Thanks a Lott

As soon as Sen. Trent Lott (R-MI) announced that he would be stepping down as minority whip of the U.S. Senate, Washington tongues started wagging about where he might be job hunting.   After all, by stepping down now, before December 31, he won’t be subject to a new Senate ethics rule that would keep former members of Congress away from lobbying for two years. Right now, he’ll only have to sit out a year before directly lobbying his former colleagues.   If that’s true, Sen. Lott stands to make a whole lot of money—well, more than the $165,000 he gets now. Instead of lobbying for the interests of Mississippians getting by on a median household income of $34,000, he stands to make millions of dollars lobbying for high profile clients with billion dollar profits—possibly those who have filled his campaign and PAC coffers during his time in office.   For example, he could continue his job of lobbying for the tobacco industry like he did when he voted against reauthorization of S-CHIP, legislation that would increase the number of children able to receive health insurance. It also would have increased the federal tobacco tax. He’s already received $20,000 this year alone from the tobacco industry and $77,000 over the course of his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.   The new Senate ethics rules were put in place to discourage the “revolving door” between Congress and K Street. That door spins so quickly it can be hard to keep track. Consider former Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) who lost his bid for re-election in 2006 in part because of his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, then took a cushy job at a lobby shop. Or consider the saga of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) whose staff cross-pollination with lobby firms doing business with his office have landed him and several of his former aides in hot water.   A “shadow Congress” has emerged of former public officials cashing in on years spent ostensibly serving the public whilst cultivating close relationships with special interests who could offer them lucrative contracts in the future. Lott may be the next to join their number. What has it cost us?UPDATE: We're not alone in speculating on Lott's future plans --  the Los Angeles Times thinks Lott will soon make the leap to the lobbying world.