Out Of Power, Out Of Luck

Robert Neubecker

Out Of Power, Out Of Luck

Come January, a slew of Washington officials will need new gigs. In the past, many found spots on corporate boards. But a study suggests the Democrats’ upcoming control of both Congress and the White House will make that tougher for departing Republicans. Study co-author Richard Lester of Texas A&M says Republicans will be about 30% less likely to land such posts than they would have been if the Democrats had not made a clean sweep. Beltway types get on boards because they are “bringing their Rolodex,” says Lester, who studied the post-government careers of Cabinet officers and members of Congress who left office from 1988 to 2003. “When your party is completely out of power, that Rolodex isn’t as powerful.” According to headhunting firm Korn/Ferry International, more than half of boards today include at least one former high-level government officer, up from 14% in the early 1970s. But it won’t help the class of ’09 to wait for the next election. The study, published in the current issue of the Academy of Management Journal, found that Washingtonians who don’t land a directorship within three to five years of leaving service have only a slight chance of doing so.