Lobbyists in key positions in Team Obama transition team

posted at 11:45 am on November 15, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

To put the old song on its ear, everything new is old again.  Remember when Barack Obama said this?

To rousing applause, Barack Obama formally announced this afternoon that the Democratic National Committee will follow his lead and begin refusing donations from registered lobbyists and special-interest political action committees.

“They do not fund my campaign,” the presumptive Democratic nominee told a small-town southwest Virginia crowd, after delivering a standard refrain that blames drug and insurance interests for blocking universal health care. “They will not fund our party. And they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I’m President of the United States.”

They may not have funded his campaign, although that’s highly questionable, but the Washington Post reports that they’ll be running his government.  Obama has tapped a number of lobbyists for high-profile positions in the transition team, and most of them will likely end up with significant leadership roles in the coming Obama administration:

Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to change Washington, vowing to upend the K Street lobbying culture he encountered when he joined the U.S. Senate.

But more than a dozen members of President-elect Obama’s fast-growing transition team have worked as federally registered lobbyists within the past four years. They include former lobbyists for the nation’s trial lawyers association, mortgage giant Fannie Mae, drug companies such as Amgen, high-tech firms such as Microsoft, labor unions and the liberal advocacy group Center for American Progress.

Mark Gitenstein, one of the 12 transition board members who will play a significant role in shaping the Obama administration, worked on million-dollar lobbying contracts with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and promoted legislation for giant defense contractors Boeing and General Dynamics. Until this fall, he was registered to petition Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of AT&T, Merrill Lynch, KPMG, Ernst & Young and others.

Gitenstein has blue-chip credentials for the volunteer role on the Obama team. He was chief Democratic counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings for controversial Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork; was a close adviser to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s White House bid; and served as counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Hey, nothing says post-partisan culture change than hiring the lobbyist that engineered the shameful attacks on Robert Bork!  Gitenstein isn’t alone, either.  Matthew Mosk notes the other significant lobbyists now rising to power under President Hope N. Change:

  • Ron Klain – Joe Biden’s chief of staff, had lobbied for Fannie Mae on “regulatory matters” until 2004, when the fraud got uncovered after years of Congressional interference with regulators.  Klain also lobbied for companies defending asbestos lawsuits and for ImClone, the drugmaker that faced charges of fraud.
  • John Podesta – The man running Obama’s transition spent the last few years lobbying for the far-Left group Center for American Progress.
  • Patrick Gaspard – Lobbied on health care issues on behalf of the SEIU, now associate personnel director for the transition team

Podesta has an even more interesting tie to lobbying.  Bill Clinton enacted a five-year ban on former White House staffers lobbying present and future administrations in order to curtail influence peddling.  However, after George Bush won in 2000, Clinton rescinded the order to help his staffers get jobs in the wake of the Republican sweep to victory.  The man who helped write the revocation?  John Podesta.

There is nothing inherently wrong with lobbying.  There is plenty wrong with hypocrisy, especially on the grand scale committed by Barack Obama during this campaign.  He regularly indulged in the populist demonization of lobbyists and claimed to lead a new movement to purify Washington of their eeeeevil influences.  Now that he has the power, Obama has no problem working with lobbyists for fraudulently run mortgage giants and drug makers, smear artists, and asbestos-lawsuit defenders.

That’s change that 63 million suckers believed in.

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Thessalonians Chapter 2 Verse 3 “Let No man decieve you by any means, for the day of Christ that is at Hand, shall NOT come, except there come a Falling away FIRST, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the son of Perdition(final state of Ruin and Destruction which forms the opposite of salvation, the final apoleia). Verse 4 “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Verse 9 “Even him, whose coming is AFTER the working of Satan with all power and signs and Lying wonders” Verse 10 “And with all deceivableness of Unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” Verse 11 “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a Lie” Verse 12 “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness”

BeardedLady on November 15, 2008 at 7:42 PM

Now his minions will have to HOPE his middle initial doesn’t change to W, too.

He’d do well to increase federal spending as much as the supposedly conservative Bush did…

Ares on November 15, 2008 at 7:43 PM

Notice that deathtomediahacks practices death to logic and specificity. Namely, where are the names to support all the smack he is talking about the Empty Suit and the gang he is assembling? Not in his post! Failures from the past is all I see. Good for profanity, sending fish and spending other people’s money.

Then he equates Reagan and O’Neill working compromise across branches of government with the second rate cathouse The One is putting together. BTW, Rove has info on the Bush White House that compares it favorably with the Clinton pig pen. But anyone who agrees with Obama must be psychic since even he doesn’t know what he is doing — let alone going to do.

I don’t know what he will do. Well, aside from clinging to the Clinton Machine for all he is worth. The training wheels are off and the media can only cover so much!

IlikedAUH2O on November 15, 2008 at 8:37 PM

I do agree with Ares, though.

Yes, President Obama would have trouble spending like President Bush. If we were attacked Obama would be too busy hiding under a table and looking for a way to make nice with some new terrorists. He might call Ayers to help out…

Check the numbers, war and the tech meltdown did not help bush and the Clinton “surplus” was partially slick accounting. Not that the Clintons ever cooked books..

