Lobbyists who left K Street in recent months to take jobs on Capitol Hill left behind big salaries and numerous clients that have a stake in the debates their new bosses are engaged in.
Mark Isakowitz, for one, walked away with nearly $7 million when he left Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock to become chief of staff to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, according to recently filed financial disclosures required for senior incoming Hill aides.
The filings offer a rare public glimpse of K Street salaries. They also show the scope of these new Hill aides’ private-sector work, as well as investment portfolios.
Portman's communications director, Caitlin Conant, said in an email that Isakowitz "fully divested from his firm when he returned to public service and is in compliance with Senate rules."
Isakowitz listed such former clients as Airbus, the American Gaming Association and JP Morgan Chase, among others. The longtime lobbyist’s big payday from his former company, now known as Fierce Government Relations, came from both a partnership draw valued at $4.2 million and gains from the Jan. 1 sale of his business stake worth $2.7 million, his disclosure states.
Jeff Shockey, who left the lobbying company S-3 Group to become staff director of the House Intelligence Committee, reported earning more than $1.2 million in the previous year, according to financial disclosure filings.
He also reported that his ownership stake in the company has been acquired for $1.2 million to be paid out “in installments over the next three years.” The filing noted that Shockey had consulted the House Ethics Committee about the terms of that arrangement.
Shockey’s clients included the firearm accessory group American Silencer Association; defense contractors such as Boeing Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp., General Dynamics Corp. and Halliburton; and the Koch Cos. Public Sector, among others.
Jack Langer, communications director for Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said that Shockey's ownership interest was conducted according to the firm's "established process" for departing partners. "Additionally, Mr. Shockey has informed Chairman Nunes that he will not communicate with any member or employee of his former firm regarding any official matter," Langer said in an email.
Such turns through the reverse revolving door are not unheard of, and numerous Democrats left K Street after their party won control of the House and Senate in the 2006 elections.
Another veteran K Streeter who made the return to Capitol Hill this year was Hazen Marshall, who is serving as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s policy director. He disclosed his private-sector income with the Nickles Group — the shop of former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla. — as about $870,000.
Marshall's clients came from a cross section of sectors and included the American Council of Life Insurers, the American Hospital Association, Cigna, Koch Cos. Public Sector and the South Korean embassy.
Press aides in the congressional offices where the former K Streeters now work did not detail whether the ex-lobbyists would ever recuse themselves from policy matters that might involve their one-time clients.
Ken Gross, a partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and an expert in political and ethics law, said lobbyists-turned-Hill aides appear to be under no obligation to sideline themselves from specific issues that could involve former clients.
“I know of no explicit rule that would regulate the conduct of these individuals while working on the Hill,” he said.