Though he is not a registered lobbyist, Michigan GOP Senate candidate and former congressman Pete Hoekstra received nearly half a million dollars during the last year working for a firm that provides lobbying services.
A financial disclosure form filed with the Senate Office of Public Records last week shows Hoekstra received more than 80 percent of his income -- $473,286 -- from his work as a senior adviser with Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a legal and lobbying firm. Formerly the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Hoekstra reportedly advises on intelligence, national security and international business issues.
Hoekstra joined the firm in February 2011, nearly a year before the end of the legally required "cooling off" period that bans former representatives from lobbying either chamber for a year after they leave office. But Hoekstra never registered as a lobbyist, officially taking an advising role at the firm instead.
A lobbyist is defined by Congress as someone who contacts more than one official on behalf of a client and spends at least 20 percent of his time on lobbying activities. Former members of Congress and their staffers often take jobs as advisers or consultants at lobbying firms to avoid the disclosure requirements and the label associated with being a lobbyist.
Hoekstra's campaign did not return a request for comment.
While in Congress, Hoekstra voted on several occasions to protect representatives' rights to lobby after leaving Congress.
In 2005, he voted against a measure to prohibit lawmakers from taking advantage of committee memberships to secure profitable jobs after leaving Congress. He also voted against comprehensive lobbying reform in 2006, and against banning gifts from lobbyists in 1994.
Hoekstra, who ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in Michigan in 2010, joins a host of other former lawmakers at Dickstein Shapiro, including former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.).
Stabenow has led Hoekstra throughout the campaign in polls and in fundraising, despite significant spending by Hoekstra. The most recent estimate from The Huffington Post's Pollster charts shows Stabenow leading Hoekstra, 53.1 percent to 36.9 percent.
Hoekstra stirred up controversy in February, when he aired a campaign ad implying that Stabenow's spending record would send American jobs to China. In the ad, a young girl speaking broken English thanks "Debbie SpendItNow" for helping her find a job. The ad led to widespread criticisms and a dip in his campaign fundraising.