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Democratic U.S. House candidate Gwen Graham greets voters outside a voting precinct in Panama City, Fla., on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/The News Herald/Panama City, Fla., Andrew Wardlow)

Influence

Gwen Graham supports ‘forever’ lobbying ban on members of Congress

If you’re gonna go out, go out with a bang.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, announced Friday “she is co-sponsoring legislation to ban members of Congress from ever becoming federal lobbyists.”

The problem is, it’s probably not constitutional.

“My horseback answer is ‘no,'” said Joseph Little, a retired professor of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and constitutional law expert.

“It would be hard to sustain such a statute if the terms are ‘forever,'” he said. “I think a court could well decide that’s unreasonable and beyond what’s needed to purge any unreasonable advantage someone might have.”

Graham, who is not running for re-election, served one term in Congress before her 2nd Congressional District was redrawn into a more conservative-leaning one.

As she explains it, “The revolving door from Congress to (lobbying) represents everything wrong with Washington. Members of Congress shouldn’t use their time in office as a taxpayer-funded class in learning to lobby.”

She added: “We need to restore the public’s faith in government, and that starts by restoring their trust in public officials.”

Now, the federal lobbying ban is two years for former U.S. senators and one year for former members of the U.S. House.

She quotes OpenSecrets.org that “more than 430 former members of Congress are now lobbyists (or ‘senior advisors’ performing similar work).”

A spokeswoman for The Center for Responsive Politics, the government transparency group that operates the website, clarified that they identified 431 former lawmakers who are or at least once were lobbyists. Their list by name is here.

In April, Graham — daughter of former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham — said she was “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Federal Election Commission records show Graham has cash on hand of $1.38 million in her “Graham for Congress” committee, money she can use for a state race.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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