The Nation has pointed out that Rep. Heath Shuler, a soon-to-be Duke Energy lobbyist, had as recently as July claimed he had no intention of entering the profession after his term expired – and that the moderate Democrat is still helping lead House negotations in deciding how to navigate the so-called fiscal cliff.
Shuler announced Monday he will assume the title of federal government affairs the day after his term ends.
But when he was pressed by The Nation's Lee Fang and blogger Zaid Jilani in Washington while walking from his car and apparently talking on the phone to his wife, the following interaction was caught on video:
FANG: It’s been reported a month or two ago that you’re already negotiating for a lobby job because you’re retiring this year
SHULER: Ha! No, I’m on the phone with my wife.
FANG: But you’re not even negotiating with the Majority Group, or any of these other lobbying firms on K Street?
SHULER: Nope. You read it wrong, buddy. […] Rob worked for me; Walt was my colleague. I can have a conversation with them if I want to.
FANG: Are you planning to become a lobbyist?
JILANI: What do you plan to do after you retire?
SHULER: Have a better job than you guys have, that’s for sure.
Shuler is not allowed to vote on any legislation that would affect the Duke Energy's business, but Fang said the following of Shuler's position and the fine line he walks:
Though Shuler has already accepted the position with Duke Energy, he is still helping to lead a bipartisan coalition, along with Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID), to deal with the “fiscal cliff.” Shuler has promised an “all options” approach, one that will undoubtedly affect his soon to be employer. Duke Energy benefits from a host of tax subsidies, so much so that Citizens for Tax Justice found that the company paid an effective tax rate of negative 3.9 percent from 2008–10 while making over $5.5 billion in profit.