Monday, November 10, 2008

Are You a Lobbyist? The Obama Administration Wants to Hire You

Back in April of 2007, for instance, Obama made a show of giving back donations from some Washington lobbyists to illustrate his intolerance for them. At the time campaign spokesman Bill Burton said to The New York Times that it was a “symbol” of Obama’s disdain for lobbyists.

“As we’ve said and as this illustrates, this policy isn’t a perfect solution to the problem of money and politics and special interest sway in Washington,” Mr. Burton said. “But it is an important symbol of the kind of administration that Obama will have in the White House.”

In October of 2007, the Washington Post noted that Obama had “fulminated against ‘lobbyists’ and ‘insiders,’ and claimed that (he) will end ‘business as usual’ in Washington if elected president.”

But, now all of a sudden, lobbyists don’t sound like such bad fellows to Obama. Politico reported on November 5 that Barack Obama has stepped back from his claim that lobbyists would not have a place in his new administration.

Despite campaign trail promises that special interests wouldn’t be a part of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama’s has sent signals to the lobbyists that they can get jobs with him.

…the overall message to the lobbying community appears to run counter to the Democratic senator’s campaign promise to keep special interest advocates at arms length.

Apparently, lobbyists are getting the message and are lining up out the door to get plum spots in Obama’s administration.

“The rush is on,” he said. “There are thousands and thousands of people (lobbyists) who are desperate for these jobs.”

And then on November 6 we find that Obama has picked a lobbyist to become his new FCC head. DC insider Henry Rivera, a former Democratic FCC commissioner, and partner in the lobbyist law firm Wiley Rein, is being picked by Team Obama.

While not currently registered as an active lobbyist, he has been engaged as such as recent as 2001. His law firm is also heavily involved in efforts to lobby on telecom issues.

Rivera’s law firm is also the former home of Kevin Martin, the current FCC chairman, and is arguably one of the schmooziest lobbyist telecom legal firms in Washington. It employs several former FCC commissioners as well as a significant number of former FCC employees. Of course, Rivera and the other lawyers at Wiley Rein are not the only people at the FCC to leave government for high-paying lobbyist gigs–the practice is widespread.

Does any of this sound like a “new” Washington to you?

So far, after only four short days, the names have changed but the story remains the same.

The above is quoted from

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