Former Senator John ‘McDreamy’ Edwards

It’s perhaps unfair to bastardize General MacArthur’s famous farewell speech to Congress, but there’s a fitting juxtaposition between informing politicians of the honor of fading away from the public scene while those very politicians run to law firms to continue lobbying their former colleagues.

It’s a career path ordained by God.

Which is why it’s newsworthy when three prominent, but out of work, political figures eschew a lobbying practice to be real lawyers…

John Edwards

This one is kind of cheating, because the firm isn’t up and running yet, but the groundwork is already laid.

Speaking of getting laid, let’s recap the tale of John Edwards. The failed 2004 VP candidate, who transitioned from “rising star” to “toxic” when he started cheating on his terminally ill wife, used campaign funds (or more accurately sought separate, yet fungible, cash from donors) to cover up the affair, fathered a kid, denied fathering the kid, finally admitted fathering the kid, and then successfully beat the rap on a charge of misusing campaign funds.

All that and he broke up with his mistress/baby mama. If the love that compelled a man to kick his dying wife to the curb cannot survive, then true love is dead.

Now Edwards has reactivated his law license and plans to open a firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. As opposed to lobbying, Edwards plans to return to his old career as an ambulance chaser — or a public interest lawyer, depending on your personal worldview when it comes to plaintiff-side lawyers.

Since Edwards made millions in his first stint as a plaintiffs’ lawyer, if this new firm is a success, he’ll never need donors to pay his hush money again.

Joe Lieberman

Former Senator Joltin’ Joe Lieberman

Joltin’ Joe Lieberman, another entrant in the failed VP sweepstakes and the man set to portray Elmer Fudd in the upcoming live action Bugs Bunny film, has joined Kasowitz Benson. Lieberman will join as Senior Counsel in the firm’s New York office, becoming just one more rich guy from Connecticut who works in Manhattan. Morning Docket already reminded us that Kasowitz has a history of short-changing the “superior legal minds” that work there, so Yale Law grad Lieberman had better watch his back.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Senator “will advise clients on independent and internal investigations and public policy and regulatory issues.” It’s a natural fit for someone with experience on the other side, as a former Connecticut Attorney General, and above the process, having served in Washington when a lot of these rules were written.

Lieberman famously threw his own Democratic Party under the bus, and when they fought back, he changed his affiliation to “Independent Democrat” and started courting Republicans on a number of issues. Does he apply his “independence” as a hackneyed tool for PR purposes? Yes he does:

“They [Kasowitz Benson] do some corporate defense work,” Mr. Lieberman said of the firm, “but they have also had the guts to sue some of the biggest banks in the world for their conduct in the credit crisis. That kind of independence… took me back to my independence.”

*eye roll*

But Lieberman deserves a lot of credit for not going the lobbyist route. His “independence” helped him build relationships in both caucuses in Washington, making him a hot commodity for those firms.

But he said he has no plans to join the ranks of former politicians who now make a living seeking to influence current lawmakers, he said. “I don’t want to be in a position ever to be lobbying my former colleagues in Congress.”

Good for him. This will give him the time he needs to finally finish Grand Theft Auto IV.

Ken Salazar

Former Secretary Ken “Life of the Party” Salazar

Finally, Ken Salazar, the recently retired Secretary of the Interior, is returning to his native Colorado to open a Denver office for WilmerHale (because catching every Broncos game on a Washington schedule is impossible).

Aside from his political career, Salazar’s only stint outside Colorado was his time at America’s Most Honest Law School, Michigan Law, where he graduated in 1981.

At his new firm, Salazar will leverage a lot of his Interior Department know-how:

Salazar’s duties at his new firm fall into what he called “three buckets.” He is to provide legal, strategic and policy advice to national and international clients; use his experience in energy, environment and natural resources; and work on tribal issues.

One thing he won’t be doing is profiting from WilmerHale’s work with BP, the company that frustrated Salazar’s tenure as Secretary of the Interior due to their “let’s just let oil pump into the Gulf of Mexico” strategy. Salazar is specifically walled off from profits earned by WilmerHale’s representation of the energy giant.

So there you have it. Three aging politicians walking away from the game (for now, anyway) and resisting the urge to become parasites on the democratic system lobbyists. Even if you’ve disagreed with them in the past, it’s worth tipping your hat to anyone willing to leave easy money on the table for principle.

And it says a lot about Washington that we’re applauding a guy who stabbed his party allies in the back and a man who cheated on his dying wife as the comparatively ethical options.

Report: John Edwards to launch Raleigh law firm [USA Today]
Joseph Lieberman Joins Kasowitz [Wall Street Journal]
Colorado’s Ken Salazar joins top law firm, will open a Denver office [Denver Post]
Michele Bachmann: ‘God Wants Me To Earn 7 Figures For A Lobbying Firm’ [The Onion]

Earlier: Morning Docket: 06.06.13
Lawsuit of the Day: Ex-Kasowitz Associate With ‘Superior Legal Mind’ Sues the Firm for $77 Million
ATL March Madness (2012): Michigan Is The Most Honest Law School


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