"Lobbyists Won't Find A Job in My White House!"

Didn’t then-Senator Obama promise that no lobbyists would find a job in the White House if we elected him President?


Tom Vilsack was registered to lobby last year on behalf of the National Education Association.

William Lynn was registered to lobby last year for Raytheon.

William Corr was registered to lobby until last year for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

David Hayes, was registered to lobby in 2006 for San Diego Gas & Electric.

Mark Patterson was registered to lobby last year for Goldman Sachs.

Ron Klain was registered until 2005 for the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, U.S. Airways, Airborne Express and ImClone.

Mona Sutphen – Angliss International in 2003.

Melody Barnes – 2003 and 2004 for liberal advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Constitution Society and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Cecilia Muñoz – for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group.

Patrick Gaspard – for the Service Employees International Union.

Michael Strautmanis – for the American Association of Justice from 2001 until 2005.

What happened?

I don’t know, did he? Seems to me that you should prove the crucial fact of your debate.

Remarks of Senator Obama in Spartanburg, SC, 11/3/07

Is this the Obama version of the Clinton Death List?

As for the OP, I think this was a stupid promise to make - that doesn’t mean, though, that President Obama shouldn’t explain better why he is breaking it.

I never thought I’d weigh in on Bricker’s side of a political thread, but…


[bolding mine]

On preview: <shakes fist at Mr Moto>

By the way, here’s the relevant Executive Order.

Press Office waffling

I’m with Mr Moto on this (fistshaking notwithstanding) - a dumb rule to make, but a dumber one to break. These waivers had better be good.


I believe Obama put out an executive order about not hiring lobbyists, just to show he was serious. One of, if not his very first.

I guess this is what he meant by ‘real change’.


Reality. Obama made an over-broad, nigh but impossible, promise on the campaign trail and then broke it. I suppose we could waste some time playing semantics over the definition of the term “lobbyist” (meaning current lobbyists only, which would deal with many of your examples), but to me, that’s a waste of time.

I’m heartened by the fact that he instituted his two-year lobbyist rule and other steps, Click here for the text of the Executive Order, and pissed that he granted a waiver to Lynn. If you’re looking for apologies or mea culpas, you won’t get it from me. I know that every single politician in the world is going to break a loosely worded campaign promise. Such are the vagaries of life. At the end of the day, I’m happy that, at the very least, Obama is taking steps in the right direction rather than the giant leaps he had hoped to. To me, that’s progress.

Can you even swing a dead cat in Washington without hitting a lobbyist?

I too agree it seems a silly thing to promise and then so blatantly break it. I really hope the no lobbying rule when they leave the administration has teeth and sticks but I am not holding my breath.

That said lobbyists are usually experts in their respective areas. If you happen to agree with their stance then hiring them to oversee that area in the administration may make practical sense.

Still smells though…

A dumb thing to promise because it’s all but impossible to find people with NO lobbying connection who have the relevant field knowledge and political connection/resume to get appointed to a WH position. If anything, it illustrates how pervasive lobbying is.

I guess you could argue that some of them are fine by the letter of the order (i.e. they didn’t lobby on behalf of interests in the area they are appointed to), but that’s hair splitting.

So, yep, a misstep. Not on the order of say, invading a country to eliminate their WMD program then finding out they don’t have one, but a misstep nonetheless.

I took it to mean they wouldn’t be able to lobby his White House on behalf of whatever special interest they represented. I don’t particularly care if people who used to be lobbyists change careers and work for the administration. I just don’t want them to be administration insiders while on the payroll of a special interest. In fact one could argue the lobbyists represent an experienced pool of people who know how to get things done and as long as they’re now working for the people as a whole instead of some special interest group or corporation, they’re a good asset to the administration. IOW, lobbyists wouldn’t find a job in his White House as lobbyists, but once someone is no longer a lobbyist, they’re a candidate for a job they’re qualified for. Cutting out a pool of people who can get things done in Washington from your prospective workforce could be a waste.

Still, it does raise the specter of “will these people, knowingly or unknowingly, steer the administration in the directions they were dedicated to for however long.” This seems a naive take on the situation. Lobbyists are paid professionals, similar to attorneys. They represent a view because they are paid to do so, not because they hold it to be good and true. Once they’re paid to work for the people as a whole I don’t see why their former careers should be held against them. An obvious exception would be if there were reasonable suspicions they got the appointment as a result of some quid pro quo, and connections between the nominating team and nominees for appointments should be scrutinized for such.


Bricker, you know there is a process for waivers for national security or economy reasons, in the executive order right?

In our cabinet State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs handle national security issues, while Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture, Interior, Labor, HHS, HUD, Transportation, Energy and Education handle economic affairs to some degree. Some Cabinet jobs span both of these categories.

So this loophole looks big enough to justify anything if needed. I think we owe it to President Obama to monitor how often this need is cited.

It’s understandable, and I guess I count myself as being one of those who didn’t believe him right from the start. It was campaign rhetoric, nothing more. There will be more ‘promises’ broken yet to come.

Lobbyists get to be lobbyists because they are experts in their field. If want experts on your team, you are probably going to find them in the ranks of lobbyists.

Oh, no doubt. We should monitor it, that’s why I applaud the idea of a public waiver. The real world requires compromise and some of the best of the best have lobbied. If that person is one of the handful on Earth who can do the job, let them have it and publicly note why you’re making the exception.

In previous administrations it was given away as a matter of course with a wink and a pat on the back.


Are you suggesting that Mona Sutphen, the new deputy White House chief of staff, fits those exceptions? That Cecilia Munoz, the new White House director of intergovernmental affairs, brings expertise vital to national security or the economy?

I’d buy the argument for someone like Geithner. But Mark Patterson, Geithner’s new chief of staff at Treasury, was a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs. You’re seriously telling me that of all the qualified people out there, the chief of staff had to, for vital national security interests, be a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist?

Come on.

Now, here’s my take: it was a foolish promise, made (I assume) without any actual experience in the reality of staffing the hundreds of political appointee jobs. As someone said in this thread, reality happened.

Here’s what bugs me: why can’t we now have that cogent an explanation from the White House? I don’t mind that a promise made on the campaign trail a year ago is seen to be unworkable when it comes time to make it happen. But I do mind the refusal to admit that this is what happened. Many posters in this thread have no trouble saying, in effect, “Hey - promise was made, but it’s now clearly unworkable.” Why won’t the White House say something similar?

In fairness, the quote that Mr. Moto provided seems to specify corporate lobbyists, which would exclude people who worked on behalf of the ACLU or La Raza. Doesn’t excuse hiring the guys who worked for Raytheon, or San Diego Gas and Electric, but it does trim the list down quite a bit.

Mona Sutphen was a lobbyist in 2003. How does that go against the policy? I only looked into her background (from the list) because I don’t want to waste my time researching them all if you’re not going to admit it when you’re wrong. So, is your objection to her gone or not?


Also, that chick is wicked hot.

I’d argue that they did say something similar by setting up the waivers. I think you’re asking too much if you want the President to publicly rend his garments in apology.

One of the realiities of public life is that people are generally discouraged from public apologies. It leads to a series of gotchas that are counterproductive.

I’d love to have seen the previous administration apologize for a lot of the stuff they did and said that later turned out to be a mistake. But I always knew that the best I could hope for was a reversal in behavior without an explicit apology. Most of the time, I didn’t even get that–they just continued the mistake, instead.

I find it refreshing to see the new guys show some flexibility, rather than clinging to something that won’t work.

Of course, I hope the press keeps a watch over this. While I accept that zero former lobbiests is impossible, I do want that number to be as low as possible. Corporations exert too much influence in government.