Former Feingold Staffers Jumped Into Lobbying

Sixteen made the leap into lobbying after working on Capitol Hill

Russ Feingold
Russ Feingold / AP
November 11, 2015

A number of staffers who worked in the Washington, D.C., office of Russ Feingold went on the become lobbyists despite the senator’s disdain for the sector when he served in Congress.

Feingold, the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin who is currently running to regain the seat he lost in 2010 to Sen. Ron Johnson, spent much of his 18-year career in the upper house lambasting lobbyists and special interest money in politics.

However, 16 of his staffers made the leap into the lobbying sector at one point after working for him.

Serena Davila worked as a legislative assistant for Feingold from July 2003 until Jan. 2005. Davila joined Financial Executives International in 2005, where she was a registered lobbyist until 2009, when she went to lobby for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities as executive director of legislative affairs until 2015. Davila currently serves as a senior legislative and federal affairs officer at the American Psychological Association.

Another former Feingold employee, Joy Anna McGlaun, worked as a legislative assistant in his office between Oct. 2005 and Feb. 2008. McGlaun joined Boeing Co. in 2013 to lobby on their behalf as director of health and labor policy.

Kelly Reed, a legislative assistant from Jan. 2007 until Jan. 2011, joined the Conservation Fund after Feingold was defeated in 2010, where she lobbied for four years and now is the group’s director of government relations. Another former staffer from 2007 until 2011, Stacia Stanek, joined the Conservation Fund as a lobbyist in 2015 and serves as a senior government relations specialist.

Twelve others who worked in the former senator’s office, and who presumably helped to craft his message against the sector, jumped into lobbying after departing Capitol Hill as well.

The transition of his staffers into the lobbying sector may come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the former senator’s distaste for the so-called "revolving door" between congressional offices and lobbying firms.

Feingold penned an op-ed for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 1996 titled, "Restricting ‘revolving door’ a step toward good government." The senator argued that limiting lobbying by ex-public servants, including staffers, would improve the public’s trust of politicians.

"Public service is supposed to be just that—service to the public," Feingold wrote. "Unfortunately, some public servants—elected officials and staff members alike—use the revolving door to secure positions in Washington lobbying offices and then return to the Capitol to use the expertise they acquired in public life and exert influence on their former colleagues on behalf of their well-financed private clients."

Feingold expanded upon this notion later in 1996 by hitting the "permanent ruling class" in an article published in the Christian Science Monitor, saying that when public servants leave and go through the revolving door they "contribute to the concentration of influence that has made so many Americans suspicious of government."

Feingold also pushed for stricter ethics reform that included a requirement to disclose lobbyist bundlers, arguing that politicians should convince their constituents that they are fighting for their interests and not those of "well-connected lobbyists."

"Regardless of how reforms might impact us, our priority must be to convince our constituents that we are here to advocate their best interests, not those of well-connected lobbyists," he said in August 2007. "Ethical conduct in government should be more than an aspiration. It should be a requirement."

Despite pushing the reforms and chastising the industry, Feingold accepted at least $200,000 in bundled lobbyist contributions in the final months leading up to his defeat in the 2010 elections and received an additional $100,000 more in bundled lobbyist contributions for the current 2016 election cycle from the controversial J Street PAC.

Feingold’s campaign did not return a request for comment. Additionally, none of the mentioned lobbyists returned a request for comment by press time.