IlikedAUH2O on November 15, 2008 at 8:44 PM

Kinda makes you wonder just who’s pulling Obama’s strings

Kini on November 15, 2008 at 12:38 PM


As I watched all this campaign unfold, I kept my eyes on the TV to find “the guy with the Bluetooth” calling the shots (for those who don’t know, watch past seasons of the TV show “24”).

This media hype is as unreal as in the movie “V For Vendetta”…for those who haven’t seen it, please do so. I will fetch several lines from that movie, definitely apply to this poor excuse for a future CIC.

ProudPalinFan on November 15, 2008 at 9:12 PM

……….. and what of his hubris?

This is not going to be good.

“63 million suckers born every generation.”
…….. that’s my new bumper sticker!

Seven Percent Solution on November 15, 2008 at 12:36 PM

You know what will my bumper sticker will say?


ProudPalinFan on November 15, 2008 at 9:17 PM

Wait until Chris Mathews hears about this! He is going to be soooo disappointed——–NOT!

The chill will leave his leg.

Herb on November 15, 2008 at 9:27 PM

Soft, maudlin , music playing…

Remember the importance of his lovely, accomplished, white granny?

Remember The One visiting the Granny in Hawaii just before the election?

Remember how he couldn’t disown her?

Well she was just buried without The One coming.

By the way, I was in Hawaii recently and a teacher at his elite prep school said that The One was just a B student in History and generally resented the prep school he attended. Most of that school doesn’t seem too fond of him.

A source also indicated that he seemed to resent Granny and that could have been projected to all of successful white America. I wonder how many pseudo-psychological studies of this theory would have been done if he were on the right? I could just read the op eds in the NYT now…

Oh..I am POSITIVE of the B in history…the only grade we have.

IlikedAUH2O on November 15, 2008 at 1:33 PM

At least I have this as some sort of comfort knowing that He Who Has An Empty Suit is not hiding her, lied about her death…Preeeeccciouuussss…

ProudPalinFan on November 15, 2008 at 9:32 PM

He threatened us with Bush II but…..Viola!

He gave us CLINTON II.

Herb on November 15, 2008 at 9:32 PM

The Great Society Gullibility is upon us. I’m sorry Ed, but Obama’s hyprocrisy (like Ayers, Wright and Campaign Finance) was known pre-election. It’s already “baked into the cake” as you say, along with the tire gauges. And it looks like the only item available at the bakery is some butt ugly sour grapes fruit cake, I’ll reserve one for you.

Mark30339 on November 15, 2008 at 10:24 PM

Jokes on us, suckas!

bloggless on November 15, 2008 at 11:24 PM

Bill Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, unsuccessfully pushed Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco. But because the legislation granting that authority failed, there is no dovetail between Corr’s lobbying and HHS policies, said a transition spokeswoman, who did not wish to be identified.

MayBee on November 15, 2008 at 3:36 PM

So he only hires incompetent lobbyists. That makes me feel better. I wish I could get a job based on the fact that I was really bad at my old one.

tll on November 16, 2008 at 1:26 AM

BTW, I love the way Obama supporters have tried to explain away his various hypocrisies so far. It reminds me of a passage from Atlas Shrugged where d’Anconia is arguing with a woman at a party:

“I feel it. I don’t go by my head, but by my heart. You may be good at logic, but you’re heartless.”
“Madame, when we’ll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won’t be of any earthly use to save them. And I’m heartless enough to say that when you’ll scream, ‘but I didn’t know it!’- you will not be forgiven.”

tll on November 16, 2008 at 1:40 AM

ObaMcCarthy’s mouth is being worked by EmanuelBergen.

csdeven on November 15, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Interesting and frightening to think.

Does that mean the Congressional Basement of the Bush War/Impeachment trials won’t come to fruition’s now that the Obama distractions have come to play?

Where do we begin?

Kini on November 16, 2008 at 3:37 AM

This media hype is as unreal as in the movie “V For Vendetta”

ProudPalinFan on November 15, 2008 at 9:12 PM

Or Brazil, if you really want to dive into the liberal mindset of [teh] bizarre, yet sublime.

Kini on November 16, 2008 at 3:49 AM

Now his minions will have to HOPE his middle initial doesn’t change to W, too.

However, I’d be willing to bet that all the keyboards that had the W removed 8 years ago in the offices will still have the O keys intact in January.

joeinmo on November 16, 2008 at 4:02 AM

Are we allowed to say “Hussein” yet?

malkinmania on November 16, 2008 at 5:56 AM

Anytime anyone mentions the new “President elect”, I say: Who? You mean President Hussein and the First [email protected]?

kcd on November 16, 2008 at 7:50 AM

Did they use a fisheye lens when the pic was taken of Duh One…or does he really look like a mule eating briars?

