Although he never claimed to be a historian, like Gingrich, he was paid high sums of money for his "consulting", which, like Gingrich, avoided the lobbying label, but...


"He sponsored at least two Senate bills and pushed to amend a mammoth Medicare overhaul to include the extra spending, which would have benefited Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based hospital management company with facilities in Puerto Rico. If it seems at odds with the small-government philosophy Mr. Santorum now espouses in his presidential campaign, it was in line with his legislative efforts to help businesses in his state."  

And some of those businesses were happy to return the favor.

Within months of leaving the Senate, Mr. Santorum joined the board of Universal Health Services, where he collected $395,000 in director’s fees and stock options before resigning last year.


John Brabender, a senior adviser to Mr. Santorum’s campaign, said Thursday that the former senator had not drastically increased his net worth since leaving Capitol Hill and that it would be wrong to link his consulting work with anything he did in the Senate.  

He made more than $3.6 million, all of a sudden.

But by the time his Senate career drew to a close, he had become an emblem for some of a pay-to-play culture on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Santorum enjoyed unusually close ties to Washington lobbyists while in office. For several years, he held regular breakfast meetings with a handpicked group of 30 to 40 power players, ostensibly to brief them on the Republican agenda. But the meetings began with a representative of the Republican National Committee circulating a list of open jobs at trade associations and other lobbying shops, according to one participant.

The jobs list was part of a carefully plotted effort by party activists and leaders to make sure these positions were filled by Republican loyalists, an effort that was championed by Tom DeLay in the House and came to be known as the “K Street Project.”

The meetings became a lightning rod for criticism during Mr. Santorum’s unsuccessful 2006 Senate re-election campaign. Mr. Santorum would later deny being part of the K Street Project, but his support for the effort was reported in several news accounts. And while he was never accused of wrongdoing, the harsh glare from the attacks ultimately forced him to step aside from his role spearheading ethics reform legislation in the wake of the scandal involving the lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In 2006, Mr. Santorum led all federal candidates in contributions from lobbyists and their family members, taking in roughly $500,000, nearly 40 percent more than the next closest candidate, Senator George Allen, a Virginia Republican, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That tightknit relationship could make it difficult for him to appeal to Tea Party members and other voters yearning for a candidate free of inside-the-Beltway taint.

“Santorum is portraying himself as this outsider, when he was really the ultimate insider,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group that was critical of Mr. Santorum’s Senate ethics record.