In July, then-Republic Report bloggers Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani taped an interview with Congressman Heath Shuler, Democrat of North Carolina. Shuler had announced he would retire from Congress at the end of the current session. Concerned about the revolving door culture and its corruption of our politics, our reporters asked Shuler whether he was planning to become a lobbyist after retiring. Shuler flatly told them no.
Yesterday, Duke Energy announced that it "has named Heath Shuler as senior vice president of federal affairs, effective Jan. 4, 2013... Shuler will be based in Duke Energy's Washington, D.C. office." In other words, Congressman Shuler will become a lobbyist.
Duke Energy "is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with more than $100 billion in total assets." It distributes energy drawn from oil, gas, coal, and wind power. While the company has expressed concern about climate change, it thus far has refused calls to withdraw from the controversial front group the American Legislative Exchange Council, which advances efforts to deny the reality of climate change and fights against renewable energy efforts in the states.
Helpfully, Duke Energy promises, "In accordance with U.S. House of Representatives ethics rules, Shuler will not vote on any matters affecting Duke Energy for the remainder of the 112th Congress." But after that, Shuler will be in position to use the contacts, knowledge, and power he obtained as a congressman, at taxpayer expense, to advance the goals of a powerful business interest in Washington. Or, to put it in campaign 2012 terms, who built Duke Energy's new lobbyist? We did.
Watch this exchange in the video:
Republic Report: Are you planning to become a lobbyist?
Rep. Shuler: No.
Republic Report: So you won't work for the influence industry at all after this year?
Rep. Shuler: Guys, you're barking up the wrong tree, my friends.
Republic Report: What do you plan to do after you retire?
Rep. Shuler: [WATCH THE VIDEO TO FIND OUT HIS ANSWER!]
This article also appears on Republic Report.