UPDATE: Salazar’s former Chief of Staff, Tom Strickland, who was having a grand time rafting in the Grand Canyon during the BP oil spill, also was picked up by WilmerHale after leaving the Interior Department.
We’re sure government watchdogs will see nothing wrong with BP’s law firm buying up the Interior Department leadership.
In the long standing tradition of revolving door politics, former Interior Secretary and Democratic U.S. Senator Ken Salazar has taken a job with the politically connected firm WilmerHale. The firm’s massive Government Affairs division, weighing in at 150 lawyers, would be larger than many major regional firms if it was a stand alone business. WilmerHale also happens to be the former law firm of the man who was appointed to replace Salazar in the Senate, Michael Bennet.
For obvious conflict of interest reasons, most businesses are reluctant to publicize the sensitive issue of people bouncing back and forth between legal/corporate roles and government executive posts. However, WilmerHale does not seem to shy away from this unpopular practice that has done a lot to erode the trust that Americans have in their government. In a 2009 press release, WilmerHale announced numerous attorneys leaving for positions in the Obama administration, and amazingly called those transitions “a critical feature of our core practice.”
Another interesting twist to Salazar’s employment with WilmerHale, which was pointed out in a Lynn Bartels article published yesterday evening in the Denver Post, is that BP hired WilmerHale to represent its interests before the federal government in relation to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Salazar was widely criticized for his actions as Interior Secretary as oil leaked into the Gulf for almost two months. Salazar insisted yesterday that he will not make receive any money earned from BP as a partner at WilmerHale. Apparently, at WilmerHale, cash is not a fungible asset?
And speaking of cash, Salazar disclosed in the Denver Post article that his compensation will be “a very good package.” Whoever said that government work doesn’t pay? If you would like to personally congratulate Salazar on his “very good package,” friends are hosting a welcome home party on Friday at 5:30 in the Wells Fargo Center downtown.