With a "Rolodex second to none," Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, one year into a six-year term, has announced that he is ending his long political career to make some money.
What this means is the former Senate majority leader will soon be working for one of the huge Washington lobbying firms that specialize in influencing legislation in Congress.
With his clout, close ties and intimate knowledge of congressional interworkings, Sen. Lott will demand, and get, a million-dollar salary -- his Senate salary was $162,500. He has managed to compile a net worth in the millions during his 35 years of government service.
Lobbying experts say he will be enormously successful in their field, not only for his ability to broker deals, but also for his insight on how to get unwanted legislation derailed.
Before you choke on your Wheaties, relax. This is nothing new. Half of all Washington lawmakers who have left office in the past decade have joined the ranks of the lobbyists.
Recognizing the problems with this trend, lawmakers included a clause in the recent ethics bill that extends from one year to two years the period a member of Congress must wait before lobbying his former colleagues.
Sen. Lott will retire one day before this goes into effect.
It's obvious Congress must revisit this issue. Growing manipulation by special-interest groups is threatening to undermine our political system. The recent ethics legislation was only a Band-Aid for this inflamed boil that needs to be lanced before it turns septic and kills the patient.
More lawmakers need to get behind South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and others who are attempting to change this arrogant, self-centered "business as usual" attitude in Washington.
As sad as this is for us all, the people of Mississippi, especially those still suffering from damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, are the real losers in this scenario. Sen. Lott ran for re-election with the promise that he would continue to help in their recovery from Katrina. Thousands still live in temporary FEMA trailers waiting on their claims to be settled.
Without a representative as powerful as Sen. Lott, that fight is in greater danger of being lost.