WaPo: Administration not reporting lobbyist contacts on Porkulus

posted at 10:12 am on August 31, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill, he issued an executive order banning lobbyist contact with government officials on Porkulus spending.  After criticism over the ban, Obama modified the order to demand immediate reporting of all lobbyist contacts with administration officials.  The Washington Post reports that only a handful of contacts have been revealed despite a massive increase in lobbying efforts, which doesn’t add up even in Obama math:

President Obama ordered federal officials to disclose their contacts with lobbyists trying to influence how the government doles out money to jump-start the economy. Yet few such communications have been reported even though lobbyists say they are busier than ever with the multibillion-dollar stimulus. …

In August, the entire government reported only eight such lobbying contacts. The Pentagon, which controls about $7.4 billion in stimulus spending, reported just one lobbying contact so far this year. The Homeland Security Department, with at least $3 billion to spend, reported none.

Yet the paucity of reporting masks activities by lobbyists and clients eager to obtain stimulus money for their projects. Lobbyists have separately reported work related to stimulus projects, and in many cases have operated in new ways to skirt restrictions on their efforts to influence stimulus spending. …

The Education Department described 19 encounters, including Secretary Arne Duncan’s meetings with the NAACP and other groups, some with detailed descriptions of the discussions. Energy Department reports include barely legible scrawls as well as 159 pages of public comments on a transmission infrastructure program.

The departments of Homeland Security, State and Veterans Affairs, and smaller agencies such as the Smithsonian Institution have made no such reports. The Pentagon confirmed that there has only been one lobbying report filed, describing a query by a lobbyist for a real estate company about the military homeowners assistance program.

It’s important to remember that lobbying Congress and the government is an activity protected by the First Amendment.  The people have the right to petition the government for “redress of greivances,” and the bigger government gets, the more redresses it causes.  Lobbying firms help organize constituencies, which is neither a virtue or a vice in itself. Corruption occurs because of the monies spent by politicians, for which lobbyists compete, sometimes in a corrupt manner.

However, Obama decided to demonize lobbyists during his presidential campaign (and he’s not the only presidential candidate to do it in 2008, either), and pose as a man who would free Washington from the grip of lobbyists and return it to the people … which makes no sense whatsoever.  He made a great show of banning lobbyists and then restricting them, as if lobbyists posed the greatest danger to the Republic.  Now his own administration appears very slow to acknowledge those contacts, obviously from the embarrassment of having to admit meeting with Obama’s idea of the devil himself.

If we want to reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington DC, we have to spend less money and make their rewards more elusive.  The real threat to the Republic, in terms of lobbying, is the runaway spending committed by the political class as a means of ensuring re-election — and that’s not just pork-barrel spending, although it’s certainly the worst example of it.  Then we wouldn’t have to worry about lobbyist contacts as a potential corrupting influence, and our money could remain in our communities and states, where we could keep a closer eye on it and have more control over how it gets spent.


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The administration is as crooked as a dog’s leg and as dirty as a gas station toilet seat cover.

rplat on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM

If we want to reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington DC, we have to spend less money and make their rewards more elusive.

That equation is too simple for President Obama’s new math.

BadgerHawk on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Obama is also WeeWee Man

faraway on August 31, 2009 at 10:18 AM

If we want to reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington DC, we have to spend less money and make their rewards more elusive.

I’ve made this point to leftists time and time again. And each time it is like when you play whale calls to your dog.

When government is determining winners and losers in business, businesses will try to make sure they are in the winning side by influencing members of government.

18-1 on August 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM

I’m pretty sure the administration was forthright on telling us about the pharmacy payoff deal in return for advertisement, and also about the $10 billion payoff for union healthcare in return for thug activity at town halls.

Or, maybe we found out in spite of the blackout.

Vashta.Nerada on August 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM

It’s important to remember that lobbying Congress and the government is an activity protected by the First Amendment. The people have the right to petition the government for “redress of greivances,” and the bigger government gets, the more redresses it causes.

I don’t think “Hey, Pentagon, you need to buy our completely useless widget…let us tell you why” qualifies as a greivance.

In most sane circumstances, this is called marketing.

“Marketing” is not a Constitutionally-protected activity.

BobMbx on August 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM

i’m glad that WaPo is bringing even a few bits of Obambi’s lies to light. alot of libs i know think that only WaPo speaks the truth–certainly not FNC, the Boss (MM) or Beck or Rush.

kelley in virginia on August 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM

also, this admin is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

kelley in virginia on August 31, 2009 at 10:24 AM

I have a lobbyist friend who has had dozens of meetings with EPA and the Department of Agriculture. None of them have been reported.

