AP Exclusive: Job hunt substantial part of Bayh’s last year

Evan Bayh (WLFI File Photo)
Evan Bayh (WLFI File Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Evan Bayh spent substantial time during his last year in the Senate searching for a job in the private sector, even as he cast votes on issues of interest to his future corporate bosses, according to the former Indiana lawmaker’s 2010 schedule, obtained exclusively by The Associated Press.

The Democrat held more than four dozen meetings and phone calls with head hunters and future corporate employers over the months, beginning just days after announcing his surprise retirement from the Senate on Feb. 15, 2010, through the remainder of that year as his term came to an end. Bayh is now running to get his old seat back and help his party retake Senate control.

Announcing his retirement, Bayh claimed he’d grown fed up with the gridlock and that it was time for him to “contribute to society in another way.” Two days later, on Feb. 17, Bayh was on the phone with a job headhunter.

In the months to come, Bayh met and talked repeatedly with headhunters at more than a half-dozen recruiting firms, and with officials at Apollo Global Management, Marathon Oil Co., and three other companies he would work with after his retirement: the McGuireWoods law firm, Leading Authorities, Inc. speaker’s bureau, and the investment firm RLJ Companies. At the same time the Senate was weighing major pieces of legislation, including the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill and an extension of the Bush tax cuts, and in some cases Bayh was casting votes that seemed to align with the interests of his future employers.

Under the Senate’s self-policing rules, it may all have been perfectly allowable.

A 2007 law requires senators to file a disclosure with the secretary of the Senate within three days of beginning negotiations for private-sector employment. But after the law went into effect, the Senate Ethics Committee defined negotiations as employment discussions that occur after a job offer has been made. So Bayh would not have had to disclose his job meetings to anyone, as long as they occurred prior to a solid offer.

“It’s outrageous,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist with Public Citizen who helped Democrats write the ethics language intended to eliminate conflicts of interest. “What we were unaware of at the time was how Congress would manipulate the rule so that they really don’t abide by it.”

In May, 2010, for example, Bayh lunched with a Marathon Oil board member. Then in June, he and a minority of Democrats joined with Republicans to defeat an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont that would have eliminated billions in tax deductions and exemptions for oil and gas companies.

Marathon Petroleum Corp., a new Marathon spinoff, announced Bayh had been elected to its board in July, 2011.

The AP obtained Bayh’s schedule from a source who requested anonymity because the information was private. The Bayh campaign did not dispute its legitimacy.

Bayh’s campaign said he actually supported taxing oil and gas companies in other votes.

“Evan Bayh’s career has been about standing up for Hoosiers, including taking on Wall Street Banks and Big Oil,” said spokesman Ben Ray. “Evan Bayh voted for the largest Wall Street reform in generations, voted to close the carried interest tax loophole, and voted repeatedly against tax breaks for oil companies.”

It is difficult to determine whether Bayh’s behavior was unusual, given the disclosure requirements for senators.

In at least one case Bayh’s schedule suggests that he did potentially violate Senate Ethics rules.

According to the schedules, a headhunter named Mike Flood paid for Bayh’s hotel stays on at least two nights, as well as transportation to and around New York City in November 2010. Senate rules say that such expenditures must be disclosed when they top $250, but it does not appear Bayh ever made such a disclosure.

The circumstances add to the questions about how Bayh spent his time since leaving the Senate, which has become a major campaign issue in his campaign against Republican Rep. Todd Young for the Senate seat.

Consider Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010.

The day begins with Bayh in Nantucket, staying at the waterfront mansion belonging to financier David Rubenstein.

He flies to New York, his Senate account picking up the tab for the flight, and heads to an Apollo executive’s Central Park South apartment to drop his bag.

Bayh then meets with Rob Shafir, then the chairman of Credit Suisse, before taping an appearance with Katie Couric on topics including “Reasons for your retirement from the Senate, the state of our politics (why are our politics so broken),” according to his schedule.

Bayh goes on to meet with Deutsche Bank chief executive Seth Waugh before having dinner at a steakhouse with Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.