Jon Kyl, the number two Senate Republican leader before retiring in January, has quickly become an advisor to influence powerhouse Covington & Burlington, a firm that has spent nearly $100 million lobbying in the nation's capital, Sunlight's Influence Explorer shows. Kyl will be joining a bipartisan stable of heavy hitters that includes Stuart Eizenstat, a top official in the Carter and Clinton administrations, and Senate parliamentary wizard Marty Gold.
Technically, the powerful Arizonan will of course not be "lobbying." U.S. statute (relevant section here) prohibits former senators from lobbying their ex-colleagues for two years.
As Sunlight has documented before, such limitations have not kept former lawmakers from taking lucrative positions with organizations that do lobby however, positions that allow them to advise other lobbyists on how to get things done in Congress. Here are some of the many companies on whose behalf Kyl will "not" be lobbying:
In a year when President Obama and the Congress would like the tackle tax reform, Kyl, a longtime member of the Senate Finance Committee, "won't" be lobbying for Qualcomm, Covington and Burling's biggest client in 2012. The telecom company has been pushing for a tax holiday for companies who bring their foreign earnings back to the United States.
Nor will he be contacting his colleagues on behalf of Amazon.com, which wants to avoid proposed legislation that would allow states to collect taxes from online retailers outside of their states, or the jet maker Bombardier, another Covington client, which is trying to avoid the closing of a tax benefit to makers of corporate jets. President Obama continues to support ending the tax break.
But Kyl's deep experience — including an appointment to the failed Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the "Supercommittee," in 2011 — will help undoubtedly aid Covington's "real" lobbyists on Capitol Hill.
Kyl will be involved with the firm's international practice, also advising companies from the firm's Brussels office. Kyl was a key player in negotiations with the White House in 2010 over approval of a new arms control treaty with Russia. The may help Covington's second biggest U.S. lobbying client: American shareholders of Yukos, a former oil company that Russia disbanded in 2007. Covington wants the United States government to pressure Russia to compensate the investors.
Covington represents many other companies facing sticky international situations. BP wants the firm's help in easing the way for its Azerbaijan natural gas exports to Europe and Eli Lily pays the firm to help with patent issues in Canada. Chiquita hired the firm for help with civil claims against it in Colombia, where the fruit company violated U.S. anti-terrorism laws by bribing groups designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department. Covington is lobbying Congress for Chiquita on the civil liability provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Among Covington's other major clients is PhRma, the trade group for the drug industry, which has hired the firm to to lobby on the issue of generic versions of biotech drugs. One of its members, Amgen, has been lobbying at the state and federal level to limit the availability of generic versions of its biotech drugs. A search of Regulations.gov shows heavy Covington activity on behalf of various pharmaceutical clients.
(Photo credit: U.S. Congress)