HARRISBURG - Four legislators who lost reelection bids after the pay-raise debacle have found jobs in state government, while at least three others have become lobbyists, a newspaper reported.
One former legislator, Republican Peter Zug of Lebanon County, started a $55,000-a-year job last week as a licensing analyst with the state Gaming Control Board, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.
And former Scranton-area Rep. Fred Belardi now makes $116,000 annually - about 36 percent more than he did as a lawmaker - managing parking spaces and other personnel matters for his former House colleagues, the paper said.
Turning to Harrisburg as a job-placement service is a time-honored tradition for lawmakers suddenly out of work. But critics deride the practice as a sanctioned revolving-door policy."It demonstrates how out of whack public service has become in Pennsylvania," said Matthew Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative Harrisburg think tank.
"It isn't a place to serve the public. It has become an opportunity for legislators to serve themselves."Montgomery County Republican Sue Cornell was one of several legislators who lost her seat in 2006 after lawmakers voted themselves a pay raise, later repealed.
Cornell is now the in-house lobbyist for the Philadelphia Parking Authority, a quasi-state agency. Though ethics rules prevent her from lobbying the House until December, Cornell said working as manager of government relations "makes sense from a practical point of view.""If you spend years in the legislature, that's what you know," she said. "You have the contacts, and you understand how legislation moves."
Ex-Rep. Frank LaGrotta, D-Lawrence, was put on the House payroll as a legislative consultant making $73,613 annually - the same as when he was in office.
Former Rep. Kenneth Ruffing, D-Allegheny, filled a similar advisory role for three months after his term ended. Both lost in last year's spring primary.
All three legislative leaders who were defeated last year quickly made the transition to lobbyists. Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, Senate Majority Leader David "Chip" Brightbill and House Democratic Whip Michael Veon now represent groups from trial attorneys to organized labor.
---Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com, via ap