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Washington • Former Sen. Bob Bennett didn't wait long before transitioning to his career after political office. In fact, he didn't wait at all.
Bennett's Senate service ended on Jan. 3, and that day he joined the mega-law firm Arent Fox, advising companies that have business before Congress.
The firm unveiled Tuesday that it hired Bennett and former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., as senior policy advisers to its growing lobbying division.
"They will add a tremendous amount of proven strategic, policy and business expertise that is important to our clients and our law firm," said Arent Fox Chairman Mark Katz.
Bennett and Dorgan are not lawyers and they must wait two years before they can register as lobbyists, though both men said they had no intention of doing so.
Bennett said lobbying is "an honorable profession" and noted that he worked as a lobbyist years before he became a senator in 1992.
"But I don't really have a desire to go back to that," he said.
Instead Bennett will split his time between Arent Fox's D.C. and Los Angeles offices, working with international clients, while Dorgan will become the division's co-chairman.
At the same time, Bennett has created his own lobbying firm, Bennett Consulting Group, staffed primarily by former Senate and campaign employees.
"I think we will be able to keep things sorted out in such a fashion that there won't be a conflict," he said on a conference call with reporters.
Bennett and Dorgan said they did not make a joint decision to join the firm, though their careers have been intertwined for some time. They were both elected in 1992 and finished their careers as the top Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water. Dorgan decided not to run for a fourth term, while Bennett lost his re-election campaign at the state convention.
They also signed up with the Leading Authorities speakers bureau recently, though the fees they charge are not listed publicly.
Beyond his work at Arent Fox and Bennett Consulting Group, Bennett has taken positions with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington and the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.
Some government watchdogs have criticized politicians for capitalizing on their congressional experience after leaving office. When asked about this Tuesday, Bennett responded: "Is there anything in the Constitution that forbids me from earning a living? I have skills, people want to pay me for my skills, I want to earn a living and this is the way I do it."
Asked how much Arent Fox is paying him, Bennett responded simply: "Enough."
The three-term senator wasted no time in switching to a new career signing on with one of Washington, D.C.,'s major lobbying firms. Bob Bennett says he will not lobby but will provide strategic advice to international clients.