As the Revolving Door Turns

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the head of the Federal Housing Administration, David H. Stevens, will become CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Meantime, the Los Angeles Times reports that former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael “Son of Colin” Powell will become CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

Powell at least waited a few years. Stevens is going directly from the FHA to the MBA, which is surely one of the FHA’s most powerful lobbyists.

The MBA, recall, is the bank lobbying group that condemned underwater homeowners for considering strategic defaults while at the same time strategically defaulting on its D.C. headquarters or at least selling it short—the group wouldn’t say. Watch this Daily Show segment on that:

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Mortgage Bankers Association Strategic Default
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How is the Obama administration, which carped about the revolving door before it came to power, playing this move?

“We think it’s important to ensure that there’s not even an appearance of conflict of interest,” said a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Right. Sorry, but there’s no way around this gigantic conflict of interest and spin like that just makes it look worse.

Look, a lobby isn’t going to give an agency head a cush job if he’s been tough as nails with on them. And the real problem is that it’s hard to imagine that the future job prospects aren’t at least back of mind for the type of government official who will take such a job.

Free Press gets at that in a statement on Powell’s new gig:

“If you wonder why common sense, public interest policies never see the light of day in Washington, look no further than the furiously spinning revolving door between industry and the FCC,” said Craig Aaron, managing director of Free Press, in a statement. “Former chairman Michael Powell is the natural choice to lead the nation’s most powerful cable lobby, having looked out for the interests of companies like Comcast and Time Warner during his tenure at the commission and having already served as a figurehead for the industry front group Broadband for America.”

And round and round we go.

UPDATE: Ah, and how could I forget newly former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, now a lobbyist with a private-equity sinecure, who also works for Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , ,