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Obama Puts Out the Welcome Mat for Lobbyists

by Keith Koffler on May 21, 2012, 9:48 am

A new piece in the Washington Post shreds to shards President Obama’s claim to run an administration devoted to reining in lobbyists. The article makes clear that the Obama White House is in fact crawling with lobbyists trying to win friends and influence powerful people for their clients.

From the piece:

It was an unremarkable January day, with a steady stream of lobbyists among the thousands of daily visitors to the White House and the surrounding executive office buildings, according to a Washington Post analysis of visitor logs released by the administration . . .

The visitor logs for Jan. 17 — one of the most recent days available — show that the lobbying industry Obama has vowed to constrain is a regular presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The records also suggest that lobbyists with personal connections to the White House enjoy the easiest access.

The White House visitor records make it clear that Obama’s senior officials are granting that access to some of K Street’s most influential representatives. In many cases, those lobbyists have long-standing connections to the president or his aides. Republican lobbyists coming to visit are rare, while Democratic lobbyists are common, whether they are representing corporate clients or liberal causes.

The Obama claim on the lobbying issue is that he has halted the “revolving door” by not hiring lobbyists. This is mostly true, though he’s brought in a couple, and some lobbyists have de-registered in order to “get clean” so they could eventually come work for Obama.

But the Can’t-Work-Here policy has done deceptively little to “clean up” Washington.

My experience with lobbyists – and I got to know  a lot of them during my work as a mainstream reporter – is that they become creatures of whoever they work for. Like all of us. Trade a Washington Redskin to the Dallas Cowboys, and he becomes a Dallas Cowboy.

So while bad things sometimes happen, most lobbyists that go to work in an administration put the administration first, not their once or future clients.

What’s more, by keeping lobbyists out of the administration, Obama has lost one of the best sources of knowledge he could have about Washington’s issues and processes.

The main thing Obama would need to do to keep lobbyists from “tainting” his precious policymaking is to put a lobbyist mosquito net around the White House to keep them out. And that, the Post makes clear, he has not done.

It’s also worth noting that a White House supposedly devoted to openness and bipartisanship is open only to Democratic points of view on legislation and issues. Republican lobbyists are pretty much barred.

One special moment in the piece was the spin the offered by a White House aide attempting to beat down the story:

“The people selected for this article are registered lobbyists, but this article excludes the thousands of people who visit the White House every week for meetings and events who are not,” he said.

This is exactly like if a suspect admitted to investigators, “Sure, I murdered him, but there are thousands of people I didn’t murder. Let’s focus on that.”

Gosh, they could really do a little better than this in the West Wing spin room.

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{ 18 comments }

Rick May 21, 2012 at 10:13 am

Silver lining: WP would NEVER have printed such a story in 2008. Maybe the media (with the obvious exception of Keith) will start doing their job now.

Jojo May 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

One can only hope…

Susan May 21, 2012 at 10:47 am

Don’t expect WAPOC to start carrying the torch of liberty, they are solidly in the tank for the algae king.

Susan May 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Just2old May 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

Honest reporting from the WaPo? Be still my beating heart! Still doesn’t make up for the Romney bully story…for that, they should be ashamed!

gobnait May 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

Quelle surprise.

srdem65 May 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

If the lobbyists are working for business concerns, they’re not doing a very good job for their clients. The Obama administration isn’t very business friendly with the exception of their political cronies or donors.
As for their efforts to lean legislation to their clients leftists views, Congress isn’t passing anything and won’t do so until after the election.

They’re always ‘there’; in the halls of Congress, in the State houses, city hall corridors, and they’re not going to go away.

Keith Koffler May 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Good points, srdem.

Girly1 May 21, 2012 at 11:09 am

The numbers are extraordinary! Per FOX news – 12,655 regiistered lobbyists who actively lobbied; 2M plus visits; 1.3 distinct names; total spending by lobbyists – $3.2B – more than the GDP of 52 countries!

Just wait til President Romney takes office in 2013 – the massive real estate bubble on K Street will implode, new restaurants will close, and the unemployment lines will double!

SnarkEsq. May 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Wow, I hadn’t read the specifics yet. That’s something else!

Susan May 21, 2012 at 11:39 am

Pay to play…it’s the Chicago way. Wouldn’t doubt if that is how the algae king and the lobster queen amassed their $10 million fortune. It certainly wasn’t from the fruits of their labor, as evidenced by the paucity of work history.

Keith Koffler May 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Algae kind and the lobster queen . . . LOL . . . Like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

OldTimer May 21, 2012 at 11:45 am

The term “lobbyists” was coined by President Grant. At the end of the work day he would walk to the Willard Hotel where he took an easy chair in the lobby and enjoyed his brandy and cigar. There would be people hanging out in the lobby in order to make requests. He labeled them lobbyists.

SnarkEsq. May 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Interesting!

The Original May 21, 2012 at 11:48 am

So, they are counting these “thousands” who come to the WH as tourists as a defense against their hypocritical stand on lobbyist? Oh, please. How stupid do they think we are!!

Rick May 21, 2012 at 11:58 am

@TO, obviously VERY stupid…… :>) but we’ll surprise them come November

Car in May 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Oh, please. How stupid do they think we are!!

That will be DETERMINED in November.

Sadie May 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Not so much reining lobbyists, but “reigning” lobbyists.
Not so much a welcome mat, but a welcome mattress.
Not so much a revolving door, but an open door.