Georgia has a law requiring public officials to wait a year after leaving office before registering as lobbyists, but that doesn’t stop high-level lawmakers from landing plumb jobs in lobbying firms right away .
“I support the idea of a one-year cooling off that limits former legislators access to the executive branch and former colleagues,” said former House Minority Caucus Chairman Virgil Fludd.
Fludd, a seven-term member of the Georgia House, resigned his seat last month to accept a position at Dentons, an international law firm with a large lobbying practice in Atlanta.
Fludd, a Democrat from Tyrone, is just the latest in a procession of powerful lawmakers to find new work in lobbying , even if he is forbidden by law from direct lobbying until November 2017.
In the interim, Fludd said he would be recruiting new clients for Dentons and helping with strategy. His official title is “senior advisor” and he joins other advisers in the firm including Ed Lindsey, former House Republican whip, who came to the firm this summer.
Eric Tanenblatt, who heads Dentons’ North American lobbying practice, said Fludd and other lawmakers hired by the firm have experience with the legislative process and should be allowed to share that with a new employer.
“I don’t think you can prevent people from using their knowledge base,” he said. “What crosses the line is interacting with government officials.”
That’s how the state law has traditionally been interpreted. That doesn’t mean the firms recent hires can’t meet legislators for dinner or play a round of golf with them, but as long as they don’t talk about their clients they are “cooling off.”