Another Lobbyist Enters the Obama Administration

Waiving hello.

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Another former lobbyist enters the Obama administration ...

From The Hill:

After unveiling the rules on his first full day in office, Obama was forced to waive them for a Raytheon executive nominated as deputy secretary of Defense. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced new department rules on lobbying even as he was hiring former Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson as his chief of staff.

I've blogged a couple of times on the Obama lobbying ban. As I've said before, I'm not unsympathetic to the concerns about the government-lobbyist revolving door, but the rhetoric on this issue was too sweeping and led to a ban that is unworkable, as evidenced by the increasing number of waivers (at least three now, including Patterson and Defense Department nominee William Lynn) being granted to get around it.

"These waivers are supposed to be very select and very rare," said Public Citizen's Craig Holman, who advised Obama's transition team as it crafted the lobbying rules. He said there are "plenty of competent people" available to the Defense Department who do not work for major defense contractors.

"The waiver we saw already was inappropriate," Holman said of the exception granted to Lynn. He said Lynn has a vested interest in Raytheon, and could serve as a model for why the lobbying rules preventing conflicts of interest are necessary.

How many days into the administration are we? At this rate, how many waivers will we have by pitchers and catchers?

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