Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 2 a.m.
If there’s one thing lawmakers don’t like to do to, it’s legislate themselves.
So the prospects for a bill introduced Tuesday to prohibit lawmakers from working as a lobbyist for one session after they leave office are somewhat dim.
“It’s not gonna pass anyway,” one former lawmaker-turned-lobbyist quipped about Assembly Bill 77, sponsored by Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey.
A similar bill failed last session.
Perhaps Assemblyman William Horne, who is now the Assembly majority leader, put it most bluntly in 2011: “I have a fundamental disagreement with some of my colleagues that you should prohibit someone from doing what they’re gainfully employed to do.”
But that’s just what proponents of the bill say should happen. In other words, elected officials shouldn’t be able to parlay their public service into a for-profit enterprise.
Indeed, the Legislative Building sometimes seems to have a powerful magnetic quality that continually draws people back, even after they’ve been voted out of office.
Of the 490 lobbyists registered this session, 17 have served as lawmakers.
Hickey’s bill seeks to slow that revolving door.
Their reasons for jumping into lobbying vary.
“I am the definition of the revolving door,” joked contractors lobbyist Warren Hardy, who was an assemblyman who became a lobbyist who became a senator who became a lobbyist again. “Saying I couldn’t go back to lobbying would be like saying (Sen.) Joe Hardy couldn’t got back to being a doctor.”
Of the handful of former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists interviewed by the Sun, all readily acknowledged their time in the Legislature has given them a leg up as a lobbyist.
They know the process. They know the people. They know the pitfalls.
“I don’t think I’d ever own my own independent business as a lobbyist if I hadn’t been a lawmaker first,” gaming and mining lobbyist Josh Griffin, who served one term in the Assembly, said. “Sure, it’s valuable experience for a lobbyist.”
Those interviewed focused on the knowledge of the process rather than the relationships built with lawmakers.
Sometimes those relationships come back to bite a former lawmaker-turned-lobbyist when a legislator doesn’t want to be seen as having been influenced by a former colleague.
But Hickey said he’s more worried about who a lawmaker might be serving in a final session of he or she knows a future in lobbying awaits them.
Here’s a look at the 17 registered lobbyists who have served as a lawmaker:
Lobbying clients: Union interests, rural housing authority, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
Lobbying clients: Las Vegas taxi company Frias Transportation
Of note: Was convicted of pocketing $120,000 in campaign contributions
Lobbying clients: Lionel Sawyer & Collins, one of the state’s largest lobbying firms with clients from most of Nevada’s largest business industries
Lobbying clients: Commercial real estate, Reno airport, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Washoe Sheriff’s Office
Lobbying clients: A partner in R&R Partners, one of the state’s largest lobbying firms representing gaming, NV Energy and other major Nevada industries
Of note: Also worked as chief of staff to former Gov. Kenny Guinn
Lobbying clients: Marriage and family therapists, Pardee Homes, Boys & Girls Club
Lobbying clients: Mining, Google, craft brewers, Desert Cab
Lobbying clients: Mining, gaming, pharmaceuticals, subcontractors, broadcasters
Of note: Was one of four Assembly Republicans who backed a gross receipts tax in the 2003 tax battle, resigned shortly after the special session to begin recruiting clients
Lobbying clients: Builders and contractors, solar energy, restaurants
Lobbying clients: Nolan & Associates
Lobbying clients: Labor unions
Lobbying clients: Mining, gaming, taxi cab companies, city of Henderson
Of note: Former speaker of the Assembly for three sessions
Lobbying clients: Las Vegas cab and limousine company Frias Holding Co.
Of note: Former Assembly majority leader
Lobbying clients: Golden Gaming, Dollar Loan Center
Lobbying clients: March of Dimes, other nonprofits
Lobbying clients: Nevada State AFL-CIO
Lobbying clients: AT&T