Throughout his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama made promises like these in just about every stump speech. In the clip above from College Park, MD, he pledged that “[lobbyists] will not run my White House and they will not drown out the voice of the American people when I am President of the United States of America.”
While generally a leftist partisan, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has a piece out today exposing just how much of a mockery the President has made of his anti-lobbyist pledge.
But on Monday, the president brought in one of this town’s most prominent lobbyists to run his White House…
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.
Ricchetti’s hiring is not a unique event. Obama’s campaign has hired Broderick Johnson, who had been a lobbyist for Microsoft, Comcast and TransCanada, the company seeking to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier, Obama administration officials got around their self-imposed rule (which prevents a lobbyist from serving for two years) by granting waivers to people Obama sought to appoint, such as former Raytheon lobbyist William Lynn, who got a top job at the Pentagon.
Most of the comments to Mr. Milbank’s column aren’t worth reading — many are excuses for Obama’s behavior, while others take solace in the fact that Obama isn’t as bad as Bush was in this regard. But my favorite comment of the bunch comes from someone named “mr_silverman”:
I voted for Obama in 2008. More than 1000 showers later, I still feel unclean.