The Golden Revolving Door

Eric Lipton reports in a two part series, reinforced by an editorial titled “The Golden Revolving Door,” that the government-industry revolving door is turning faster and faster. According to Lipton’s count, more than 90 former Department of Homeland Security and domestic security officials have entered the lucrative private market by fully capitalizing on their government influence. These include former Secretary Tom Ridge, former Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson, and former Deputy Secretary Admiral James M. Loy. “People have a right to make a living,” said Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general of the department, who now works at the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research center. “But working virtually immediately for a company that is bidding for work in an area where you were just setting the policy — that is too close. It is almost incestuous.” While Congress passed a law in 1962 that required former officials to wait a year before lobbying former colleagues, the ingenious officials in Homeland Security managed to get a loophole the size of a humvee through the Office of Government Ethics in 2004. It divided the department into seven distinct areas, and allowed former employees to lobby all but the one where they worked.