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file The sudden departure of Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., may be linked to a new post-Senate career lobbying law that takes effect at the end of the year. NBC News has learned that Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., the minority whip is in the midst of informing close allies that he plans to resign his senate seat before the end of the year. It’s possible a formal announcement of his plans could take place as early as today.

Lott’s office initially denied that he he would step down, but subsequent requests for information about his plans went unanswered.

While the exactly reason Lott is stepping down before he finishes his term is unknown, the general speculation is that a quick departure immunizes Lott against tougher restrictions in a new lobbying law that takes effect at the end of the year. That law would require Senators to wait two-years before entering the lucrative world of lobbying Congress.

Martin Kady II and Josh Kraushaar for The Politico:

The announcement took Capitol Hill by surprise because Lott, the former majority leader, seemed to be relishing his job as minority whip, the second-ranking GOP leadership job. He had regained a post in leadership after he resigned following racially insensitive remarks at a birthday party for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).

Lott’s departure opens up a position within Republican leadership, and there could be a fight to replace him. Lamar Alexander, who ran for the position last year, would be a natural candidate, but there are plenty of GOP up-and-comers who could compete for the slot, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who are part of the current leadership team and could be looking for a promotion to the no. 2 spot in the hierarchy.

Lott would become the sixth Republican senator to announce plans to step down this election cycle. His term expires in 2012; and a resignation would prompt a special election to fill the remainder of his term.

[…]

A Republican adviser close to Lott said: “He’s ready to move on. It’s that simple. He only stayed to help through the Hurricane Katrina recovery, and Mississippi is doing well.” Lott lost a beloved house in the hurricane.

AP’s Jack Elliot:

No reason for Lott’s resignation was given, but according to a congressional official, there is nothing amiss with Lott’s health. The senator has “other opportunities” he plans to pursue, the official said, without elaborating. Lott was re-elected to a fourth Senate term in 2006.

One hopes that Lott’s health is indeed fine. Resigning in order to pursue a career as a lobbyist, though, would further tarnish his public image. Elections are expensive, wrenching events and create an obligation to serve out the term. It’s considered kosher to leave early to pursue higher elective office, since it ostensibly allows the candidate to better serve his constituents, but doing so for private financial gain is rather unseemly.

Via Memeorandum, which is quickly collecting other blogger reactions.

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. “Resigning in order to pursue a career as a lobbyist, though, would further tarnish his public image.” I’m somehow reminded of Zeno’s paradox here.

    To my mind, the time to quit would have been after Stromgate; he would easily have won the governorship in 2003.

  2. Anderson says:

    To my mind, the time to quit would have been after Stromgate; he would easily have won the governorship in 2003.

    Leaving aside why anyone would prefer being Mississippi’s governor to Mississippi’s senator.

  3. Anderson says:

    We in the office have now worked out that the real motive for Lott’s resignation is so that he can become the new head coach at Ole Miss.

    Remember, you read it here first!

  4. Eneils Bailey says:

    As a conservative,
    Good Riddance…
    We have a few more faux conservatives to dispense with.
    Look out Lindsey….
    Give it up McCain…
    etc..etc…

    With people like this, we have a conservative movement in name only…

    The answer is not leaving the cause and punishing individuals with a vote against the movement, it is about selecting the appropriate people to represent you.

  5. Anderson says:

    Lott was a “faux conservative”?

    (1) Do real conservatives say “faux”?

    (2) How the heck was Lott insufficiently conservative?

  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    (1) Do real conservatives say “faux”?

    And yes, we can sometimes incorporate the liberal vocabulary, such as “asshole,” “jerk-off,” and “Shit-for-brains.”

  7. davod says:

    I heard on the radio that the timing of his resignation might be related the timing of a new law related to restricting the lobbying abilities of retiring politicians.

  8. JKB says:

    Just wild speculation but I wonder if the Senator is about to get tangled up in USA v Scruggs, where is brother-in-law is under indictment for criminal contempt of court over Katrina lawsuits. The case has already tangled up the MS AG, with hints of using that office to extort State Farm to settle cases. Lott did make threats to use his office to go after the insurance companies?

    Still it’s just speculation

  9. Eneils Bailey says:

    davod,

    Heard that too.
    I think he resigned so that he could come back to Washington and be able to be a paid political lobbyist. I think there was a moritorium placed upon members of Congress that they could not be paid Congressional lobbyist’s after a certain date.
    Too bad this scoundrel did not see fit to serve his constituency with the same zeal and dedication.

    A conservative he is not, a self-serving, egotistical, money-grumbling, politically-pussy-whipped-politician he is.

  10. Anderson may not be too far off if university head honcho Robert Khayat gets the boot from Ole Miss. Said Dickie Scruggs is a big Ole Miss booster (that’s what he does with the money he got from his contingency fees from old college roommate and ex-AG and likely Lott replacement Mike Moore’s tobacco company lawsuit).

  11. Anderson says:

    If Ole Miss’s rabid alumni boot an excellent chancellor like Khayat over the Orgeron mess, they are crazier than I thought.

    Scruggs should anoint himself the new head coach if he thinks it’s so easy. If not, he should quit badmouthing Khayat.

  12. Grewgills says:

    davod and eneils,
    Did you read the post or just the headline?
    James opens with

    Trent Lott is resigning mid-term, reportedly in order to get out ahead of more restrictive ethics laws.

    and follows it with this from MSNBC,

    While the exactly reason Lott is stepping down before he finishes his term is unknown, the general speculation is that a quick departure immunizes Lott against tougher restrictions in a new lobbying law that takes effect at the end of the year. That law would require Senators to wait two-years before entering the lucrative world of lobbying Congress.

  13. NoZe says:

    Like James, I’m troubled by pols resigning so soon after being elected. Lott was reelected in 2006, and when he decided to run he likely thought the GOP would remain in the majority. To step down suggests to me that he’s willing to serve the people of Mississippi so long as he gets to be in the majority and wield a lot of power, but not if he has to be in the minority. Gingrich and Hastert did much the same thing…”if I can’t be Speaker, I don’t want to serve!” Makes you wonder what their motivations for serving really are…

  14. JC says:

    Yeah, it’s about the new lobbying laws. Right.

    Wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain investigation by Mr. Larry Flynt, or a young man named Benjamin Nicholas, would it?