Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor campaigning against Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Arkansas Democratic primary, announced Tuesday that he has never been a lobbyist and that he will never become a lobbyist.
"The revolving door used by lobbyists and legislators only serves to fill the pockets of special interests while ignoring the needs of Arkansas families," said Halter in a statement from his campaign. "During my career I've worked in both the private sector and public service. After completing a stint in public service, I have never become a lobbyist and I never will. When so many public officials move from their positions directly into lobbyist positions, it undermines public confidence in our government."
Indeed, many politicians go on to become lobbyists. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than 300 former members of Congress have become lobbyists or taken similar jobs in recent years. It's an easy way to make a huge pile of money at the end of a political career.
Last week, freshman Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) proposed measures that, among other things, will prohibit a member of Congress from ever becoming a lobbyist. (Bennet himself did not promise to avoid the influence industry.)
Several current senators who plan to retire when their terms end seem to be angling for gigs on K Street. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) all but said he wanted a lobbyist job and Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) refused to rule it out when asked by HuffPost.
Halter also said on Tuesday that he opposes automatic pay raises, will hold a town hall in every Arkansas county every year and that he will make his schedule public.
Blanche Lincoln's campaign did not say whether she would also take the no-lobbyist pledge but defended the candidate in a statement:
"Today Bill Halter held a press conference while Senator Lincoln worked toward Senate passage of an amendment that will hold bailed-out Wall Street institutions and their executives more accountable to American taxpayers by taxing excessive bonuses," said Lincoln campaign spokesperson Katie Laning Niebaum. "In addition, she has successfully inserted two tax relief amendments in the Senate jobs bill with direct benefits for Arkansas workers, businesses, seniors and the disabled."
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