Two top staffers within North Carolina’s congressional delegation are among at least 130 chiefs of staff and legislative directors who are former lobbyists, according to a report out this week from the Center for Responsive Politics and Remapping Debate.
There currently are about 990 staffers in top roles in House and Senate offices, according to the report.
Thomas P. O’Donnell, chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, is a former lobbyist for Crowell & Moring, Patton Boggs and Pillsbury Winthrop.
Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, hired him earlier this year to take over her Senate office. O’Donnell’s past clients included Waste Management, the Interactive Skill Games Association and Sybase, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He also is a former chief of staff for the National Economic Council and Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton era.
And in the office of U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, Elaine Acevedo is a former lobbyist. She worked for Downey McGrath Group, Evans Capitol Group, Florists Transworld Delivery Association and Birch, Holton et al., according to the report.
Acevedo now serves as legislative director for Ellmers, a Dunn Republican.
Her past clients, on issues including health services and computers, included Allied Telesis, Center Point Inc., and Rehaks Contracting.
In the Center’s release, its top official questioned the potential conflict of interest of former lobbyists working in top Capitol Hill jobs.
"The bottom line is that many of the most powerful congressional staffers, who are now responsible for working on behalf of the public's interest, used to make a living convincing the government to benefit a client's special interest," said Sheila Krumholz, the Center's executive director. "Such relationships could present conflicts of interest and deserve continued scrutiny."