Tim Carney | Cronyism: Ben Nelson cashes in on his Obamacare vote

Sen. Ben Nelson delivered a crucial vote to pass Obamacare into law in 2009, and now he is cashing out of the Senate to make money off the organizations that benefitted from the legislation.

Nelson’s trip through the revolving door demonstrates an important truth about Washington’s influence industry: The revolving door rewards lawmakers for further entangling business and government, whether through regulations, subsidies or mandates.

Nelson represented the conservative state of Nebraska for two terms in the U.S. Senate. Voting for Obamacare in 2009 and 2010 sealed Nelson’s fate in the 2012 elections, and so he decided not to run again. Nelson’s last day as a senator was Jan. 3, and on Jan. 22 he announced he had taken two jobs on K Street.

Agenda Global is a new, self-described public affairs and advocacy firm headquartered on Capitol Hill. Former lobbyist Craig Pattee, who had founded a firm with Nelson back in 1994, launched Agenda this past summer. Pattee says Agenda doesn’t lobby per se but concentrates on "building grassroots coalitions" to pressure lawmakers to support the policies that help Agenda’s clients. "The backroom deal is dead," he tells me.


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