Iowa ranks among the three states with the most recent restrictions intended to prevent elected officials from engaging in lobbying activities immediately after leaving office, according to a report published July 22 by the progressive, Washington-based nonprofit group Public Citizen.
According to the paper, titled "Slowing the Revolving Door: Reforms to Stop Lobbying Activity by Former Public Officials and States That Lead the Way," recent legislation in Iowa, North Dakota and Maryland joins them with other states that require a "cooling-off period" for legislative and executive officials. These restrictions prevent public officials from both lobbying activity as well as lobbying contacts during the cooling-off period.
The study is predicated on the assumption there exists a so-called revolving door of former elected officials lobbying government officials on behalf of wealthy self-interests, which the Ralph Nader-founded group says threatens the "moral stature of government." The report asserts promises of a high-paying lobbying job after an officeholder leaves office can affect how public officials act and vote.
Craig Holman, co-author of the study, said there are additional steps Iowa could take to improve its lobbying restrictions in addition to its current two-year cooling off period.
“While Iowa does have the minimum two-year cooling-off period, which is great, Iowa could extend it a little further,” Holman told The Center Square in an email.
In addition, states should consider strengthening enforcement and monitoring of such cooling-off periods, he said.
“The law on the books is great, but I doubt any agency is actually monitoring the ranks of lobbyists for violations of the revolving-door law,” Holman said. “Monitoring and enforcement of the lobby laws is a problem that I have found at all levels, especially the federal level.”
A Public Citizen news release, however, did say that state laws to curb lobbying by former officials do offer constructive examples for the federal government.
Iowa’s lobbying prohibition applies not just to elected lawmakers and holders of statewide offices but to staff members as well, according to the report.