Tom Suozzi retired from Congress — and more than tripled his income in just a year.
He's now running in the February 13 special election to replace George Santos.
His financial disclosures offer a rare glimpse into how former lawmakers cash in when they retire.
When members of Congress leave their jobs, many of them become even wealthier than they were before.
Whether that means becoming a lobbyist, taking on ceremonial board positions and consulting gigs, or giving paid speeches, former lawmakers are often courted by those looking to leverage their fame, knowledge of Capitol Hill, or relationships with their former colleagues.
"Members of Congress, like most people at that level, have lots and lots of options," said Daniel Schuman, the director of governance at the POPVOX Foundation, in a recent interview.
But while the revolving door is a well-publicized phenomenon, it's rare that the public gets a detailed look at what that looks like in the immediate wake of a retirement.
Enter former Rep. Tom Suozzi.
The Long Island Democrat, who represented New York's 3rd congressional district from 2017 to 2023, is now running for his old seat again in the February 13 special election to replace his scandal-plagued and recently expelled Republican successor, George Santos.
Under federal law, both Suozzi and his Republican opponent, Mazi Pilip, are required to file documents detailing their assets, income, and other information covering the previous year.
The bottom line: Suozzi more than tripled his income after leaving Capitol Hill.
Consulting fees, a board position, and $35,000 from a pharmaceutical company
Altogether, Suozzi disclosed earning $652,500 in regular income in the last year — roughly 3.75 times the amount he was paid as a lawmaker.
$535,000 of that sum came in the form of fees paid to Suozzi Consulting, a limited liability company that the former congressman established the same month he left Congress.
As required by law, Suozzi listed 7 clients that paid him more than $5,000, including several construction and development corporations in New York, a local community bank, and Actum LLC, a global consulting firm which he joined as co-chair in February 2023.
Suozzi was also paid $82,500 by Global Industrial, an industrial equipment distributor, after joining the company's board in January 2023.
"Tom brings a wealth of public sector expertise to the Board which we value both from an industry and governance perspective," said Richard Leeds, the executive chairman of the company, in a statement at the time. "We look forward to benefiting from his contributions."
The former congressman was also paid a $35,000 salary by Hercules Pharmaceuticals, a drug distributor based in the district.
While still a member of Congress, he called for a more "considered, deliberative process" for tackling skyrocketing drug costs after meeting with that company's president in 2017, dismissive efforts to "find someone to blame all the time."
Beyond his new streams of income, Suozzi continued to generate thousands of dollars in income from other investments, including stocks and day camps owned by owned by New York Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs.
As a member of Congress, Suozzi faced scrutiny from congressional investigators for failing to disclose stock transactions on time.
Mazi Pilip's disclosures: irregularities and up to $75,000 in Bitcoin
Pilip, currently a Nassau County legislator, did not disclose the same level of income — but an initial version of her financial disclosure contained irregularities, as first reported by The New York Times.
Additionally, Pilip reported owing between $100,000 and $250,000 to the IRS, which her amended disclosure says has now been fully paid off.
Pilip also disclosed owning between $16,000 and $75,000 in Bitcoin and at least $50,000 in stock in Artificial Intelligence Technology Solutions, a company that specializes in robotics and AI.
Neither candidate appears to have committed any wrongdoing, and both have displayed more transparency than Santos, who failed to even file a financial disclosure for 2023 and has been indicted by federal prosecutors in part for lying on previous disclosures.
Furthermore, Suozzi arguably wasn't looking to have a retirement in the private sector in the first place, at least this soon: He vacated his seat to run for governor in 2022, only to lose to Gov. Kathy Hochul.
But the income Suozzi has disclosed since last year underscores arguments that ethics experts and congress reform advocates alike have long made about the revolving door, and the need for lawmakers to be paid greater salaries while in office in order to reduce the incentive to cash in after leaving.
"When you pay [lawmakers] enough, their incentives to go and be looking to get paid elsewhere diminish, and they become better public servants," Schuman told BI last week. "That's just human nature."
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