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Loophole in Lobbying Ban on Newly-Retired Calif. Lawmakers

Newly-retired California lawmakers are supposed to wait a year before lobbying at the State Capitol. But Phillip Ung with California Common Cause said that law doesn’t stop firms from hiring them anyway, shortly after they leave office. He said companies employ them as “consultants” or “advisors” instead – a practice that might technically be legal but violates the spirit of the law.

“Very rarely do former legislators go back to a desk job," explained Ung. "They usually go back and they stay in the Capitol area and lobby. So we’ll see them around in the coming years.”

Ung calls this the “Newt Gingrich” loophole. During a 2011 Republican presidential debate, the former House Speaker described his role advising Freddie Mac after he left office as a “historian.”

Many firms don’t publicize their hirings of newly-retired lawmakers. But one prominent law firm did announce it hired former Democratic Assemblywoman Alyson Huber last month. Huber stayed only briefly, though, as she was recently appointed to a judgeship by Governor Jerry Brown.

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