Remember when Barack Obama pledged that lobbyists would have no place in his administration? That pledge barely lasted out Inauguration Day, and within two weeks, the list of “waivers” had grown so large that Jake Tapper demanded to see the government waiver application forms laying around the West Wing. The Obama administration had better break out Form WH-LW1 again for their new appointment at State:
President Barack Obama’s pledge to outlaw lobbyists from his administration is being tested again. His pick for assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs is Richard Verma, a partner at the Steptoe & Johnson law firm.
Obama’s lobbying rules, though, forbid appointees from working in government on issues they had advocated for. An administration official told Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog that a waiver would not be required for Verma because he had not lobbied the State Department.
Senate records, however, indicate that Verma had lobbied the State Department last fall on behalf of the U.S.-India Business Council, which was actively trying to win congressional approval of a deal between the two countries on civilian nuclear cooperation.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
Oopsie! Did Obama’s vetting team on the Greatest Transition Ever miss that one? Forget to check on lobbying records … for a lobbyist? In the department to which they appointed him?
Either they’re incompetent, or they’re simply lying. Maybe that’s too harsh. After all, they could be both.