WASHINGTON — Many top officials of the Clinton administration still are in Washington, trying to influence actions of their successors in government.
A study being released Monday by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, ranked the top 100 officials serving when President Clinton left office two years ago and found 51 now lobby the government or work for companies that do.
The center said the number is about the same as in previous administrations.
"This shows systematically what happens to an administration when they're tossed out on the street," said Charles Lewis, the center's director. "Where do they go? They basically go to the bank."
Clinton administration officials working for lobbying firms include three Cabinet secretaries — Bruce Babbitt of Interior, Dan Glickman of Agriculture and Rodney Slater of Transportation. Two others, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Defense Secretary William Cohen, have formed international business consulting groups. Others work for companies regulated by the government or serve on their boards.
Herbert Alexander, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Southern California, said the Clinton administration officials are following a well-worn path. "Public officials find it much more lucrative to continue their careers after government service through representation of special interests," Alexander said.
Glickman, a former House member, said his experience and connections are attractive to clients.
"There's no question I know a lot of people," he said. "If somebody says, 'What's this guy like on the Hill,' I can tell about my experience with him."
Clinton administration veterans also went into academia. Glickman spends most of his time running the politics institute at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Former Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who failed in an effort to become governor of New York like his father, Mario, is a senior fellow at the school.
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is president of Harvard, and ex-Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala is president of the University of Miami.
The majority, however, traveled the well-worn path from government worker to government lobbyist.
Steve Ricchetti, Clinton's deputy chief of staff, opened a lobbying firm and landed such clients as AT&T and Eli Lilly and Co. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Rudy deLeon became the chief lobbyist for Boeing Co.
Most government officials must wait one year before lobbying their former agencies. Likewise, members of Congress can't lobby their former colleagues for a year.
Shortly after taking office, Clinton issued an executive order that required officials in his administration to wait five years after leaving office before lobbying government agencies. He revoked the order in late December 2000, weeks before leaving office.
"It just means the revolving door is alive and well in Washington," Lewis said. "It doesn't matter what party you're in, the color of money is green. When you're one of the top officials in an administration, you're valuable because of your connections and your perceived clout and your perceived access."
On the Net: Center for Public Integrity: www.publicintegrity.org