The Crystal Ball For Chris Dodd Revisited

A trip through the revolving door, but not to Wall Street

Newly retired Democratic Senator Chris Dodd has now announced what he’ll be doing for a post-Senate career: lobbying for Hollywood.

So, I must admit I underestimated Senator Dodd when I wrote this post on “The Crystal Ball For Chris Dodd: Will it be a big bank, a hedge fund, or a lobbying gig?” I and a lot of others guessed the former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee would get his fat post-Senate paycheck from the financial sector.

Turns out that Dodd’s got principles: He’s going to Hollywood for his lobbying gig, not Manhattan.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald’s has harsh words about Dodd’s move and what it says about the culture of Washington. And he’s right. As Greenwald notes, Dodd lied, or at least flip-flopped on the question of what he would do in retirement:

In March of last year, he told The Hartford Courant that “he will not lobby, but, like [former Senators Chuck] Hagel and [Sam] Nunn, he may teach.” In an August article headlined “Dodd forswears a lobbying career,” The Connecticut Mirror quoted him as saying: “No lobbying, no lobbying.” That vow earned this praise from Public Citizen’s Craig Holman: “That’s excellent on Senator Dodd’s part.”

It would have been excellent, wouldn’t it have?

The Hill’s Gautham Nagesh notes Dodd’s hypocrisy in the third paragraph of his news story:

But heading Hollywood’s lobbying arm could be problematic for the former senator, who accepted the kind of job he pledged not to take.

“No lobbying, no lobbying,” Dodd told the Connecticut Mirror last August, when asked about his plans after leaving office.

Contrast that to the Hartford Courant’s burying of the no-lobbying pledge in the tenth graph, quickly followed by a credulous acceptance of Dodd’s insistence that he’s not going to be lobbyist. Dude, the MPAA is a lobby. You head it. You’re a lobbyist.

Greenwald explains what Dodd will be doing for his $1.2 million a year and why he was chosen:

Dodd is barred from formally working himself as a lobbyist for two years after leaving the Senate, but the core purpose of his new job is to oversee lobbying activities and to convert his influence and inside knowledge of Washington into favorable legislation and desired regulatory action (or inaction) for the MPAA. Dodd is replacing another long-time DC official paid to peddle his influence: Dan Glickman — the former 9-term Democratic Congressman from Kansas and Clinton administration Agriculture Secretary. Leaving no doubt about what the MPAA seeks in this position — a politician willing to sell his connections to the highest bidder — the association chose Dodd only after it was unsuccessful in recruiting former Sen. Bob Kerrey.

But at least Dodd didn’t go directly into the financial industry he oversaw. That would have looked downright corrupt.

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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: , , ,