Revolving Door On Hill Challenges CUNA Lobby

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CUNA's new top lobbyists John Magill and Dean Sagar were hired recently because of their connections with U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, a senior Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and the House Financial Services Committee.

The only problem is that their contacts with the two committees will be severely limited by congressional lobbying rules.

Congressional lobbying rules will prevent Magill from lobbying his old boss and former colleagues on Herger's staff, and will bar Sagar from lobbying the Financial Services Committee for one year after they leave Capitol Hill, according to Mark Wolff, chief spokesman for CUNA.

But under the fine print of the lobbying rules, each new CUNA vice president will be able to answer calls from their former colleagues, they just won't be able to initiate them, according to Wolff.

But Wolff said CUNA expects the experience in Congress and knowledge of the issues to benefit CUNA even though the two will not be able to lobby their former colleagues for the first year.

CUNA President Dan Mica, who also moved over to the lobbying world after serving in Congress, was angry that anyone would question the arrangement of his newly hired lobbyists.

Mica said there is a "clear" line drawn on what his new hires can and cannot do, and they will not cross it. He said, for example, Sagar may sit in on hearings with his former committee, meet and speak with staffers and members, but cannot advocate on any issues for the year cooling-off period.

But this is a fine line that is impossible to police in the environment of revolving doors, where members of Congress or their employees are working on the Hill one day, then working for a trade association or lobbying firm the next.

The Journal's Ed Roberts can be contacted at eroberts

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