Caribou Conspiracy continues?

posted at 12:15 pm on February 25, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Last June, the New York Times wrote an exposé of the Obama administration’s secret meetings with K Street lobbyists at a local Caribou Coffee outlet.  The plan allowed the White House to connect with lobbyists without publicly acknowledging the meetings — and apparently avoided the reporting requirements for transparency imposed on the executive branch.  By the time that article appeared, Eric Lichtblau reported “hundreds” of secret meetings between the Obama team and lobbyists at Caribou and other coffee shops around DC.

According to Politico, the practice continues to this day.  They have just moved out of the coffee shops and into meeting rooms in Jackson Place, where the Secret Service doesn’t keep visitor logs or do background checks on visitors:

Caught between their boss’s anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds – and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident.

It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs collected on visitors to the White House and later released to the public. …

There are no records of meetings at the row houses just off Lafayette Square that house the White House Conference Center and the Council on Environmental Quality, home to two of the busiest meeting spaces. The White House can’t say who attended meetings there, or how often. The Secret Service doesn’t log in visitors or require a background check the way it does at the main gates of the White House.

Chris Frates also includes the earlier NYT reporting on Caribou Coffee consumption, although it’s unclear whether the Obama administration is still pursuing that strategy.  One new wrinkle that has been implemented is a demand for confidentiality agreements from meeting participants:

And administration officials recently asked some lobbyists and others who met with them to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from disclosing what was discussed at meetings with administration officials, in that case a rental policy working group.

How would those confidentiality agreements work, anyway?  Unless the discussion involved classified material, any attempt to enforce such agreements would face challenges based on both First Amendment and open-government laws.  They would be less legally effective than non-compete clauses, and one would suspect that any administration — even this one — would be loathe to file a claim in court to silence a lobbyist.  Normally, administrations enforce the informal understanding of confidentiality with lobbyists by freezing out those who violate trust, not by waving a piece of paper and saying, “You agreed to keep quiet!”

In any case, these efforts by the Obama administration have left the White House with all the transparency of a double-shot skinny latte venti.  Obama got elected on the promise of more transparency and an end to back-room deals with lobbyists, so he set the bar on these issues and should be held accountable for the backwards direction his team has gone since he took office.


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If they meet with union bosses daily in the White House, who are they afraid to be seen with?

faraway on February 25, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Time for some perestrioka.

itsnotaboutme on February 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Laws are for little people.

Rebar on February 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Caribou Coffee has what has to be the lousiest coffee on the planet! Be it regular, latte, or cappucino, the stuff tastes like it was burnt first before it was brewed, then doused in something that smells like two week old baboon piss!

So it does not surprise me that Obama would want to hold secret meetings in a dive like Caribou, since the person he would be meeting with would agree with anything, just to get out of the place as fast as humanly possible.

pilamaye on February 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

One FOIA request coming right up — asking for all those nondisclosure agreements.

unclesmrgol on February 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Obama got elected on the promise of more transparency and an end to back-room deals with lobbyists, so he set the bar on these issues and should be held accountable for the backwards direction his team has gone since he took office.

Ed, your optimism is as impressive as it is boundless.

Mord on February 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

*facepalm* I meant glasnost.
Obama’s already done too much perestrioka.

itsnotaboutme on February 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM

I thought this was going to be a Palin thread.

Missy on February 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing

Man. That “reality of governing” stuff is a bear.

misterpeasea on February 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM

So!!!! It has been shown time and again that this is a lawless admin,,,,,,So when do we start the impeachment proceedings and exile this POS to Libya with his buddy.

retiredeagle on February 25, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Ridin’ dirty.

a capella on February 25, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Last June, the New York Times wrote an exposé of the Obama administration’s secret meetings with K Street lobbyists at a local Caribou Coffee outlet.

Of course, this is nothing new. In fact, the term “lobbyist” came from a time back in the 1800s when interest groups would cut deals with lawmakers in the bar at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel (which, it just so happens, is just off the hotel’s lobby).

That said, how does the Administration conduct secret meetings in a public place like a coffee shop? Does that Caribou shop have a secret back room?

Even still–pretty wild stuff.

Outlander on February 25, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Caught between their boss’s anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House ground

Oh, yeah. I’m sure these poor staffers are doing this to avoid running afoul of The 0ne. I’m sure he had no idea this was going on.

CurtZHP on February 25, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Transparently corrupt.

rbj on February 25, 2011 at 12:27 PM

and out of Secret Service logs collected on visitors to the White House

And allow leftist types without proper (or denied) security clearance to enter the WH to meet with WH officials off-site.

andycanuck on February 25, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Lightworker or something……………All Hail!

dmann on February 25, 2011 at 12:30 PM

BTW, didn’t someone tell Glenn Reynolds that if he voted for McCain someone with ties to caribou would be running a secret government?

andycanuck on February 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Do those that elected Obama on promises of “transparency” care?

visions on February 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM

visions on February 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Remember, its all about the healing………..

dmann on February 25, 2011 at 12:33 PM

The Secret Service doesn’t log in visitors or require a background check the way it does at the main gates of the White House.

