If Romney wins, will lobbyists defile the White House that Obama has kept so clean and so pure? That’s what Politico suggests with this piece today headlined “Lobbyists ready for a comeback under Romney.”
President Barack Obama’s gone further than any president to keep lobbyists out of the White House — even signing executive orders to do it.
In crafting and signing those executive orders, I wonder if Obama relied on the help of White House deputy counsel Cassandra Butts (1), White House special assistant Martha Coven (2), or the chief of staff or the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Michael Strautmanis (3), all of whom were registered lobbyists. (I’m only numbering registered lobbyists.)
Politico’s Anna Palmer reports:
Industry insiders believe that Mitt Romney will unshackle the revolving door and give lobbyists a shot at the government jobs their Democratic counterparts have been denied for the past four years
Yeah, I bet those Republican lobbyists will get envious stares from the likes of Fannie Mae, Cigna, Credit Suisse lobbyist Laricke Blanchard (4), whom Obama named deputy director of policy for the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. Former teachers union lobbyist Gabriella Gomez (5) would be jealous – if her job as assistant secretary of Education gave her the time for such self-indulgence. Former crop-industry lobbyist Krysta Harden (6) must be thinking “why couldn’t I get a government job – besides my job as assistant secretary of Agriculture.”
Palmer writes of the possibility of Romney
“Allowing lobbyists back into the White House”
You mean after he kicks out the lobbyists in Obama’s White House like Patton Boggs lobbyist Emmett Beliveau (7), O’Melveny & Myers lobbyist Derek Douglas (8), and Pfizer’s, AT&T’s lobbyist at Akin Gump Dana Singiser (9)?
Romney would have to toss out Obama’s orders, which shook up how President George W. Bush did business and let Obama claim his agenda wouldn’t be hijacked by special interests.
Yes, it let Obama claim that – falsely. Remember how the stimulus was a pork fest for K Street? Remember how the drug lobby wrote much of Obamacare. Remember how Obama gave Chrysler to the UAW? Remember – oh, I could go on, but I’ll return to the Politico piece.
“there are clear signs that lobbyists could be back in the executive branch.”
Does the Department of Energy count as “the executive branch”? Because former K Street lobbyists Scott Harris (10) and Daniel Poneman (11) got jobs there from Obama. How about the office of the U.S. Trade Representative? They’ve hired Mayer Brown lobbyist Michael Punke (12), CropLife America lobbyist Isi Siddiqui (13), former Verisign lobbyist Miriam Sapiro (14), Akin Gump lobbyist Demetrios Marantis (15).
“Some of the highest-level positions in a potential Romney administration are expected be filled by former lobbyists and Washington insiders.”
Former lobbyists in some of the highest-level positions? Shock! What would HHS Secretary — and former head of the lobbying group Kansas Trial Lawyers Association – Kathleen Sebelius say? Or former NEA lobbyist, now Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (16)? Or former Fannie Mae lobbyist and Goldman Sachs consultant Tom Donilon (17), now National Security Advisor. Or even Atty. Gen. and former registered lobbyist Eric Holder (18)?
Does Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (19) hold one of “the highest-level positions”? Because he was a registered lobbyist, too.
Health care consultant Mike Leavitt, who served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency for Bush, is leading Romney’s transition effort. He’s considered a shoo-in for either White House chief of staff or Treasury Secretary.
For perspective on this, Palmer could have interviewed health-care-company consultant Tom Daschle, whom Obama originally nominated HHS secretary, and on whom Obama relied throughout the crafting of Obamacare.
And a corporate consultant as White House chief of staff? Politico could have gotten color from former Goldman consultant Rahm Emanuel who served as a political fixer for a Chicago hedge fund. Or Rahm’s successor as White House chief of staff, Bill Daley, who sat on Fannie Mae’s board.
