Top Dem Senator Criticizes Lobbyists’ Influence While Hiring His

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Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who often claims to have “fighted” lobbyists and railed against them for having “too much power,” has a history of hiring lobbyists for his own staff — including this year.

Last month, Brown wrote an op-ed for the Ironton Tribune saying that lobbyists working with major railroad companies had “too much power and influence for far too long,” promising to “finally stand up to powerful special interests.”

The opinion built on Brown’s earlier comments speaking out against lobbyists. In March, for example, the senator tweeted a video in which he blasted the rail and banking lobbies and politicians who favored them, saying their actions caused the train to derail in eastern Palestine and the Silicon Valley Bank collapsed.

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“I want to say a few words about the people of East Palestine, Ohio, and the aftermath of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse,” Brown said. “They both have one thing in common: companies followed the Wall Street business model, obsessed with short-term profits at the expense of everything and everyone. rules designed to protect the people we serve. And now working people in Ohio and across the country are paying the price.”

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Months earlier, Brown praised on Twitter how he “took on” and “fought” corporate lobbyists to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.

Despite the rhetoric, Brown has a history of hiring lobbyists for his own staff.

Recently, Brown hired former lobbyist Logan Basch to become the digital director at his Capitol Hill office in Washington, DC. According to Basch’s LinkedIn page, he started the role in February.

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According to Logan Basch, he lobbied for Exact Sciences between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022 lobbying disclosure records. Some of the bills he previously lobbied for came before Brown in the Senate Finance Committee, particularly those related to health care, such as the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021.

In addition to Basch, at least three former Brown chiefs of staff had worked as lobbyists. For example, Jack Dover was Brown’s chief of staff between January 2005 and January 2007 and his senior adviser between January 2007 and January 2013, according to Legistorm.

Lobby disclosure records indicate that Dover was a lobbyist from 1999 to 2004. And according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, he donated nearly $7,000 to Brown’s campaigns before joining his staff in 2005.

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Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, leaves the Capitol on February 27, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Dover company – known at the time as Griffin, Johnson, Dover & Stewart before later changing names – lobbied for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council on legislation designed to boost trade between the US and China. Hong Kong would benefit from the normalization of trade between the US and China.

While Dover was a senior adviser in Brown’s office, James Heimbach served as the senator’s chief of staff from 2007 to 2009, having previously worked as a lobbyist.

Heimbach lobbied for various clients from 2001 to 2007 and has given nearly $20,000 to Brown’s campaign since 2012, according to FEC data.

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Heimbach is a lobbyist for Cigna Corporation, a company sued by Ohio for allegedly driving up the cost of prescription drugs by charging large fees for pharmacy benefit management.

In 2016, Congressional Quarterly Magazine called Heimbach a “hot commodity” in the lobbying world because of his ties to powerful figures, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

As late as the first quarter of this year, Heimbach was named as a lobbyist in a report for Bank of Americaone of the largest financial institutions in the country.

In this November 2, 2020 photo, sunlight shines on the US Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Former lobbyist Mark Powden worked for Brown from 2007 to 2019, including as his chief of staff from 2009 to 2015. He became staff director of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in 2015, when Brown became the top Democrat on the panel.

Before that, between 2002 and 2005 he lobbied for Education Finance Council, Inc., which wants to make the university more accessible, according to lobbying disclosure records.

Finally, Elizabeth Farrar worked as a lobbyist for the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance before serving as Brown’s press secretary from November 2005 to January 2007. Farrar had lobbied for the alliance just months before go to Brown’s office.

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Farrar lobbied on multiple bills addressed to the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, of which Brown was a member.

“It is surprising that Sherrod Brown continues to challenge lobbyists as he hires them into key positions,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Philip Letsou told Fox News Digital.

These aren’t the first examples of people switching between lobbying Congress and working on Capitol Hill. Many observers have raised concerns about a so-called “revolving door” of Washington, D.C., insiders who professionally shuttle back and forth between the federal government and outside special interest groups who work as lobbyists, consultants and strategists who can influence public policy.

Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, addresses reporters on the Senate subway on his way to a vote at the Capitol on March 14, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

When legislators and top congressional aides leave Congress to lobby, they must undergo a “cooling off period” during which they cannot contact former colleagues to take official action. However, lobbyists who take jobs in the House or Senate are not subject to such restrictions.

Some pundits have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest if members of Congress hire ex-lobbyists, arguing that the staffers will give their former lobbying colleagues better access to lawmakers.

“They can give more access to their colleagues they used to work with in the lobbying community,” Donald Wolfensberger, a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former staff director of the House Rules Committee, told the Telegraph Forum.

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Still, other voices refute that former lobbyists have extensive legislative expertise and know how to perform tasks effectively, making them good collaborators for lawmakers.

Brown’s office did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Aaron Kliegman is a political reporter for Fox News Digital.

Top Dem Senator Criticizes Lobbyists’ Influence While Hiring His

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