AubieJon on November 16, 2008 at 8:20 AM

He had his fingers crossed when he said that. It doesn’t count.

la.rt.wngr on November 16, 2008 at 9:27 AM

I don’t know what he will do. Well, aside from clinging to the Clinton Machine for all he is worth. The training wheels are off and the media can only cover so much

Comments like this demonstrate an unwillingness to engage with the Obama Administration honestly. There aren’t a huge amount of folks in Washington, on the Dem side who have experience making a white house run who didn’t work in the Clinton Administration. But notice, that Obama hasn’t hired any Clinton loyalists and he hasn’t put any of Clinton’s actual appointees in charge of anything. The names that are being floated for things (yes we’re ALL speculating) are people who got their start in the clinton admin.

All first Presidents have to work to get their bearings and relying on the previous admins machine is how washington works. Like the criticisms seem to be that Obama is unifying the Clinton and Obama wings of the party, re-broadening the tent and consolidating power under his whitehouse. How dare he!

DeathToMediaHacks on November 16, 2008 at 11:02 AM

I can’t write enough to handle all the cliches and side stepping above. Wasn’t someone selling something new?

Only Deathtomediahacks understands hope and change and how it is exemplified by using the blood of an administration you ran against. The Clinton wing will want their own agenda.

Finally, it is hard to believe but there are lots of resumes in D. C. unless you were running a con to battle Hillary so strongly. And we all know The One is not a con man.

IlikedAUH2O on November 16, 2008 at 1:28 PM

Welcome to the worst act of anti-american, anti-christian hatred yet perpetuated by the democrats: electing a psuedo-american from Kenya who proffesses to be a christian in the mold of Jeremiah Wright but who is more than likely a closet Muslim sympathizing with jew-hating Iranian president AhDadImNotBad. The ultimate Clockwork Orange in-out bendover.

Godzilla on November 16, 2008 at 3:06 PM

Only Deathtomediahacks understands hope and change and how it is exemplified by using the blood of an administration you ran against. The Clinton wing will want their own agenda.

And your response is “there are lots of resumes in D.C.”? I thought you were about “specificity.” Because, while there might be alot of resumes in D.C. I’m not sure there are an infinite number of people who are prepared to be in cabinet and senior advisor positions to the President, call me conservative on that estimate if you must.

Also I find it hilarious that you’re claiming that Obama isn’t bringing “real change” because Clinton staffers are nor verboten. BUSH, Republicans and corporate governance is what has controlled Washington the last 8 years and those folks are going to be nowhere near the fulcrums of power.

Now about the primary. Obama ran against the Clinton years in a number of important ways.
1. He ran against free trade/NAFTA and while Rahm Emmanuel is a major NAFTA supporter, he is chief of staff, NOT a policy director/adviser. Emmanuel isn’t an ideologue, he’s a partisan hack and will do any partisan job he is told to do. If that’s pushing through the Obama agenda then that’s what he will. Notice, for example, that Obama did not budge when Bush asked for CAFTA in exchange for auto bailout, he’s keeping his promises to labor. Expect the Employee Free Choice Act to be signed into law quickly as well, something Bill Clinton would never allow as he basically allowed union busting to go on unfettered under his Administration.

2. He tapped into the wing of the Democratic party that was upset over the fact that Clinton ran against FDR-style big government liberalism in 1992 and exploited that faction while running up the margin among African Americans. As of yet, I think we can all agree that Obama ran ON big government liberalism, in that sense he’s not inconsistent with the primary.

3. He ran against “dishonesty” in the Clinton era. On this he’s been like any other politician, stretches the truth, claims the others are lying.

DeathToMediaHacks on November 16, 2008 at 4:02 PM

CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN? Have fun suckers!
Unfortunately, the rest of us are dragged along behind kicking and screaming (I hope).

hopefloats on November 17, 2008 at 10:36 AM

I knew it would end up this way.

Badger40 on November 17, 2008 at 2:01 PM

DeathToMediaHacks on November 15, 2008 at 5:41 PM

Which of his 2 opposite positions on the warrantless wiretap position lines up with your worldview?

Chuck Schick on November 17, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Only Deathtomediahacks understands hope and change and how it is exemplified by using the blood of an administration you ran against. The Clinton wing will want their own agenda.

I am supposed to start listing names so we could debate them for years?

Only Deathtomediahacks never heard The One run against how things are done and were done over decades. I have campaign speeches and materials from the Osama Bin Biden campaign but I can bear the nausea to examine them. And you mention only Bush as something to change away from? Please take no offense. But what do you smoke?

The only funny thing around here is Deathtomediahacks dodging and weaving like a recent campaign did. Just don’t remember the primaries.

It would be hilarious except that he/she and many voters couldn’t spot a cheap con. An empty suit.

Free Choice and NAFTA will not be seen for years, if at all. Remember the Canada call? And you believed him…

IlikedAUH2O on November 17, 2008 at 7:42 PM

Suggested bumper sticker: Obama Lied, America Died.

TugboatPhil on November 15, 2008 at 3:06 PM



Let’s roll.

ex-Democrat on November 18, 2008 at 11:29 AM

“It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope.

We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts…

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.”

-Patrick Henry

ex-Democrat on November 18, 2008 at 11:36 AM