New lobbying tracker makes it easier to follow the revolving door



In 13 days, Kyle Simmons, former chief of staff to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and currently a member of the FIRST Group–a Washington consulting firm he launched with three other former congressional aides–will be eligible to lobby his old colleagues.

In 11 days, Robert McCreary, former chief of staff to Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and currently a registered lobbyist for NEK Advanced Security Group, will legally be able to lobby his former colleagues on behalf of his new employer.

In 10 days, Andy Weis, a former general counsel of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs who "played a major role in developing most of the nation’s homeland security laws since 2004," according to his new employer, the Civitas Group, which provides strategic advice to security firms, will be eligible to lobby his former colleagues.

Today is February 2, 2011; do you know who is eligible to lobby former congressional colleagues today?

Congressional rules bar former members and high-ranking staffers from lobbying their old colleagues for a period of time–one year for former House members and House and Senate staffers and two years for former Senators. Both the House and Senate make available online lists of these officials, complete with their names, former bosses or positions, severance date and date of lobbying eligibility. The Sunlight Reporting Group has combined the lists and made them available in an easy-to-explore format in our Post Employment Tracker, the latest addition to our Lobbying Tracker tools. Not every former official becomes a lobbyist, but many who don't register continue to wield influence in Washington.

Like Rob Collins.

In February 2010, with the unemployment rate running at 10.4 percent and economic prospects looking grim for most Americans, Rob Collins gave up his position in the office of then-Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. He didn't stay unemployed for long.

Collins found work heading up the American Action Network, a 501c4 political organization that reported spending $19.1 million to influence races in the 2010 mid-term elections, generally by running ads that criticized Democratic incumbents. American Action Network, which does not disclose its donors, shares office space with American Crossroads–the group tied to Karl Rove that was also active in the 2010 mid-terms on behalf of Republicans–has five former members of Congress and five registered lobbyists on its board. Collins, the organization's president, has not registered to lobby, though as of Feb. 2, 2011, he can legally contact his old colleagues on the Hill. Follow our Lobbying Registration Tracker to check for new registrations.

Some former staffers move from Capitol Hill to the Executive Branch. Lisa Plevin, formerly an aide to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, left the Senate to be chief of staff to an Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator. And Tom Stallings, who had been chief of staff to Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is now chief of staff to Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla.

The Post Employment Tracker keeps you on top of when high level staffers and former members leave Congress, and when they become eligible to lobby their old colleagues, and is updated daily.