Politico also discusses campaign fundraisers:
Romney’s campaign has also relied heavily on K Streeters to organize high-dollar fundraisers, including David Tamasi of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications”
I wonder if that makes things awkward with Tamasi’s bosses Lawrence Rasky and Joseph Baerlein, who are both top donors to Obama’s campaign – you know, the campaign that doesn’t accept lobbyist donations.
And then there are Obama’s bundlers like Sally Sussman, who runs Pfizer’s lobbying shop.
And there is certainly precedent for a Romney administration to hire lobbyists. Bush brought on many K Streeters, including Nick Calio, who had run his father’s White House legislative affairs shop, before moving on to become a hired gun.”
Yes, there’s also the precedent of Barack Obama, who brought on registered lobbyists Melody Barnes (20), Jacqueline Barrien (21), William Corr (22), Philip Crowley (23), Patrick Gaspard (24), David Hayes (25), Eric Hirschhorn (26), Sean Kennedy (27), Jon Liebowitz (28), Robert Litt (29), Elisa Montoya (30), Paul Nash (31), Mark Patterson (32), Robert Perciasepe (33), Thomas Perrelli (34), Peter Rundlet (35), Melanie Sabo (36), Susan Sher (37), Nancy Stoner (38), Thomas Strickland (39), Robert Sussman (40), Michael Taylor (41), Karl Thompson (42), John Trasvina (43), Dan Turton (44), Christine Varney (45), Richard Verma (46), William Wilkins (47), and Thomas Zoeller (48), just to name a few.
Finally in the 15th paragraph, after all of the above material suggesting no lobbyists breached the gates of Obama’s White House, Palmer hints that maybe things aren’t as pure as she’s implied:
But even Obama has felt political heat when he approved exceptions to the lobbying ban or allowed former lobbyists who deregistered to join his administration. More than a dozen former lobbyists, including Vice President Joe Biden’s current chief of staff Steve Ricchetti, have held high-profile administration jobs.
“More than a dozen”? Yes, I’d say we’ve found more than a dozen. Politico only names Ricchetti (49), Biden’s current chief of staff. But she could have named Ricchetti’s predecessor Ron Klain (50), who at O’Melveny and Myers lobbied on behalf of ImClone, Time Warner, and Fannie Mae. Or Klain’s deputy chief of staff in Biden’s office, Alan Hoffman (51), whose lobbying clients included RAND Corporation and oil giant Unocal.
Still, others argue that even Democrats have criticized Obama’s policy, which limited the administration’s choices in finding experienced aides if candidates were tainted with the “Scarlet L.”
You know who wore a “Scarlet L,” for real once? Lobbyist Heather Podesta. Her husband founded the lobbying firm Podesta Group together with Obama’s transition director John Podesta, who has visited the White House more than anyone else. The Podesta Group in 2009 won the race to hire up the first Obama administration official, as far as I can tell, plucking Oscar Ramirez from the Labor Department to be a lobbyist.
Obama’s rules bar lobbyists from serving in agencies they’ve lobbied within the past two years,
Ooh, don’t tell that to Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn (52), who was lobbying the Pentagon on Raytheon’s behalf in 2008. Or White House director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz (53) who was lobbying the White House on behalf of La Raza, or recent lobbyist Jocelyn Frye (54) hired in the Office of the First Lady.
Palmer writes that Obama’s rules also:
shut down lobbyists from serving on federal boards.
Again, this is only true on the most legalistic level. Vint Cerf works at Google with the job title “Internet Evangelist.” An “evangelist” is allowed on Obama administration advisory boards, apparently, as Cerf served on tech policy. While there he explicitly lobbied the White House, emails show. In fact, he lobbied his former colleague, former top Google lobbyist Andrew McLaughlin (55), who somehow sneaked into the White House.
In Cerf’s category is also Steve Westly, the green energy investor whom Obama put on a board advising the administration on green technology. The administration has yet to disclose Westly’s communications with the administration.
Given all this undue corporate influence already going on, imagine what would happen if lobbyists got jobs in the administration!!!