Senator Who Became Lobbyist Who Became Senator Becomes Lobbyist

I’m baaaack!
Photo: Getty

Jon Kyl has been back and forth between K Street and the Capitol more than a DC Uber driver during the weekday lunch hour. After leaving the Senate in 2013 and heading straight to the massive law and lobbying firm Covington & Burling—also home to Obama Attorney General Eric Holder—Kyl headed back to the Senate back in September to fill John McCain’s seat after his death. Now, after Kyl resigned and was replaced by Martha McSally—who lost her own race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema—where’s he going? Back to Covington & Burling, of course. Two stints as a senator, two stints as a lobbyist. Ol’ Jonny Four-Jobs.

There’s probably unclaimed lunches in the Covington fridges that have been there since before his little sabbatical in the Senate. It is bizarre, and very bad, to have senators skip so effortlessly between lobbying gigs, representing corporations that can shell out the big bucks, and ostensibly representing the people, who cannot. Speaking of those big bucks: Kyl was paid almost $2 million in the last two years at Covington, which makes his few months at the rate of the Senate’s annual $174,000 salary seem desperate by comparison. I hope someone set up a GoFundMe!

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In those short months, Kyl managed to snag himself a great gig as the bastard in charge of getting Brett Kavanaugh nominated (a job that’s also shrouded in some suspicious dark money fuckery.) I am sure his success there will have no impact on whether firms who might win favorable decisions under this Supreme Court might pay his firm for strategic counseling. As The Intercept’s David Dayen wrote in December, Kyl’s “entire term of office seems like a calculated attempt to refresh his contacts and gain clout from the inside, only to spin back out to influence the institution.”

Kyl can’t officially lobby for two years after leaving office, but he’s going to work at the firm anyway, and will “focus on matters of policy and strategy for the firm’s clients,” according to the firm’s announcement. This is what’s known as shadow lobbying: working to influence public policy in ways that aren’t covered by lobbying rules, which is a very popular and lucrative line of work for ex-elected officials.

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Libby Watson

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com