McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli outside the California State Capitol

The so-called revolving door in politics – elected officials leaving public service to work in the private sector lobbying their former colleagues – is no secret. In California, we have a number of rules and laws to slow the so-called revolving door. The rules can be found in Article IV, Section 5(e) of California’s Constitution.

It states, “the Legislature shall enact laws that prohibit a Member of the Legislature whose term of office commences on or after December 3, 1990, from lobbying, for compensation, as governed by the Political Reform Act of 1974, before the Legislature for 12 months after leaving office.” Essentially, an elected official, after leaving office, cannot lobby their former colleagues, for one year after leaving.

California’s Government Code, in Section 87406(b)(1) goes further. There, state law specifies that a former elected official is prohibited from acting as either an attorney, an agent, or represent in some other way any person, for compensation, if that person makes any formal or informal appearances or any oral or written communications before the Legislature. This also applies to any committee or subcommittee of the Legislature if the appearance there is to influence any legislative action.

Government Code Section 87406(b)(2) was recently added and applies to members of the Legislature who resign from office prior to the expiration of their term. In this instance, the one-year ban on lobbying the Legislature or representing someone who attempts to influence policy in the Legislature starts on the date that would have been the end of their term, not on the date they resigned from office.

There is also a ban on influencing prospective employers. In other words, a public official is prohibited from making, participating in making, or influencing any governmental decisions that would directly relate to an employer that elected official is discussing or negotiating employment with.

You can find a transcript of today’s audio here.