NASHVILLE -- U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., announced Monday he has become the first elected official this election cycle to pledge not to lobby once he leaves Congress.
The Nashville Democrat, who is seeking re-election to the House, said in a statement that "the power of money is overwhelming in Washington. I've said for years that Congress has become a farm league for K Street."
Washington's K Street, where many lobby firms have their offices, has become a symbol of lobbyists who seek special favors from Congress on behalf of their clients.
Cooper said "serving the public used to be considered the highest calling; now, many see it as a stepping stone to lucrative lobbying careers. I'm proud to be the first elected official this cycle to pledge not to lobby after I leave Congress, and I hope others will join me."
Federal law already prohibits former congressmen and senators from lobbying for one year after leaving office.
The pledge signed by Cooper is promoted by Rootstrikers, a national network of activists fighting what they see as the corrupting influence of money in politics. It was founded by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.
Pledge signers promise that if they elected, they will not profit from lobbying for 10 years after serving in Congress.