Which direction of the revolving door is worse? 

I'm glad Andrew Leonard at Salon documents how Fred Upton is staffing the Energy & Commerce Committee with K Street lobbyists, particularly because it was industry and K Street pressure that helped convince Upton to pass the horrible Light Bulb Law.

But Leonard tries to go a step further:

To repeat, one can find plenty of examples of Democrats who play the revolving door game, particularly on the finance side. But sometimes there are still real differences to savor, and the team that Henry Waxman brought with him when he took over as chair of the House Energy & Commerce committee is one of them.

Got that? Sure, some Democrats spin through the revolving door, but Republicans are much worse, as the Waxman-Upton comparison shows.

I could harp on how Leonard used very little data, but there's a more important point to make here: Congressmen hiring lobbyists is generally a bad thing, but government officials cashing out to become lobbyists is the real source of corruption.

Upton aide and former natural gas lobbyist Michael Bloomquist, having surrounded himself with industry types and taken much industry money, is likely to be too industry-friendly on E&C, yes. But wasn't the problematic move when Bloomquist jumped from E&C to K Street in the first place? Isn't that the sort of thing that makes us ask if the public interest is being abused for the special interest?

That's why Salon's Leonard should have noted in his blog post Amanda Mertens Campbell, Waxman's committee General Counsel who just cashed out to become vice president of government relations for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

My column today is about banking, but it discusses how the prospect of a cashout is corrupting -- and not just for Republicans.

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Timothy P. Carney

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