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Transparency was supposed to be one of those “changes” that Barack Obama was going to bring to the White House. Lobbyists

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Transparency like you’ve never seen before October 30, 2009 at 04:31 PM EDT ..Today marks a major milestone in government transparency — and an important lesson in the unintended consequences of such vigorous disclosure. We previously announced that the White House in December of this year would — for the first time in history — begin posting all White House visitor records under the terms of our new voluntary disclosure policy. As part of that initiative, we also offered to look back at the records created before the announcement of the policy and answer specific requests for visitor records created earlier in the year.

Like much of what we were told about the Obama White House the statement above turns out to be not entirely true.  First of all their disclosure policy was not exactly voluntary, it followed freedom of information requests from a host of organizations such as Judicial Watch.

The other thing that is not quite truthful is that we will now be able to have transparency regarding who is having influence over the White House Staff.  According a new report by Politico, White House Staffers are getting around having their visitors recorded by having their meetings outside the White House.

Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident.

“They’re doing it on the side. It’s better than nothing,” said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none.

….least four lobbyists who’ve been to the conference rooms just off Lafayette Square tell POLITICO they had the distinct impression they were being shunted off to Jackson Place — and off the books — so their visits wouldn’t later be made public.

Even though the Jackson Place site is a federal building, visitors there are not recorded for public records,  neither are visitors to the White House Conference Center and the Council on Environmental Quality, home to two of the busiest meeting spaces.
The White House denies that there is any “Hanky Panky” going on:

“The White House conference facilities are just that: facilities for large meetings. They are also an option when rooms inside the complex don’t have the capacity for a given meeting or are booked,” said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

But that’s not how it feels to some of the lobbyists who’ve been there.

“Without question, I think that there’s a lot of concern about being seen meeting with the same lobbyists or particular lobbyists over and over again,” said one business lobbyist, who has been to Jackson Place meetings.

It’s not only Jackson Place. Another favorite off-campus meeting spot is a nearby Caribou Coffee, which, according to The New York Times, has hosted hundreds of meetings among lobbyists and White House staffers since Obama took office.

It gets better, WH Staff who have met with lobbyists off premises have asked them to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from disclosing what was discussed at meetings with administration officials. According to the administration, this is done to  “maintain the integrity of our decision-making process.” But to others it smells.

But it has come under fire from lobbyists and a top House Republican, who have criticized the demand that participants sign a “gag order” before being allowed into meetings. The White House has not responded to repeated requests for comment on its nondisclosure agreement policy.

… lobbyists are particularly stung by what they see as a double standard, with Obama bashing their profession as part of what’s wrong with Washington while his staff routinely sits down with lobbyists to discuss key issues.

“When they need us, they call us. When they don’t, we’re evil,” said another lobbyist who has been to Jackson Place meetings.

Wooh, are they accusing the Obama administration of talking out of both sides of their mouths? Who’d have thought it?

During last year’s push to move comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation on Capitol Hill, the White House invited business lobbyists and executives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Restaurant Association and others to a Jackson Place meeting with senior policy staffers.

“We would like to convene a small meeting with White House staff on Friday at 12 noon (736 Jackson Place — see attached map), to discuss the current progress of CIR legislation,” a White House invitation obtained by POLITICO said.

The email was sent on a Wednesday, two days before the meeting, which left time for background checks had staffers wanted to hold the meeting at the White House. Some lobbyists suspected they were being kept outside the gates for political, rather than logistical, reasons.

“My understanding was they were holding the meeting there because it included several high-level business and trade association lobbyists,” said a senior business lobbyist who attended the meeting. “This was an effort to not have to go through the security protocols at the White House which could lead to the visitor logs at some point being released to the public and embarrass the president.”

 This was supposed to be the most transparent administration in history, instead they are the slimiest, acting the same way as other administrations but they simply lie about it .

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