Think about this: You need special police approval just to walk in the front door of the “People’s House,” and could in theory be denied entry for being on some list somewhere, even if personally summoned by the EOP.

(Not that there’s anything new about this; I’m not claiming it’s Obama’a fault.)

The Lone Platypus on February 25, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Czars need coffee too.

faraway on February 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Obama got elected on the promise

Promises, promises, you knew you’d never keep

catmman on February 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Hope and Change.

You fools who fell for it are…well…fools.

Bishop on February 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

so he set the bar on these issues and should be held accountable for the backwards direction his team has gone since he took office.

And since when has this administration been concerned about accountability?

GrayDog on February 25, 2011 at 12:39 PM

That said, how does the Administration conduct secret meetings in a public place like a coffee shop? Does that Caribou shop have a secret back room?

It’s not secret in the way you and I define the word; anyone could obviously walk in and see who was there, if you actually could recognize any of them. It’s “secret” only in Journalistland, because they consider “reporting” to be the act of snapping their fingers, dumping an FOIA request on some poor government drone, and having all their work done for them.

Since no records are kept here, they can’t get the data without actually having to work for it (stakeouts, interviewing employees, etc.). Thus, it’s all “secret.”

The Lone Platypus on February 25, 2011 at 12:40 PM

There is just so much to use against this admin in the upcoming election! If I don’t see a new weekly campaign video outlying the illegality and deception of this admin I will continue to withhold my money from the RNC!

CCRWM on February 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

pilamaye on February 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

See, and I was about to write that their Mahogany Blend whole-bean is just about the perfect coffee.

DrSteve on February 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM

And administration officials recently asked some lobbyists and others who met with them to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from disclosing what was discussed at meetings with administration officials, in that case a rental policy working group.

That should scare the hell out of everyone. Rental policy = more HUD funds corruptly diverted to developers and financiers of low-income housing, e.g. Valerie Jarrett. There is a large group of these developers that have been clamoring for years for the old Section 8 gravy train to get restarted, and they are all Democrats. Of course, the White House does not want us to know who they are, who they met with, and what they talked about. It will all be hidden in the HUD budget, but you can bet some influential Democrats are about to get rich.

rockmom on February 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM

As transparent as a one-way mirror.

Electrongod on February 25, 2011 at 12:43 PM

BTW, there was a study of “investigative journalism” done by some college a few years ago. It turned out that something like 92% of such stories are the direct result of someone on the onside literally handing or emailing the information to a reporter.

The days of Woodward and Bernstein are long gone. (Their own role in forwarding Watergate is also highly overstated, but that’s a story for another time.)

The Lone Platypus on February 25, 2011 at 12:46 PM

yes Obama had HUD lobbyists sign confidentiality deals so we wont see the foreclosed homes how low rental housing units conversion until it is completed. unreal.

Bama gonna pay my mortgage!

yep she will live in a foreclosed home in gated community on taxpayer $.

ginaswo on February 25, 2011 at 12:47 PM

Obutthead, and his goons make those Nevada hookers look like virgins, and clueless to the realities of the world.

Welcome to the hope n change of a dictator.

capejasmine on February 25, 2011 at 12:49 PM

She is the Caribou Barbie, so let’s blame Palin.

The lefties seldom make their points without using the logical fallacies, so why not?

mwbri on February 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Link to the Politico story?

DaveS on February 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

DaveS on February 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Just a click away

dmann on February 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM

“… and should be held accountable for the backwards direction his team has gone since he took office lying.”

FIFY, Ed. It’s certainly your prerogative to equivocate about or obfuscate the actions of the Obama Administration, but it’s hardly being honest about it.

Dusty on February 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Lawlessness,,soft tyranny[courtesy of Mark Levin], not giving a damn about the country or its people,just a radical left wing agenda to completely change what this country is and the only persons willing to call him out on it are a few females.People need to understand this is a war, you do not get along with the enemy, you identify it and defeat it. Obama and his people are enemies of this country and its people, plain and simple

retiredeagle on February 25, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Where’s Deep Throat when you need him? We are all Chicago now.

Kissmygrits on February 25, 2011 at 1:04 PM

This could be two things. One, an attempt to hide dealings with Liberal lobbyists or lobbyists in general. Or two, it could also be an attempt to hide these meetings from the Far Left base. Remember Occidental Petroleum, among others, were big donors to Obama. I don’t think the Libs/EnviroWhackos would be too happy the WH was having meetings with such capitalist evil-doers.

