There’s a definite career path in high-level politics. First you get elected and serve for a while. Then you leave, hang up a shingle and cash in on all those contacts you made in office by becoming a lobbyist.
The list of former Louisiana politicians who’ve followed this pattern is long. John Breaux, Billy Tauzin, J. Bennett Johnston and, most recently, Mary Landrieu are just a few of the bold-faced names who’ve made the switch.
Then there’s Bob Livingston, the former Metairie congressman and almost-House speaker, who turned a humiliating departure amid reports of marital infidelity into a thriving lobbying practice.
Despite his abrupt resignation from Congress amid the Bill Clinton impeachment drama, Livingston remained an insider’s insider, even as he forged controversial connections with potentially radioactive clients, including, for a time, Libya under Moammar Gadhafi.
But it was his enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy for the Republican nomination last week that apparently proved the last straw for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, an avid backer of Democrat Hillary Clinton. The Landrieu administration ended its business relationship with Livingston’s firm after he made the endorsement, citing a need for bipartisan representation in D.C.
The city needs help not just from Congress but also from President Barack Obama, officials noted. Trump, of course, spent years plying false rumors that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as president.
Maybe Livingston’s banking on a Trump presidency, and if so, perhaps his early support will pay off. But taking Trump’s side is bound to alienate not just Democrats but many of his fellow Republican insiders, the ones who see the billionaire reality show host’s rise as toxic to their party’s chances in November — not to mention its long-term reputation.
It’s a pretty risky business move, particularly for a lobbyist who should know better than anyone that the way to get rich is to get along.
Grace Notes is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.