Remember back during the 2008 campaign, Obama promised that lobbyists “won’t find a job in my White House”? It turned out early that was “just words.” And now Obama is hiring yet another lobbyist.
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.
Ricchetti achieved this feat — getting around the ban on lobbyists serving in the administration — by using one of Washington’s most-honored traditions: the loophole. 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.
Only in today’s Washington could a president circumvent his own ban on hiring lobbyists by hiring the head of a lobbying firm.
Eric Holder, attorney general nominee, was registered to lobby until 2004 on behalf of clients including Global Crossing, a bankrupt telecommunications firm.
Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture nominee, was registered to lobby as recently as last year on behalf of the National Education Association.
William Lynn, deputy defense secretary nominee, was registered to lobby as recently as last year for defense contractor Raytheon, where he was a top executive.
William Corr, deputy health and human services secretary nominee, was registered to lobby until last year for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a non-profit that pushes to limit tobacco use.
David Hayes, deputy interior secretary nominee, was registered to lobby until 2006 for clients, including the regional utility San Diego Gas & Electric.
Mark Patterson, chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, was registered to lobby as recently as last year for financial giant Goldman Sachs.
Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, was registered to lobby until 2005 for clients, including the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, U.S. Airways, Airborne Express and drug-maker ImClone.
Mona Sutphen, deputy White House chief of staff, was registered to lobby for clients, including Angliss International in 2003.
Melody Barnes, domestic policy council director, lobbied in 2003 and 2004 for liberal advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Constitution Society and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Cecilia Munoz, White House director of intergovernmental affairs, was a lobbyist as recently as last year for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group.
Patrick Gaspard, White House political affairs director, was a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union.
Michael Strautmanis, chief of staff to the president’s assistant for intergovernmental relations, lobbied for the American Association of Justice from 2001 until 2005.
But, no, lobbyists “won’t find a job in [Obama’s] White House.” Just how stupid does he think we are?
(image credit: Ben Schumin)