I subscribe to a couple of email reports listing lobbying jobs. It’s unbelievable how many of them there are now in DC. This is a Golden Age for lobbyists. Washington, DC is the only boomtown in America.

rockmom on August 31, 2009 at 10:25 AM

Read Michelle Malkins book – “Culture of Corruption”
The roots of Obama’s corruption go way back and Joe Biden & his
family are neck deep in the swamp.

I think Michelle will have enough material to write a 2nd book.

izoneguy on August 31, 2009 at 10:26 AM

I have a lobbyist friend who has had dozens of meetings with EPA and the Department of Agriculture. None of them have been reported.

I subscribe to a couple of email reports listing lobbying jobs. It’s unbelievable how many of them there are now in DC. This is a Golden Age for lobbyists. Washington, DC is the only boomtown in America.

rockmom on August 31, 2009 at 10:25 AM

EPA- what a joke – that is the first agency that needs to go.

izoneguy on August 31, 2009 at 10:27 AM

BobMbx on August 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Please specify that portion of the constitution that gives the govt the power to regulate “Marketing”.

MarkTheGreat on August 31, 2009 at 10:28 AM

One mans lobbyist is anothers mans advocate, the problem is in the corruption of our representatives and senators.

fourdeucer on August 31, 2009 at 10:28 AM

If we want to reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington DC, we have to spend less money and make their rewards more elusive.

And that is the ONLY ethics reform “bill” that will work!

WashJeff on August 31, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Please specify that portion of the constitution that gives the govt the power to regulate “Marketing”.

MarkTheGreat on August 31, 2009 at 10:28 AM

????

BobMbx on August 31, 2009 at 10:29 AM

EPA- what a joke – that is the first agency that needs to go.

izoneguy on August 31, 2009 at 10:27 AM

EPA is up there but I’d but Education ahead of that. Not only is education something better managed at the state level, the Dept of Education is nothing more than a place for bureaucrats who washed out as “educators.”

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 10:31 AM

also, this admin is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

kelley in virginia on August 31, 2009 at 10:24 AM

Thanks for the correction . . . that does make a difference.

rplat on August 31, 2009 at 10:32 AM

EPA is up there but I’d but Education ahead of that. Not only is education something better managed at the state level, the Dept of Education is nothing more than a place for bureaucrats who washed out as “educators.”

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Energy and Education. Just work our way backwards from their inception date (skipping over Homeland Security for another day).

WashJeff on August 31, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Anyone know if there are consequences for not reporting?

doctormom on August 31, 2009 at 10:33 AM

The administration is as crooked as a dog’s leg and as dirty as a gas station toilet seat cover.

rplat on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Be careful what you say about dogs’ legs and gas station toilet seats.

If you want fewer lobbyists, then have a smaller government.

rbj on August 31, 2009 at 10:35 AM

U.S. officials have to disclose only their contacts with lobbyists, not others interested in the stimulus money like corporate executives or trade groups.

To quote Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name…”.

Tommy_G on August 31, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Listen…………you people have to understand something here – when you are a Marxist Liar crack-selling Chi-Town Scum Bag like Team Obama, you DO NOT have to obey the law – and besides, those guys in suits are NOT lobbyists, they are casual friends – you know, like Billy Ayers……and the bombers……….and the Rev. Wright and Rezko and the Felon Street Crowd over in the Cook County Jail……….

Cinday Blackburn on August 31, 2009 at 10:37 AM

i love dogs. lobbyists, not so much.

kelley in virginia on August 31, 2009 at 10:37 AM

BobMbx on August 31, 2009 at 10:29 AM

He’s trying to bait you into a constitutional debate.

a capella on August 31, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Just on oversight…a minor oversight…his team of 47 attorneys will correct it.
Time for a……………………Lobbyist Czar…..

right2bright on August 31, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Please specify that portion of the constitution that gives the govt the power to regulate “Marketing”.

MarkTheGreat on August 31, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Exactly you agree with BobMbx…

“Marketing” is not a Constitutionally-protected activity.

BobMbx on August 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM

right2bright on August 31, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Most ethical administration EVAH!

Fletch54 on August 31, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Energy and Education. Just work our way backwards from their inception date (skipping over Homeland Security for another day).

WashJeff on August 31, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Homeland security is such a hodgepodge that it would require a mission by mission analysis. These single interest departments and agencies should have to justify their existence and I have yet to see one compelling reason to keep Education around.

