Are you sitting down? The lobbying rules designed to slow down the revolving door have failed. According to the New York Times, an analysis of congressional staffer data has revealed that not only is the practice of government worker-to-lobbyist continuing, the meager ethics rule that do exist are being ignored.

Apparently being a “public servant” for a member of Congress is still the surest way to make serious money on K Street.

Federal ethics rules are intended to limit lobbying by former senior officials within one year after they leave the government. Yet even after the ethics rules were revised in 2007 following a lobbying scandal, more than 1,650 congressional aides have registered to lobby within a year of leaving Capitol Hill...

The rules are particularly loose in the House of Representatives, where aides and lawmakers enjoy significant leeway in hopping from job to job — and from government pay to six- and seven-figure private sector salaries.

The new get rich quick scheme – work in government for a few years then cash out.  Is anyone surprised these jobs are attracting the most crass and venal members of our society?

And let’s not forget what these staffers turned lobbyists are profiting on – insider knowledge they gained while mindlessly defending their bosses from public scrutiny. Is this who we really want running the country? Because these opportunists are now part of the 1% – multimillionaire apparatchiks for special interests who know where all the bodies are buried and all the buttons to push in Washington.

The effortless way former staff members avoid the one-year ban raises new concerns about the revolving door. Some critics say it fosters a clubby culture in Washington, where lawmakers and their aides might seek to protect Wall Street and other industries like health care from new rules and legislation.

The Beltway Mafia collude to suppress reforms and regulations on the powerful special interests that pay their salaries? No kidding.

As long as this revolving door is allowed to so easily turn real reform in DC is just a dream. The polluting effect of big money has now mutated DC into an ecosystem totally dependent on cash. Ideas matter only so far as they can be used to generate cash. The problem of course is that with an increasing wealth gap only a small group of Americans matter in that system. The plutonomy has overtaken the republic.

Photo by Susan NYC under Creative Commons license.