Falling From Grace, Often to the A-List

Getting caught in a scandal isn't necessarily bad for a public official's career these days. "Many in business - as well as old Washington hands - who have had their names tarnished and reputations sullied have discovered that there is life in the private sector after public disgrace, and a potentially profitable one at that," reports Leslie Wayne. "Many corporations are willing to overlook an ethical lapse or a subpar performance and put those with Washington expertise on their boards, to use them as lobbyists or to make them partners in business deals." For example:

  • Robert L. Livingstone, who resigned from Congress after confessing to adultery, now is one of Washington's most sought-after lobbyists.
  • "Bob Packwood, a Republican from Oregon who resigned in disgrace in 1995 after an ethics committee unanimously found he had forced himself on nearly two dozen women in his office, including a 17-year old intern. Mr. Packwood reported lobbying income of $1.4 million in 2000 and his client list includes Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and Verizon Communications."
  • Former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, a Chicago Democrat who served time in prison for misuse of public funds, was subsequently named to the board of American Ecology, a radioactive- and hazardous waste services company. "His opinions on tax issues ... appear on the op-ed pages of major newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal."
  • "Michael K. Deaver, who was chief of staff in the Reagan White House, is now one of Washington's most powerful public relations executives; he heads the Washington office of Edelman Public Relations. His conviction on felony perjury charges in 1987 for lying to Congress and to a federal grand jury, and a suspended prison sentence, matter not at all."