A new salary survey by the National Journal reveals that Washington lobbyists, trade association heads and the leaders of the capital's ubiquitous think tanks got a 30 percent raise last year and 89 top executives received compensation topping $1 million.
Consider these eye-popping numbers for the capital's elite:
- $6.76 million in compensation and exit pay in 2008 for Marc Lackritz, the now-retired head of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. That bundle made him the highest paid exec in Washington.
- $5.57 million for John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable.
- $4.48 million for Billy Tauzin, the departing CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, who came to the drug industry group after shepherding through Medicare prescription drug coverage as a congressman from Louisiana.
- $3.99 million for Scott Serota, CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the health insurance giant.
"It's hard for the rational mind to justify, given the economy," Pamela Kaul, president of executive search firm Association Strategies, told the magazine. "But it's the mystique of Washington. These are the power brokers that have the access to networks and relationships."
The survey scoured 514 tax forms for pay from 2007 to 2009. New IRS rules for lobbyists revealed, for the first time, just how well they are paid and why the hallway outside any Capitol Hill hearing room is known as Gucci Gulch:
- Jack Gerard, who as CEO at the American Petroleum Institute is the point man for "Big Oil": $1.64 million for his four months at the institute in 2008.
- Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $1.13 million.
- Richard Pollack, executive vice president of advocacy and public policy at the American Hospital Association: $1.15 million.
- Alexander Flint, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute: $788,042.
National Journal found the average compensation for top officers at the 514 organizations surveyed was $666,270, with the lowest-paid exec making $90,000.