Frank rebukes House staffer for taking lobbying job

By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer


WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) -- House Financial Services chief Barney Frank publicly denounced a House Financial Services Committee staffer for leaving to become a lobbyist.

Peter Roberson played a key role in writing House financial overhaul legislation and will now lobby on behalf of a company that the legislation directly impacts. His new employer, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), owns the largest clearinghouse of complex financial products, otherwise known as credit default swaps.

"When Mr. Roberson was hired, it never occurred to me that he would jump so quickly from the committee staff to an industry that was being affected by the committee's legislation," Frank said in a statement.

Intercontinental had no comment other than to confirm that Roberson began working as the company's vice president of government relations in February, said spokesman Lee Underwood.

Roberson worked on the House regulatory overhaul bill, which would require trades of credit default swaps to be more transparent and traded on clearinghouses, such as the one owned by Intercontinental.

The murkiness and unregulated nature of credit default swaps contributed to a massive taxpayer bailout of American International Group (AIG, Fortune 500), which sold swaps to many Wall Street firms and banks. Exchange companies like Intercontinental eagerly await new rules requiring trades to be made on clearinghouses, and each wants to be the top go-to place for the service.

Federal law prevents Roberson from talking with House staffers on the House Financial Services panel for a year. But he's free to lobby the Senate staffers, who are in the midst of crafting similar overhaul legislation before a final Senate vote.

In Washington, it's common for congressional staffers to leave the federal government for better pay and better hours at companies that seek to influence legislation. Many lobbyists now working for banks, credit unions and derivative companies once worked for lawmakers crafting legislation.

What is unusual is Frank's public rebuke of a move.

Frank said that when he heard Roberson was in talks with the exchange firm, he removed the staffer from payroll. Frank also banned committee staff from having any contact with Roberson as long as he is the chairman of that panel. That punishment goes beyond the regular one-year ban.

"Fortunately, examples of staff members doing what Mr. Roberson has done are rare," Frank said in a statement. "But even one example is far too much and that is why I wanted to make clear I share the unhappiness of people at this."

Roberson appears to be the first in-house lobbyist for Intercontinental, which paid lobbying firms some $690,000 to lobby Congress on regulatory overhaul in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

CNN's Jessica Yellin contributed to this report. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,826.30 -279.47 -1.54%
Nasdaq 4,931.82 -75.98 -1.52%
S&P 500 2,081.18 -23.81 -1.13%
Treasuries 1.85 -0.03 -1.49%
Data as of 4:03am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.56 -0.23 -1.46%
General Electric Co 27.25 -0.03 -0.11%
Apple Inc 124.75 -1.42 -1.13%
Comcast Corp 58.42 -1.25 -2.09%
Microsoft Corp 41.62 -0.54 -1.29%
Data as of Apr 17
Sponsors

Sections

Lucas will finance 100% of the project at Grady Ranch and wants Marin County teachers and police officers to be able to live there. More

It's the second big layoff at Schlumberger this year. The oil services company cut 9,000 workers in January. More

The Smokio e-cigarette pairs with an app on your phone to keep track of how much you smoke, and how much money you've saved by not buying tobacco cigarettes. More

The home of some of the most iconic toys has teamed up with a crowdsourcing platform for inventors to find the next great toys. More