Santorum: I Cashed Out Because I Care

| Sat Jan. 7, 2012 10:37 PM EST
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

During Saturday's GOP Primary debate, Rep. Ron Paul accused Rick Santorum of being a "big government person" who exploited his beltway connections with lobbyists to get wealthy after losing his Senate seat in 2006. Santorum insisted that he only took a series of high paying "consulting" jobs because he believed in the causes. 

"I'm known in this race and I was known in Washington, DC, as a cause guy. I am a cause guy. I care deeply about this country and about the causes that make me —that I think are at the core of this country," Santorum said. "And when I left the United States Senate, I got involved in causes that I believe in." 

Santorum was one of the less wealthy members of the Senate during his tenure, though as the main gatekeeper for the "K-Street Project," the attempt to place Republicans in influential positions in DC lobbying firms, Santorum developed plenty of key connections with lobbying firms and trade associations. After leaving Congress those connections proved financially beneficial. Financial disclosure forms filed last year indicate that Santorum went from making around $200,000 a year to more than a million dollars in 2010.

As part of the board of directors of Universal Health Services, Santorum made $395,000 in 2010 from a company that was sued by the Justice Department over Medicaid fraud for allegedly billing the government for psychiatric services to children it never provided. As a "consultant" for Consol Energy, Santorum was paid $142,500 in 2010. Santorum has had a long and beneficial relationship with Consol, who also donated $73,800 to his campaigns over the years. Santorum also made $65,000 from American Continental Group, a high-powered lobbying firm that largely gives money to Republicans. While Santorum might not have been a lobbyist in the strictest legal definition of the term, these groups generally hire old Washington hands like the former Pennsylvania senator because they help open doors in Washington.

Whether Santorum really cares deeply about the issues he was paid to work on is anyone's guess. But he certainly got paid well for it.