In an editorial today, the Washington Times assails against President Obama for encouraging "lobbyists to stop admitting they are lobbyists."
The paper points to the president's executive order earlier this year that bans lobbyists from being appointed to executive branch positions. Following the order, 1,400 federal lobbyists withdrew their government registrations and the number of newly-registered lobbyists has decreased, according to an analysis by the Office of Management and Budget Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics.But, as the Times points out, fewer registered lobbyists does not mean that there are fewer special interests working to influence policy.
Mr. Obama's has focused only on the registered influence peddlers, but, despite the reform, his administration has hired a number of former lobbyists, both registered and not, for key positions. Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn lobbied for defense industry giant Raytheon Co., and Treasury Chief of Staff Mark Patterson represented Goldman Sachs' interests. Deputy Health and Human Services Secretary William V. Corr is the former executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Last month, the Times reported on the White House's preferential treatment toward big campaign donors, who the paper claimed receive special access to senior officials and private visits in exchange for six-figure bundling contributions or $30,000 personal donations. Among them is top New York bundler Robert Wolf, CEO of United Bank of Scotland Americas, who President Obama took with him on a golf outing in Martha's Vineyard this summer.
From the Times's editorial today:
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with lobbyists or former corporate officials serving the president, transparency is the only tool to assure that former lobbyists put the public good over private gain.