BARACK OBAMA RAN FOR PRESIDENT on a platform that promised to decrease influence by lobbyists on national policy. He vowed to limit connections between the White House and lobbying firms, but despite creating new regulations against lobbyists, many of those influential ties still remain. Most recently, as The Hill reports, ride-share and taxi-cab alternative company Uber hired Obama’s former campaign chief David Plouffe as its new Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy. Uber’s co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick wrote in a blog post that Plouffe will help lead Uber in the political fight against “the Big Taxi cartel.”
Connections such as these, while not necessarily Obama’s fault, exemplify how close national policy and lobbying remain. According to analysis from the Washington Post, there are 65 current members of the Obama administration who have direct experience lobbying the federal government. While many of these people have been in their positions since the start of Obama’s first term, questions remain about the constant stream of people going back and forth between positions with the federal government and private sector lobbying firms.
The White House is attempting to crack down on former Congressional staffers and members who are moving into the private sector, but seems to be unable to slow down their departure, especially as mid-term elections approach. It’s hard to know whether or not those 65 members of the Obama Administration are truly getting in the way, or if the number isn’t actually all that significant. It will also be interesting to see how the exodus of Congressional staffers moving toward private government affairs lobbying work is affected by the results of upcoming elections.