Eric Cantor spent his time in Congress as a de facto corporate lobbyist–until it finally caught up with him and the voters tossed him out.
But weep not for poor Cantor—he’s already taking steps to make a quick and profitable transition from a de facto lobbyist to a de jure one. Cantor resigned his seat on Thursday and will not serve out his remaining term. Of course, this means that the seat will be empty during the lame duck session until the new Congress is sworn in in January.
Not to worry! Cantor has asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and Clinton fundraiser, to call a special election that will coincide with Election Day. Why should the state have to go through all this trouble?
Well, this way Cantor can both immediately apply for a high-paying job and avoid the disclosure that would be required if he was still in Congress.
Larry Sabato, director for the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia, said he sees Cantor’s premature exit from public office as a sign that he wants to “pursue the big money prize awaiting him in the private sector.”
“The bonus is there won’t be much public disclosure of his finances once he leaves Congress,” Sabato said.
Once retired from Congress, Cantor could immediately begin negotiations for a high-paid job as a Washington lobbyist, bypassing a rule that would prohibit him from doing so before leaving in January.
“If he were actively involved in negotiating a lobbyist position right now, while he was still in office, he would have to disclose this and file a notification,” said Sarah Bryner with the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group tracking money in U.S. politics.
But the law would allow Cantor to do strategic advising for a year without actually engaging in lobbyism, Bryner said.
“That is what Tom Daschle and Newt Gingrich have done before him,” she said. “These are activities that look like lobbying but aren’t legally defined as such. He’d be able to do that from the day out of office.”
[Cantor's Early Departure Poses Elections Dilemma, by Markus Schmidt, Richmond Times Dispatch, August 1, 2014]
Multiply this little anecdote by many, many other examples and you will begin to understand why the Republican Party is so useless.