Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Freshly re-elected, Mo. congresswoman quitting to head National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn.

Photo by Javier Goleano,
Los Angeles Times
Jo Ann Emerson, 62, just got re-elected to Congress from Missouri, but she is quitting Feb. 8 to be CEO of her main campaign contributor, the lobby for rural electric cooperatives and local public power agencies. "Colleagues and congressional analysts expressed surprise and dismay," reports Dave Heller of the Kansas City Star. "It wasn’t immediately clear why Emerson waited until just after the November election to make her decision" to join the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The Republican from Cape Girardeau said, “I did not go seeking this opportunity, but I am excited about the new challenge it offers to find ways to promote strong rural policy.” She told reporters that she made the decision quickly, reports Erin Ragan of the Southeast Missourian. "Emerson’s office said that negotiations for her new job began Nov. 19, after the election," reports Morgan Little of the Los Angeles Times. "House ethics guidelines on what sorts of negotiations for post-congressional employment are permitted are nebulous." Emerson declined to say what her new, higher salary would be, but her predecessor made $1.9 million last year, notes Bill Lambrecht of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She will be the fourth former House member to head NRECA, Agri-Pulse notes.

The Post-Dispatch said in an editorial, "Despite Ms. Emerson’s claims to the contrary, it defies reason that this job invented itself out of thin air less than a month after she won re-election. Ms. Emerson’s elevation to the role currently held by Glenn English, himself a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma, was rumored not long after Mr. English last year announced his intention to retire." The paper noted that it had endorsed Emerson partly because she is a moderate, but then stuck it to her: "Her decision to cynically run for a post in which she never intended to serve diminishes an otherwise reasonable legacy. Ms. Emerson may well be a tremendous choice to represent rural electric cooperatives in the nation’s capital. But for now, she’s Exhibit A in the ongoing saga of why Congress has fallen to its lowest point in history in terms of its public reputation."

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/03/3946723/emerson-unexpectedly-resigns-her.html#storylink=cpy

Rural electric co-ops rely much more on coal than most other electric utilities. "The association has supported numerous pieces of legislation to pull back EPA regulatory authority, including the agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases and coal ash," notes Erica Marttinson of Politico. "The group has also lobbied on legislation to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline and repeal light bulb standards. And it has pushed bills regarding health care, retirement, cybersecurity, railroad anti-trust exemptions, broadband communications and various efforts to rein in the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. . . . By law, Emerson won’t be allowed to lobby her congressional colleagues for a year after leaving office." (Read more)

Emerson succeeded her husband, Bill, a 13-term representative who died in 1996. She was "considered one of the most moderate members of the Republican caucus," Heller notes. "Her departure reflects the continued polarization of the House, some observers said." (Read more) "She was a co-chairwoman of the Center Aisle Caucus, a group of House members from both parties who worked to promote cooperation and civil discourse in Congress," Lambrecht notes.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/03/3946723/emerson-unexpectedly-resigns-her.html#storylink=cpy

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