The Open House Project from The Sunlight Foundation

Are House staff salaries set to avoid the post-employment lobbying ban?

December 7th, 2009 by Daniel Schuman · 1 Comment

Roll Call has a great article today ($) that looks at House staff pay levels to see whether some salaries are set so as to get around a law preventing former “senior” staffers from lobbying their old bosses for one year. It certainly looks like it.

According to Roll Call, only 3 percent of the people (255 of the 8,500) currently on House payroll met the lobbying ban threshold of $130,500+ annually, or $32,625 each quarter.* However, another 1% of staffers (65 in total) earn just under that threshold: between $31,350 to $32,513 each quarter. When they leave House employment, they won’t be added to this list of former staff prohibited from lobbying for a year.

When you look at average staff salaries, you can see that these rules miss a lot more “senior” people as well. For example, Deputy Chiefs of Staff earn on average $84,121 annually, and Legislative Directors earn approximately $72,137 annually. They don’t even get close to this threshold.

Of course, we wouldn’t be able to figure any of this out but for the House’s publishing their “Statements of Disbursements” online for the first time, giving us a new digital view into how the U.S. House spends public funds. They should be applauded for making this valuable resource available online. Hopefully, next time they’ll release the information in machine readable format, and not just in Adobe PDF.

There’s a lot more interesting stuff to derive from this data. Here are some instances of what’s been found so far:

There’s much more to come.

* Of course, we need to see the entire year’s data to definitely know annual salaries for all staff. This is the best approximation currently available.

Tags: openhouseproject

1 response so far ↓

  • House Staffer // Dec 9, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I make enough be a “senior staffer” and it took 14 years. Most staffers don’t stick around that long, not because they want to do something else, but because they can’t afford to work here and pay DC metro rents. I have never, ever, discussed the pay cap issue with anyone paying my salary in the way you portray. So if it’s intentional at all, then the staffers themselves are completely in the dark on this.

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