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 10:45 AM

And what is the press tongue doing licking the Joker’s boots?

tarpon on August 31, 2009 at 10:47 AM

The administration is as crooked as a dog’s leg and as dirty as a gas station toilet seat cover.

rplat on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Tee-hee. I’m forever more going to associate Barry with a dirty gas station toilet.

anniekc on August 31, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Lobbyists have separately reported work related to stimulus projects, and in many cases have operated in new ways to skirt restrictions on their efforts to influence stimulus spending. …

Clearly there is an oversight problem and it is by design. The real question I have is this. Shouldn’t every one of that $943B be auditable? Meaning, shouldn’t the fitlhy liar’s administration be forced into accounting for every dime of that money? Don’t hold your breath waiting for the corrupt politics-driven AG to worry about this issue.

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Does anyone know if Iran has a small working prototype of a working bomb?
If so ask them if I can borrow it.

I think I know how to solve our problem real quick.

P.S. I’d avoid DC for a while after they all get back.

BruceB on August 31, 2009 at 10:50 AM

The First Amendment explicitly protects the right to petition the government. Lobbying is most definitely Constitutionally protected.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Yojimbo on August 31, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Some of us have the quaint idea that the phrase “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech” to mean Congress shall make no law restricting the speech of one citizen to anybody. Extremist, I know.

Chris_Balsz on August 31, 2009 at 10:52 AM

OT: Apparently, the Japanese equivalent of Obama just won big in their legislature.

Count to 10 on August 31, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Another win for “K” Street….

Updated guidance was dated July 24th and sent to all Dept. and agencies.

If any person is a federally registered lobbyist speaking on behalf of a client or employer for whom the lobbyist is registered, please take the following steps:
(1)
Inform the person(s) that you will document the fact of the conversation in writing, including the name of the lobbyist and other participants, together with a brief description of the conversation, for public posting on the agency’s recovery website within 3 days.
(2)
Subject to the exceptions contained in Part A and Part B above, document each in-person or telephonic conversation concerning Recovery Act funding with a registered lobbyist immediately after the conversation. You may either use the attached electronic form (remember that this form must be posted on the website within 3 days of the conversation), or the technology tool available
The Updated Guidance provides a form that officials may use to document such communications; the posting must contain the following:

* The date of contact;

* The names of the parties to the conversation;

* The name of the lobbyist’s client(s);

* A general, one-sentence description of the substance of the conversation; and

* Attachments that consist of any written materials prepared by outside participants of the meeting that were submitted in connection with the meeting.

“public posting on the agency’s recovery website within 3 days.”
They must have a slow Internet connection

Updated Guidance Memorandum to provide clarification of the President’s Memorandum.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09-24.pdf

woogs on August 31, 2009 at 10:53 AM

This is just how the Neo-Coms work. Get used to it, comrade.

Akzed on August 31, 2009 at 10:54 AM

I have yet to see one compelling reason to keep Education around.

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Well, just look at the results in education since it was created. Enough said I think.

Morph the Dept of Homeland Security into the Dept of Defense. Change the Dept of Defense into the old school name, Dept of War (just to scare a few countries). ;-)

WashJeff on August 31, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Didn’t we have a candidate that was going to make these people famous?

fourdeucer on August 31, 2009 at 10:54 AM

… Japanese equivalent of Obama…

Count to 10 on August 31, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Wtf? Half korean, born in Okinawa ?

gh on August 31, 2009 at 10:56 AM

As the saying goes – Money Talks; BS Walks. The primary job of every member of congress, from top to bottom, is REELECTION…and it takes mucho grande dollars to get reelected. Lobbyists have those mucho grande dollars in their chubby little fists, ready to hand out in the quid quo pro dejour. Now, who in their right mind would do anything to harm the folks who give away money??

It’s like term limits – just never going to happen. They refuse to fall on their own sword.

GoldenEagle4444 on August 31, 2009 at 10:57 AM

OT: Apparently, the Japanese equivalent of Obama just won big in their legislature. Count to 10 on August 31, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Good. Let’s hope that all of our competitors are so weakened.

Wtf? Half korean, born in Okinawa ?
gh on August 31, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Okinowa is Japan, silly. More like, Half Korean, born in Kenya.

Akzed on August 31, 2009 at 10:59 AM

i’m glad that WaPo is bringing even a few bits of Obambi’s lies to light. alot of libs i know think that only WaPo speaks the truth–certainly not FNC, the Boss (MM) or Beck or Rush.

kelley in virginia on August 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM

kelley,

I think the Post’s publishers and editors have fiqured out that if they are to survive as a newspaper, they must not walk lockstep with the Obama administration or the minions that echo the rhetoric. While they are still mostly filled with left-wing “journalist”, Wapo seems to “get it” that there are readers out there that hate what our government is doing to this nation financailly and morally.

Unlike the New York Times, who will “live the lie” until they perish—which can’t come soon enough.

Rovin on August 31, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Why do I keep humming Sting’s “Every breathe you take”…??

