Former Sen. Dan Coats, in line to be national intelligence director, has swung back and forth between government service and lobbying, the type of Washington revolving-door career that President-elect Donald Trump has mocked.
The Indiana Republican, 73, has made four spins through the capital’s avenues of power and has become wealthy in the process. Since the early 1980s, Coats either has served in government or earned money as a lobbyist and board director.
His most recently available Senate financial disclosure, from 2014, shows he had a net worth of more than USD 12 million.
In and out of government, Coats dealt with intelligence, which he would oversee for the Trump administration if confirmed by the Senate. Announcing his selection on Saturday, Trump cited Coats’ “deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment” and government service but did not mention his lobbying.
When Coats first left the Senate in 1999, he abided by the legally required yearlong cooling off period before joining a firm that lobbied his former colleagues on behalf of foreign clients.He resumed government service in 2001 as ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush.
In 2005, Coats returned to the United States, and to the influence industry, as a lobbyist on behalf of some of the country’s biggest companies, including defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.
Five years later, he successfully ran for his old Senate seat. Coats said he personally did no foreign agent work for those countries while he was at Verner. He said his involvement on behalf of foreign governments was limited to India.
“This is exactly how people outside of Washington think Washington works,” said Meredith McGehee, a chief at the government watchdog group Issue One. “It’s the internecine nature of policymakers getting rich off the people they once regulated.
And then to come back into the government it can be a tough task for any person to basically now bite the hand that fed you.”
Trump aides stressed that Trump’s lobbying policies are foward-looking. Spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was hiring the most qualified people for his administration.