Posts Tagged ‘White House’

White House Reverses Lobbying Ban

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 by Linnae O'Flahavan

THE WHITE HOUSE HAS REVERSED part of its ban preventing registered lobbyists from serving on advisory panels. Lobbyists may now sit on advisory panels “so long as they’re examples of evaluation essays acting on behalf of a corporation, trade association or industry group and not as private citizens or representatives of the government,” reports POLITICO.

The original ban was put in place in 2010, but has been challenged in court by 6 lobbyists who, as a result of the ban, were kicked off advisory panels. Those lobbyists include Erik Autor, Nate Herman, Cass Johnson, Stephen Lamar, Bill Reinsch, and Andrew Zamoyski. The courts ruled against the White House by refusing to dismiss the case, and as a result, the Office of Management and Budget has eased up on restrictions by publishing the new rule in the Federal Register.

There appears to be significant criticism of the Obama administration for easing up on promised ethics reforms regarding K Street’s influence, although it is important to note that the reversal in policy is coming after court decisions going against the ban. Bloomberg quotes OMB’s Communications Director Melanie Roussell, who defends the ban, clarifying that “the purpose of the prohibition is ‘to restrict the undue influence of lobbyists on the federal government’ and was ‘not designed to prevent lobbyists or others from petitioning their government.’” Nonetheless, many lobbyists are up in arms about the ban, claiming constitutional rights violations, and are glad to see the White House reversing part of the ban.

It remains unclear exactly how far the White House will retreat on this issue since the administration is admitting defeat by reversing even part of the ban. In addition, POLITICO reports that the Obama administration has hired over 70 previously registered lobbyists including Broderick Johnson, Melody Barnes, James Kohlenberger, and Sean Kennedy. President Obama ran for office on a platform vowing to keep K Street influence out of the White House, but his plans seem to be failing, regardless of his intentions. It’s hard to say what Obama truly intended to accomplish, but quite easy to say that his ethics reforms aiming to minimize special interest influence on government policy are not really working.

POLITICO on Why K St. = (R) St.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

THIS MORNING, POLITICO’S Anna Palmer and Elizabeth Titus published an article entitled “Why Republicans still run K Street.”  In about 1,400 words, they offer eleven possibilities:

  1. K St. bet red in 2012 – “Some companies bet that Republicans would take back the Senate and the White House in 2012, beginning the process of scooping up talent months ahead of the election.”
  2. K St. is plain bias – “’There seems to be a philosophical and political bias against Democrats,’ McCormick Group’s Ivan Adler said.”
  3. K St. bet red in 2012 AND K St. is plain bias – “The bias toward hiring Republicans was on display over the past two years when corporations and trade groups continued to bet on Romney and Republican chances of taking back the Senate when making hiring decisions and in choosing to retain their top GOP talent.”
  4. There’s a shortage of Dems – “There are also fewer Democrats coming off the Hill or out of the White House who want to pursue corporate lobbying.”
  5. Republicans = business (1 of 2) – “The business world tends to hire more Republicans, anyway, since their beliefs align more closely with those of corporate clients, and potential Republican hires tend to have more corporate experience or a proven record leading an association or in-house team.”
  6. Republicans = business (2 of 2) -“Former Rep. Billy Tauzin told POLITICO that Republicans may dominate downtown ‘because most associations are business groups, which have, generally speaking, a closer association with the Republican Party.’”
  7. Tom DeLay – “[AKA the] K Street Project, in which then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) helped lead an effort to install Republicans in many of the top trade associations.”
  8. K St. hires Dems, just not for No. 1 roles – “Many Democrats are hired instead to be the No. 2 lobbyist in the shop, giving associations and companies plenty of political cover on Capitol Hill.”
  9. K St. is dominated by Republican issues – “There are also many industries — such as oil, financial services and health care — that a significant number of Democrats are unwilling to represent.”
  10. Administration officials are loath to lobby – “Democrats leaving the Obama White House have also been more reluctant than previous administrations of either party to join the influence-peddling ranks.”
  11. Powerful friends happen to be Republican – “Veteran Republican Frank Fahrenkopf said personal relationships and the scope of each group’s work matter more than partisan affiliation.”

Ethics Czar Moving on to Tamer, but Lovelier Pursuits

Thursday, July 1st, 2010 by Vbhotla

Federal lobbyists can now officially raise their glasses to the White House nomination of Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, as ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Eisen successfully became the bane of lobbyists’ existence with his very first act after joining the White House: leading the charge for an executive order banning lobbyists from serving in the administration (which Obama signed on his first day in office). Eisen has followed that up with successfully convincing the President and his administration to bar lobbyists from federal advisory boards, and  making thousands of White House visitor names public. (He also posts fairly prolifically on the White House blog about ethics).

Lobbyists have since criticized the Eisen-led Obama policy of shutting out lobbyists as causing “de-registrations,” or even just discouraging registration in the first place, and fostering underground lobbying. Prague’s gain is a potential loss for watchdog groups, who fear Eisen may not be replaced.  Already, the NY Times story about White House staffers meeting lobbyists in coffee shops to keep things off the record (see Drew’s post on that here) has groups like Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics  in Washington (which Eisen co-founded) losing plenty of sleep.

As for Eisen, he’s probably too busy dreaming of the largest ancient castle in the world right now to worry about bickering lobbyists and hawk-eyed ethics groups!

Starbucksgate is not going away

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 by Drew

What seemed like a softball story in the New York Times last week has turned out to be a textbook case of investigative journalism. The Times has seemingly pulled back the curtain on how business is actually done in Washington.

NYT’s story about White House staffers meeting with lobbyists in coffee shops near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is causing ripples inside the beltway. Mother Jones reported yesterday that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter (PDF) to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee requesting a hearing about the matter. CREW, disappointed in the Obama administration’s failure to live up to their anti-lobbying campaign rhetoric, wants Congress to figure out how to get these coffee shop meetings on record.

We’ll see how long it takes until Congress closes this loophole with a coffee-shop-meeting-near-the-White-House-disclosure rule. When they do, you’ll be able to find it here, naturally.