Staff financial disclosures reveal interesting tidbits
Dick Meltzer took nearly a $1 million-a-year pay cut to leave his job as a lobbyist and work for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Bill Hughes earned $320,000 in 14 months between Senate jobs. Kathy Damato earned $192,000 working for Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) campaign - about $30,000 more than she could have made working for his official office.
These are just a few details that from the 2010 congressional staff personal financial disclosures, in which new staffers are required to list income from prior jobs and current staffers must detail any outside income.
The notes on the disclosures tell interesting stories, but they're not easy to find. All the financial disclosures are filled out by hand and filed as hard copy paper documents. In order to bring the information to our users, LegiStorm has reviewed each filing individually and manually enter the relevant data into our database. We've now completed a review of more than 2,500 personal financial disclosures filed by congressional staff in 2010 to find notable tidbits.
For example, Meltzer was hired by Pelosi as policy director last fall. The position is well-paid by congressional standards, with a salary of around $160,000. But for Meltzer, that's a huge pay cut from his previous job as a registered lobbyist for Washington Counsel Ernst and Young. According to his financial disclosure, he earned more than $1.1 million from Ernst and Young in the first nine months of 2009.
Hughes left his position as Republican staff director for the Senate Commerce Committee in Feb. of 2009 to lobby for General Electric before returning to the Capitol in April to work for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. In the 14 month span between Senate jobs, Hughes pulled in $320,000 - about twice what he can make as a staffer.
Lobbying isn't the only way staffers move to higher paychecks. Working for their boss's congressional campaign can also be much more financially rewarding than the actual official policy work. Damato's $192,000 from Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) campaign last year was far more than the cap of around $160,000 allowed for staffers. Damato recently moved to Sen. Dodd's official payroll, but her salary figures are not yet available.
We've broken down our compilation of notes from the disclosures into easily-browsed categories. We've noted staffers' outside income, including campaign work used to supplement official payrolls. For example, Sherry Brown, Sen. Joe Lieberman's state director, made $24,000 from the Friends of Joe Lieberman campaign in addition to her official salary of more than $160,000. We expect to see many more staffers next year claim substantial campaign incomes since this is an election year.
In addition, we've noted any spouse's place of employment if the employer might be an advocacy group or company doing lobbying. We've also listed prior employment in cases where the organization was likely to have positions on matters of potential concern to the Congress, as well as positions and agreements the staffers have held with organizations that might have some bearing on matters of interest to the Congress.