- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

They’re out of Congress and out of work.

A handful of incumbents who lost last fall have yet to land new full-time jobs.

They include former Reps. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican; Thelma Drake, Virginia Republican; and Nick Lampson, Texas Democrat. There’s also former New Hampshire Republican Sen. John E. Sununu, whose latest Washington assignment is only part time.

A former top Bush administration official, too, has had trouble finding work. Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales resigned under fire in September 2007.

A federal prosecutor is looking into whether Mr. Gonzales, other Bush administration officials or Republicans in Congress should face criminal charges in the firings of U.S. attorneys.

“With respect to employment, listen, I can understand in a very tough economy, some employers are going to be very hesitant about bringing someone like me on when you have an ongoing investigation,” Mr. Gonzales said in a CNN interview this month.

Mr. Shays, 63, who was New England’s last Republican House member, has had a similarly rough time.

After narrowly losing his bid for an 11th term to Democrat Jim Himes in November, Mr. Shays has gotten a painful lesson in the darker side of campaign finance. He must sort out what happened to more than $190,000 he says may have been embezzled from his failed re-election bid.

Ironically, the man who crusaded on Capitol Hill for years against the corrosive influence of money in politics needs to raise cash to cover his campaign debt.

While he tackles the money mess, Mr. Shays is weighing job prospects. His one-time foe, Mr. Himes, has sought support from colleagues in urging President Obama to appoint Mr. Shays to head the Peace Corps. Mr. Shays is a former Peace Corps volunteer.

“He’s busy exploring and evaluating his various opportunities and determining what his next move is going to be,” said Michael Fox, a Shays spokesman.

Mr. Shays has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against his former campaign manager, Michael Sohn, about the missing money.

Mrs. Drake, 59, a former two-term Virginia congresswoman, is taking time off to enjoy her grandchildren before deciding her next career step. She was a real estate agent for more than 20 years.

“I am just slowing it down for a little while,” she said in an e-mail. “I am catching up with friends, doing things I could never get to and I did not want to rush into the next adventure. I want to decide what that is.”

The Republican who represented Virginia Beach and parts of Norfolk, Hampton and the Eastern Shore said she won’t decide about running again for a few months. Mrs. Drake lost a bitter fight to Democrat Glenn Nye.

Mr. Lampson found himself out of work after failing to win a second term in a conservative Republican district. He won the seat after former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay resigned. Mr. Lampson, 64, said he’s been enjoying his time off “playing.”

“I’m trying to do something constructive, even though I don’t get paid for it,” said Mr. Lampson, adding that he has a few job options and will soon make a decision.

Mr. Sununu, 44, who lost his Senate seat last fall in a rematch against Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, is juggling new assignments and weighing his future.

He popped up recently on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to spar over the nation’s economic crisis.

He’s also serving on the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a part-time post monitoring the government’s bailout of financial institutions. Time Warner Cable Inc. recently announced he will be joining the company’s board.

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