Perhaps it was just a confluence of events that convinced Trent now was the time to quit.
After Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) announced his resignation this week, it was widely speculated that Lott was quitting in order to dodge Senate ethics standards that take effect next year. The new rules require senators to wait two years before entering “the lucrative world” of lobbying Congress. Lott denied the rumor at a press conference, saying the new law “didn’t have a big role” in his decision.
At the same press conference, Lott was also asked about Senate ethics rules regarding “negotiating with a future employer,” to which he replied that he’s “not really involved in negotiation,” but that “there are some opportunities out there” that he wants “to be able to consider”:
QUESTION: Senator, I understand there’s a rule in the Senate that if you’re negotiating with a future employer, that you must register with the Ethics Committee. Have you been down to that committee yet?
LOTT: Well, I have not yet, but I’m not really involved in negotiation. I’ve tried to stay away from that. There are some opportunities out there that I want to be able to consider, but I have nothing that we’ve agreed to or lined up.
One of the “opportunities” that Lott is considering, according to his son, Chester Lott — who is also a lobbyist — is “a partnership” with former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), who until today, was the senior counsel at a powerhouse lobbying firm. But just this afternoon, Breaux announced that he was leaving Patton Boggs in order “to form his own firm with his son, John Jr.”
I can imagine the conversation now (note, this is purely a fictional creation):
Lott: Breauzie, it looks like we're going to have to accelerate our little plan to get rich.
Breaux: Whaysthat, Trent? I thought we were good to do it in December.
Lott: Dickie's in trouble again, and with all the ruckus about the US Attorney firings, I can't afford to help him out this time.
Breaux: Ah, I see. What's the time frame?
Lott: Well, Karl's on this kick to make sure everyone resigns before scandal hits. So I'm thinking maybe in about 20 minutes.
There's a longer version of this, where I add in Trent's concerns about Larry Flynt's pictures of him with a boy for hire. But so far, that's not materializing. Yet.