Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lobby Shell Game

President Obama's tough lobbying rules will not reduce the influence of influence peddlers in Washington, D.C. Cases in point, other than the gross exemption for the Pentagon deputy who lobbied for Raytheon?

Matthew Nugen worked at the highest levels of candidate Obama's political campaign. He served as Obama's point man for the Democratic National Convention and spent months guiding Joe Biden, of the potentially loose mouth. Matt landed a position with Ogilvy Government Relations. Ogilvy represents several huge private equity firms, The Carlyle Group and Blackstone. The New York Times reported:

Although Ogilvy is a lobbying firm, Mr. Nugen said in an interview with DealBook that he has not registered as a lobbyist, and his role for the moment is as a strategic adviser. But he also said he is likely to register as a lobbyist at some point down the line.

Asked about whether his move to a lobbying firm was at odds with Mr. Obama’s efforts to slow down what some have called Washington’s “revolving door,” Mr. Nugen said he was never a member of the administration, so the restrictions don’t apply.

Influence peddling remains alive and well. Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle is evidence. He worked for Alston & Bird, a lobbying firm, yet Tom never registered as a lobbyist. Ex-Medicare/Medicaid Chief Tom Scully works for Alston & Bird. Scully registered as a lobbyist.

The big money boys have access to the current White House. The public is tired of the imbalance.

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