Seems like every dumbass thing the administration does (which is daily, if not hourly), Obama and his minions of czars go down a notch in the polls. Which means, I guess, I’m humming because “I’ll be watching you”.

Catherine Wilkinson on August 31, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Didn’t we have a candidate that was going to make these people famous?

fourdeucer on August 31, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Yes. And it’s shocking that he has been silent.

faraway on August 31, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Yet I’ll bet a million bucks that if everyone at HA got together and showed up at some congressional function and spoke to a congressman about some legislation we’d be labeled corrupt lobbyists. As we left in disgust, we’d probably pass a pack of SEIU members with fresh checks in hand…

Spiritk9 on August 31, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Okinowa is Japan,

Akzed on August 31, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Of course actual birth was in Pyong-yang but photocopy of birth cert. shows Okinawa.

gh on August 31, 2009 at 11:09 AM

Haven’t you heard?
Lobbyists make the world go ’round!
WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

elderberry on August 31, 2009 at 11:15 AM

OT: Apparently, the Japanese equivalent of Obama just won big in their legislature.

Count to 10 on August 31, 2009 at 10:52 AM

He’s more like the equivalent of Ross Perot. Ran a populist campaign even though he is one of the richest men in Japan.

rockmom on August 31, 2009 at 11:20 AM

I thought we were supposed to judge liberals on their intentions and not their actions?

ted c on August 31, 2009 at 11:23 AM

I think Michelle will have enough material to write a 2nd book.

izoneguy on August 31, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Amen. Obama is making Michelle and Sarah Palin rich. Couldn’t happen to two better folks!

Christian Conservative on August 31, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Oops. Hit strike vs. quote. Sorry izoneguy. Got to use Preview!!!

Christian Conservative on August 31, 2009 at 11:32 AM

There is no part of this administration that is CLEAN

bluegrass on August 31, 2009 at 11:39 AM

and our money could remain in our communities and states, where we could keep a closer eye on it and have more control over how it gets spent.

that’s about one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a while. One of the reasons I moved to NH was that this state used to be heavy on local control. It still is but each year it seems to become a little less–especially since we became a blue state. I’d like to go backwards-regress if you will, on this issue.

jeanie on August 31, 2009 at 11:50 AM

When’s that ‘transparent’ web site going to be up and running, where folks can see how the money was spent?

GarandFan on August 31, 2009 at 11:56 AM

If we want to reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington DC, we have to spend less money and make their rewards more elusive.

The primary reason that companies hire lobbyists is to protect them from government overreaching — in the form of excessive taxation, unnecessary regulation, and tilting the playing field in favor of their competitors. These are valid concerns, which the founders recognized by the Redress Clause, and probably two-thirds of all lobbyists are engaged for just this reason — protection.
What the founders did not envision, however, was the out of control growth of governments, state and federal, that we have seen in the last 60 years or longer, becoming so large that special interests would be using lobbyists to compete for the taxpayer money these governments would be doling out. Hence, a whole new industry was born, which now employs a third or so of all lobbyists.
But, to the founder’s credit, they did provide an ultimate check and balance against all of the above: regular election by the people of their representatives. The founders, however, assumed an electorate that would actually stay informed, actively participate in this selection process, and ride heard over their representatives, as they certainly did back then.
Which is a long way to say that while some lobbying serves a valid and necessary purpose, the real and only solution is for the people to get smart, get active, elect honest people who want to diminish government, and stay on top of them. In other words, make them accountable to you and only you, and they won’t care about lobby money or influence.

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 12:06 PM

The administration is as crooked as a dog’s leg and as dirty as a gas station toilet seat cover.

rplat on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Very eloquently stated!

Jeff from WI on August 31, 2009 at 12:51 PM

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Gerat, couldn’t agree more. Just take Rep. Charlie Ragelof the Ways and Means as an example. Here is a guy who grew up in poverty, went into the military and went to college and law school on the GI Bill. He hasn’t had a private sector job since the mid 1960′s and has amassed wellover $2.5 million (reported anyway). That’s why we will never have any type of reform unfortunately. Just too damn much money.

blue1 on August 31, 2009 at 1:14 PM

The administration is as crooked as a dog’s leg and as dirty as a gas station toilet seat cover.

rplat on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM

i love dogs. lobbyists, not so much.

kelley in virginia on August 31, 2009 at 10:37 AM

I love dirty toilet seats more than Democrats

Jeff from WI on August 31, 2009 at 1:41 PM

“Pork barrel is a derogatory term referring to appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.”

It includes many earmarks but is not the same.

burt on August 31, 2009 at 2:43 PM

The solution is as easy as 2 words. Term Limits.

Alas, no more career, saliva drooling, prune faced, out of touch, never earned an honest dime, politicians.

enoughalready on August 31, 2009 at 11:43 PM