Jacky Rosen Wants To Block Lobbyists From Working in Congress. She Has a Penchant for Hiring Them.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (Getty Images)
April 3, 2024

Senator Jacky Rosen says she wants to stop congressional staffers from becoming lobbyists, and vice versa. But her office is teeming with former lobbyists, and many of her former staffers have gone on to become lobbyists.

As part of her "efforts to clean up Washington," the Nevada Democrat in March signed on to the Close the Revolving Door Act, which would ban former members of Congress from lobbying and boost restrictions on congressional staffers from becoming lobbyists and vice versa. Rosen says the bill would "reduce the influence of powerful special interests and their lobbyists in Congress by increasing transparency and accountability."

But Rosen has helped keep the revolving door spinning since taking office in 2015. Rosen has hired several former lobbyists to serve as senior policy advisers since taking office in 2015, and she’s seen other staffers leave to start lucrative careers as lobbyists. Rosen has also accepted over $720,000 in campaign contributions from registered lobbyists, including nearly $35,000 from former lawmakers who became lobbyists upon leaving office.

Rosen’s push to regulate lobbying could open her up to charges of hypocrisy as she seeks a second term in the Senate in November. The Cook Political Report on Wednesday shifted Rosen’s seat from its  "Lean Democrat" column to a toss-up after recent polls have indicated she’s in for a tight race against her expected Republican opponent, Army veteran Sam Brown.

Had the Close the Revolving Door Act been in place 2020, Rosen may have been barred from hiring her current senior policy adviser, Daniel Bleiberg, who joined her office that year after serving as a lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2017. The law would institute a six-year ban on lobbyists from working for members of Congress they lobbied. Bleiberg lobbied in the House in 2017 when Rosen served her lone term in the lower chamber, but it’s not clear if he had any substantial contact with the Nevada Democrat at that time.

Rosen has a penchant for hiring former lobbyists to serve as senior policy aides. Her former senior policy adviser, Alex De Bianchi, served as a lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America from 2008 to 2012 before joining Rosen’s office in 2019. De Bianchi left Rosen’s office in May 2023 to serve as director of legislative affairs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The Close the Revolving Door Act would have also limited the career prospects of former Rosen staffers like Leilani Gonzalez, who resigned as a legislative correspondent in 2021 to serve as policy director for the Zero Emission Transportation Association.

Gonzalez registered as a lobbyist for the group in 2023, which pushes lawmakers to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2030. The Close the Revolving Door Act would have barred Gonzalez from lobbying in Congress until 2027.

Rosen’s former legislative assistant, Kayla Primes, registered as a lobbyist for Visa shortly after leaving Rosen’s office in August 2023. Had the Close the Revolving Door Act been in place, Primes wouldn’t be able to work as a lobbyist until 2029.

Rosen’s lobbying bill could also hurt her campaign finances.

The measure would institute a lifetime ban on members of Congress working as lobbyists after leaving office. But Rosen’s campaign and leadership PAC, the Jacky Rosen Victory Fund, has received nearly $35,000 from 13 former lawmakers, 12 of whom were Democrats, who became lobbyists after leaving office. Rosen’s campaign has received over $720,000 from lobbyists of all stripes since 2015, according to Open Secrets.

Rosen’s office did not return a request for comment.