This year 32 House members and 3 Senators are retiring. What will they all do after they leave elected office? Well, we don’t know. We should know because Congress passed the Billy Tauzin legislation in 2007. Billy Tauzin was a Republican member of the House and played a key role is shepherding through legislation that resulted in financial benefits for pharmaceuticals. At the same time, watchdog groups alleged, then-Representative Tauzin was negotiating for a position as the head of a pharmaceutical trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The legislation required retiring members to make public disclosures of their job efforts undertaken while still serving.
Between 2008 and 2016 there were 349 retirements from the House. Only 2% of the group made disclosures about their job efforts. On the Senate side, 59 Senators resigned in the same period and 14% made disclosures about job efforts. So far for 2018 — nada. No retirees have made any disclosures.
There are only two ways to manage a conflict: don’t do it or disclose. It is not an option to not disclose and then add when questioned, “I don’t believe I have a conflict,” or “This would not influence my vote.” These are not discretionary calls. Disclosure is required. How much of a conflict it is is left to the public, and they are the ones who can then object and explain why there must be a recusal from either the vote or the job discussions. But, the public needs the information before it can voice objections.