One of the many targets the President attacked during his SOTU were lobbyists:
To close that credibility gap we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.
That’s what I came to Washington to do. That’s why – for the first time in history – my Administration posts our White House visitors online. And that’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.
But we can’t stop there. It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration or Congress. And it’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.
That statement about excluding lobbyists from policy making Jobs is an out right lie. The White House is full of them. Timothy Carney reported in his Wash. Examiner this morning that the President’s statement:
is belied by the dozens of former lobbyists currently serving in his administration, including in policy-making jobs.
For instance, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was a lobbyist for the National Education Association in March of 2008. He is exempted from Obama’s ethics rules because his Cabinet job is not relevant to his recent lobbying work
In the field agriculture, two former lobbyists –Monsanto’s Michael Taylor and CropLife America’s Isi Siddiqui — have been named to policy-making jobs. Their lobbying stints, however, were outside the two-year window covered by the executive order.
William J. Lynn, a lobbyist for leading defense contractor Raytheon received a waiver from Obama in order to serve as deputy secretary of defense.
Treasury Department Chief of Staff Mark Patterson, on the other hand, has not received a waiver although he was a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as late as April 2008, lobbying on issue areas such as monetary policy, tax policy, and financial policy.
At least 16 former registered lobbyists serve in the Obama administration.
Despite the fact that the President has many of these lobbyists serving in his administration, last night he tagged them as political lepers. But that was last night, today is a brand spanking new day.
Today President Barack Obama’s administration invited K Street lobbyists to join private briefings on a range of topics addressed in Wednesday’s State of the Union.
The Treasury Department on Thursday morning invited selected individuals to “a series of conference calls with senior Obama administration officials to discuss key aspects of the State of the Union address.”
The invitation, which went to a variety of stakeholders, was sent by Fred Baldassaro, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Office of Business Affairs and Public Liaison.
The invitation stated, “The White House is encouraging you to participate in these calls and will have a question and answer session at the end of each call. As a reminder, these calls are not intended for press purposes.”
The calls are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, with the first topic being job creation and economic growth.
Another call, at 1 p.m., is on government reform and transparency. Republicans have criticized the Obama White House for not being more transparent in its discussions with Congress on healthcare reform. Obama recently acknowledged that the legislative process has not been as open as he promised on the campaign trail.
Other issues that will be addressed on Thursday include education, climate change and healthcare reform.
A handful of lobbyists told The Hill on Thursday morning that they received the invitations and were planning to call in.
Some lobbyists say they are extremely frustrated with the White House for criticizing them and then seeking their feedback. Others note that Democrats on Capitol Hill constantly urge them to make political donations.
One lobbyist said, “Bash lobbyists, then reach out to us. Bash lobbyists [while] I have received four Democratic invitations for fundraisers.”
But that is the President’s practice, he uses you one day and throws you under the BUS the next. Just ask Reverand Wright or his Grandma.
Lobbyists say the Obama White House has held many off-the-record teleconferences over the past year.
For example, lobbyists and others were invited to a teleconference with “senior Obama administration officials” on Monday to discuss the administration’s plan to improve the lives of middle-class families.
The invitation, which is addressed to “Friends,” emphasizes in bold and italics that “this call is for background information only and not intended for press purposes.” It advises callers to tell the operator “you’re joining the ‘White House Briefing Call.’ ”
How could he brief them, during his SOTU speech he said they had cooties. But another lobbyist said these types of teleconferences occur “all the time” (well maybe it isn’t a bad case of cooties).
And that is why many on K Street are exasperated with Obama’s use of lobbyists as a punching bag. Some have said they understood why he used strong rhetoric on the campaign trail but are irritated the White House solicits their opinions while Obama’s friends in Congress badger them for political donations.
However, that does not stop them from jumping at his every beckon and call.