Part of the “change” President Obama was going to bring to Washington was that he wasn’t going to stink up his administration with lobbyists. But he’s hired a few of them. And he just hired another.
Steve Ricchetti, who has been one of Washington’s leading Democratic lobbyists, will go work as a senior adviser to Vice President Biden.
Writes Dana Milbank of the Washington Post:
Steve Ricchetti, whose long list of lobbying clients included Fannie Mae, General Motors, the American Hospital Association and Eli Lilly, was tapped to be counselor to Vice President Biden.
General Motors? Fannie Mae? No possible conflict of interest there.
How did he do it? Technically, he’s not a lobbyist.
Just as Obama won the presidency, Ricchetti de-registered as a lobbyist for his various clients. But he remained president of the lobbying firm that continued to work for many of those same clients, as well as a few more, such as the American Bankers Association.
I ask you, what is more corrupting, lobbyists or hypocrisy?
I really don’t have a big problem with lobbyists. Most of them I know are committed both professionally and ideologically to what they are doing. Obama and the nation could benefit from their advice because they understand Washington and the issues before it.
And the lobbyists I’ve known who have entered the White House have, as far as I could ever tell, served one master: the president.
Once Obama was elected, A Democratic lobbyist I know told me that tons of his colleagues were de-registering in order to “get clean” so they could go work in the administration, which you can do if you haven’t been a lobbyist for two years. Some pulled maneuvers like Ricchetti did, while others went to work for Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Ricchetti is not just any lobbyist. He was former Deputy Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton. He’s known around town as one of the smartest, best connected, and most circumspect operators you can find on K Street. He will wage enormous influence and possibly wind up in the White House if Obama wins a second term.
Or he’ll go back to lobbying.