The article by Darren Samuelsohn looks at the roles that seven former NRDC staffers have taken on Capitol Hill:
The "NRDC mafia," as a former employee of the organization put it, is largely centered in Democratic offices on Capitol Hill. In February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hired the group's legislative director of six years, Karen Wayland, to serve as her top staffer on energy and environmental issues.I don't know if seven former employees is enough to call it a mafia; nor am I clear on what the meaning of that mafia label is in this context, but this is an interesting story in that it seems to be the flip side of the revolving door between industry and government that has always existed in Washington, but which had a significant impact on environmental issues in the Bush White House. Rather than oil and gas industry executives leaving their high-paid jobs to help stifle climate legislation and other environmental goals, here we have a handful of seasoned climate researchers who are moving in to government positions to help shape responsible federal policy on global warming, clean energy and other topics NRDC has well established positions on.
Other NRDC officials now working for lawmakers: Melissa Bez, a professional staffer for House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.); Eben Burnham-Snyder, spokesman for Markey's select committee [and whose work we've featured on GreenBiz in the past --ed.]; Brad Crowell, environmental aide to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); and Chris Murray in Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-Ind.) office.
Also of note is David McIntosh, a former air pollution attorney at NRDC who until last year worked as the lead legislative author on global warming issues for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). McIntosh last month took a job as senior legislative adviser to U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
And there's a fundamental difference between NRDC staffers taking up spots in Washington and oil execs moving to the Hill for a few years. According to an unnamed NRDC source in the article: "We can't equate our revolving door with industry. Theirs involves millions of dollars. Ours doesn't. And won't ever. People go from modest means in nonprofits to modest means in government. It's not about the money."
Capitol photo CC-licensed by Flickr user BlankBlankBlank.