After Saying He'd Never Lobby, Kent Conrad Gets A Job That's Sort Of Lobbying


“The one thing I know I’m not going to be doing is lobbying.”

That’s what former North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad told the Bismarck Tribune in 2012 while being interviewed about his plans post-Senate. Flash forward to 2014, and Conrad just took a gig with public relations giant Edelman:

Former senators Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who fought crime the deficit during the first debt ceiling tussle, have been hired by the same D.C.-based public relations firm, Edelman.

Gregg and Conrad, who served side by side as ranking Republican and chairman on the Senate Budget Committee, were the brainchildren behind what later became the 2011 “supercommittee” — that bipartisan group meant to solve the deficit crisis but that instead put in motion the sequester — and after their retirement continued working as a pair on fiscal issues.

A news release from Edelman, whose clients include major corporations such as Starbucks and Microsoft, said the two would provide “public policy advice and communications counsel to a wide variety of corporate, association and nonprofit clients.”

Now, Conrad would argue that this doesn’t make him a hypocrite because Edelman isn’t a lobbying firm, but then this is the same guy who wanted us to believe that talking to the CEO about his mortgage wasn’t special or unusual treatment afforded him because he was a US Senator in a position to help said CEO.

Edelman hasn’t registered as one since 2006 because, technically, the influence peddling Edelman does falls outside of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Edelman’s activities have been called “shadow lobbying” by some. And let’s be clear: Organizations that seek to influence politics by hiring former members of Congress (among other heavy hitters) meet the definition of what most of us would describe as lobbyists, if not the specific legal definition.

It’s the same sort of rhetorical sleight of hand Earl Pomeroy used to deny that he was jumping right into lobbying after he lost re-election in 2010. He was just consulting for the lobbying firm that hired him. Until the legally-mandated cooling off period between serving in Congress and lobbying expired. Then, you know, he was a lobbyist.

So there it is. After saying he would never lobby, Kent Conrad (who has always held himself above the fray of politics as usual) is pretty much a lobbyist now.

Way to be a hypocrite, Kent.