The law firm Van Ness Feldman announced today that former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who lost her reelection bid last year, will be joining the company to help run its lobbying division and focus on energy issues.
Landrieu joins the firm after pushing aggressively for energy-related policy goals that overlapped with Van Ness Feldman’s clients. In November of last year, Landrieu helped force a vote to approve the Keystone XL, the controversial tar sands pipeline owned by Transcanada, a firm represented by Van Ness Feldman.
Landrieu also worked to expedite the approval of liquified natural gas export terminals, another contentious issue. Landrieu sponsored legislation to expedite the LNG approval process and specifically pushed for individual projects, including the Sempra Cameron LNG facility in Louisiana. Van Ness Feldman has a large practice on LNG issues and lobbied for approval of several LNG export terminals, including the Sempra facility touted by Landrieu.
“I am proud to join Van Ness Feldman,” Landrieu said in a statement released by the firm. “I have always respected the firm and worked closely with them during my 18 years in the Senate,” she noted. “Their substantive and sophisticated approach to important public policy issues in the areas of energy, the environment and natural resources was a major factor in my decision-making process.”
Landrieu told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that her new job as a senior adviser with Van Ness Feldman will provide her with “flexibility” to continue work for the Walton Family Foundation. She will not technically lobby Congress, as former senators are barred from engaging in lobby activity as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act for two years after leaving office.
But one person’s lobbying is another person’s advising. The Department of Justice has never brought an enforcement action on unregistered lobbying, and ethics experts believe the law is regularly flouted.
Landrieu’s shift to a firm filled with clients she helped promote is becoming a regular feature of the Washington revolving door. Former Sen. Judd Greg, R-N.H., shaped financial reform issues, then took a lucrative job for Goldman Sachs and for a Wall Street trade association after leaving elected office. Former Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by writing the law that prevents Medicare from importing prescription drugs from Canada or from negotiating for cheaper prices. Tauzin left Congress to join a drug company lobby group called PhRMA, a position that eventually paid him more than $11 million in one year alone.
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Photo: Mary Landrieu, Sean Gardner/Getty Images.