Craig granted the interview to Mark Bieter, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and journalist, who is Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's younger brother.
Craig and his former chief of staff, Michael Ware, operate New West Strategies, a lobbying firm whose clients include Murray Energy Corp. and Operation Military Family. A Republican, Craig retired from the Senate in 2009 after 28 years in Congress.
Craig, 66, also spent six years in the Idaho Senate before he was elected to the U.S. House in 1980. Craig told Bieter that adjusting to the private sector was difficult.
"I was used to having a staff," Craig said during the interview conducted at his office in the Watergate complex in Washington. "Now I’m the guy who does the research. The whole time I was in Congress, I never had a computer on my desk. I did have a BlackBerry, but eventually when I got a computer I had to ask my wife how to email people."
Craig said he turned down some "handsome offers" from larger firms and found that building a client base with a boutique firm was no snap.
"When you have significant experience in Congress, it’s assumed you’ll have clients come to you automatically. But that’s not the case," Craig told Bieter. "You have to hustle, and you always hustle. The funny thing is that those you expected to hire you, don’t hire you. You have to get out and work for it. I still have to cold call, and do maybe 15-20 of them a year. But I have a number of very good clients. I work largely on issues related to energy and the EPA and veterans’ groups."
According to New West's lobbying reports for 2011, Murray Energy, a major coal producer, paid the firm $200,000 to lobby on greenhouse gas climate change issues. Operation Military Family paid $30,000 to lobby on veterans' benefits in 2011.
Bieter was an aide to former Democratic Rep. Larry LaRocco, who succeeded Craig in the House. He now runs his own law firm in Washington.
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