Senate Majority Project

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Maybe it was the "Zell-tinis"

Just when you thought the long sad story of Zell Miller couldn’t get any weirder… the Washington Post reports today that the former Democrat, who bashed lobbyists, adamantly insisted that he would not be a lobbyist, and railed that special interests have destroyed the Senate, has now (wait for it) .... registered as a lobbyist.

Even before he left the Senate, Miller signed up with the government relations practice of McKenna Long & Aldridge, a firm with more than 20 lobbyists representing defense contractors, pharmaceutical makers, and insurance companies. However, Miller adamantly denied he would be a lobbyist:
“one thing he won't be is a lobbyist, he insisted. ‘I'm not going to be walking any halls of the Capitol or taking any folks out for a steak dinner,’ [AP, 12/8/2004]
While McKenna didn't greet Miller with a steak dinner, they did throw him a fancy cocktail party that let him schmooze with other defense lobbyists and Pentagon brass over “Zell-tinis” made from vodka, peach schnapps, and mint leaves.

During his one term in the Senate, Miller complained that "elected officials are beholden to these special interest groups." His answer to the problem was to propose eliminating the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which instituted the direct election of senators:
The Senate has become just one big, bad, ongoing joke, held hostage by special interests, and so impotent an 18-wheeler truck loaded with Viagra would do no good. … Today State governments have to stand in line because they are just another one of the many special interests that try to get Senators to listen to them, and they are at an extreme disadvantage because they have no PAC. … It is the Senate's sorriest of times in its long, checkered, and once glorious history.
Now, according to Senate filings, Miller is a full-fledged, federal lobbyist, registering to lobby for Hercules Inc in September 2005. The Post also reported that Miller will have another lobby disclosure filed soon for luxury transatlantic air carrier Eos Airlines.

(Maybe because he is so ashamed about the role of special interests in the Senate, Miller failed to disclose that he even served in the Senate, as he is required to by federal lobbyist disclosure law.)

Miller is legally barred from contacting Senators until January 2006. But even then, don’t expect too many of his former colleagues to roll out the welcome mat for the senator who betrayed his party as easy as he betrayed his promise not to be a lobbyist.

Then again, when it comes to Zell Miller, things can always change.