Washington Babylon — November 25, 2008, 11:54 am

Democrats On K Street: How supply and demand works in Washington

I noted here recently that Democrats were in hot demand at Washington lobbying firms, including a former “intern” of Joe Biden’s who signed up to represent a big financial firm. The New York Times has a story today on the same topic:

After eight years of the so-called K Street Project — the effort by Republican lawmakers and operatives to pressure companies, trade associations and lobbying firms to hire their fellow Republicans — the tasseled loafer is on the other foot. Companies and interest groups are competing to snap up Democrats. And scarcity has added to their value because so many well-connected Democrats are angling for jobs in the Obama administration, which has promised ethics rules that may block lobbyists from certain jobs. Meanwhile, recently passed Congressional ethics rules restrict the ability of departing Congressional staff members to lobby as well…

The starting salaries for former officials tell the story. An assistant department secretary leaving the Bush administration three years ago, with Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House, might fetch as much $600,000 to $1 million a year in the influence business, recruiters and lobbyists said. But the same person might now expect less than half as much.

But for Democrats, the bidding is fierce. Three years ago, a Democratic staff director for an important House or Senate committee might have earned about $130,000 a year on Capitol Hill, and jumped to K Street for an annual salary of about $250,000. Now, the same person might command as much as $500,000 to $800,000 a year, several recruiters said. “There is a supply-and-demand issue with finding enough Democrats who have had senior-level positions,” said Nels Olson, of the recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International. “It is certainly a difficult time for Republicans.”

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