The Wall Street Journal reports:
Recruiters from the McCormick Group, an Arlington, Va., head-hunting firm, have approached law firms in Washington to gauge their interest in hiring Kevin M. Downing, the government lawyer who led the tax-evasion case against Swiss bank UBS AG, said people who have seen the pitches....The people said some law firms that represent the big financial and tax firms hit by the U.S. crackdown are on the receiving end of the pitches.
The Journal says Mr. Downing may have to recuse himself from some matters involving firms where he is job-hunting.
We've said before that we don't think taking a government job should have to mean a lifetime oath of poverty, but it seems like the government could impose some kind of cooling-off period. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence. One idea would be for the government to keep a claim -- say, 50% in the first two years, diminishing over time -- of the future earnings of the difference between the pre-government-service earning of a person and the post-government-service earning. That would make it less lucrative for government employees who try to monetize their public sector experience in the private sector, or at least assure that the government gets a share of the value it created in the employee.
You could argue that policy should encourage talented employees to enter the private sector rather than to stay as lifetime government employees. And you could argue that the high tax rate would discourage productivity among recently departed government employees. And you could argue that the bureaucracy is so complicated and difficult to navigate that the only way for private sector firms to navigate it is to assure that former government employees are available to help the private sector actors navigate the red tape. Still, the revolving door has gotten to the point that at a certain point you start to wonder if some of the government employees are actually there primarily to serve the public or to increase their future ability to cash in on their government experience and connections.