Deanna on February 25, 2011 at 1:06 PM

If they meet with union bosses daily in the White House, who are they afraid to be seen with?

faraway on February 25, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Boom! Right out of the box. Frightening.

It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs collected on visitors to the White House and later released to the public…

Can we call them undocumented lobbyists?

Fallon on February 25, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Caribou Coffee is owned by supporters of radical Islamists

georgealbert on February 25, 2011 at 1:24 PM

…so he set the bar on these issues and should be held accountable for the backwards direction his team has gone since he took office.

Should be. Won’t be.

SKYFOX on February 25, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Hiding in Plain Sight

Lily on February 25, 2011 at 1:37 PM

The entire White House with grounds — the entire property — is going to require a blessing ceremony / exorcism / “cleansing” / call it what it is in various denominations, but the point is, the entire property is going to require a decidedly re-establishing-for-decency-and-good ceremony in January 2013 before the new First Family moves in.

The place has become saturated in something that’s indecent to and about our nation.

Lourdes on February 25, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Caribou Coffee is owned by supporters of radical Islamists

georgealbert on February 25, 2011 at 1:24 PM

I’m very glad you mentioned that because, yes, yes it is.

Lourdes on February 25, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Link to the Politico story?

DaveS on February 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

DaveS on February 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Just a click away

dmann on February 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM

POLITICO story (though I am not an advocate of that Leftwing site)…

W.H. meets lobbyists off campus

Published 2/24/11 @ 4:41 AM ET By CHRIS FRATES

It keeps the meetings out of Secret Service logs.

(Emphasis added).

Seems a bit of a boast by the Left/the Obama Admin. that they’re dodging the scrutiny of security, which then means, likely, one thing: meets at Caribou are contrary to national security and/or circumstances that would require Secret Service report/prior consideration and approval.

Someone said in 2008 that Axelrod edits/edited Politico, by the way. “someone said” is me referring to he/she-who-shall-remain-anonymous.

Lourdes on February 25, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Where’s Deep Throat when you need him? We are all Chicago now.

Kissmygrits on February 25, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Even if there was a Deep Throat, there would have to be a real journalist in the old media interested in listening. There’s not.

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Obama is as transparent as caca.

See Gibbs. Now see Carney. All three are the same.

Schadenfreude on February 25, 2011 at 2:10 PM

If the Slimes found out about this what are the odds that foreign intel services have the places bugged?

Jeepers, just when you think ODumbAss had already plummeted to the utter depths of stupidity, he and his crew reach for the inner strength to reach ever lower.

dogsoldier on February 25, 2011 at 2:18 PM

The Lone Platypus on February 25, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Good points. I want to see some real journalism.
Not a bunch of Brockovich’s AKA hacks.
Journalism should be like detectives or scientists.
Reporting fact & not rumor or innuendo.
Get the whole story & then publish it.
Proof. Facts.
I know I’m dreaming.

Caribou Coffee is owned by supporters of radical Islamists

georgealbert on February 25, 2011 at 1:24 PM
I’m very glad you mentioned that because, yes, yes it is.

Lourdes on February 25, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Holy crap. Glad I don’t buy that stuff.

Badger40 on February 25, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) have two valid applications. National Security (DoD, NSA, FBI, CIA, etc) and corporate Intellectual Property (IP) rights. What is being discussed between members of the administration staff and non-security related parties CANNOT be subjected to an NDA, under numerous articles of USC, not to mention that pesky FOIA.

Change = The administration’s sense of entitlement to abide by only those laws which don’t interfere with their agenda.

And character still matters.

Freelancer on February 25, 2011 at 2:39 PM

The broken promise of transparency will be huge in persuading former Obama voters they made a mistake.

Use it!

exdeadhead on February 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

“B-b-b-but-but, Dick Cheney! Big Oil!”

-libtards

Ward Cleaver on February 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

First the Slimes, and now Politico? Rats jumping off a sinking ship.

This is one of the many things GOP hopefuls should hammer on in 2012.

Ward Cleaver on February 25, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Caribou Coffee is owned by supporters of radical Islamists

georgealbert on February 25, 2011 at 1:24 PM

True, and they’re declared that their places are strictly halal.

Ward Cleaver on February 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Normally, administrations enforce the informal understanding of confidentiality with lobbyists by freezing out those who violate trust, not by waving a piece of paper and saying, “You agreed to keep quiet!”

Do you really think all they’ll do is wave a piece of paper around? No, of course you don’t.

Do you really think this bunch couldn’t find a sympathetic judge that would do whatever he was told in the way of punishing someone who didn’t keep quiet?

Finally, do you really think those who were party to these illegal meetings don’t know how utterly destroyed they would be by this bunch if they talked? We’re not talking about playground bullies here, we’re talking about leftists. They’ve murdered a hundred million people and enslaved a billion, and that’s just over the last century.

runawayyyy on February 25, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Hey, what happened to DaveS after he got the link?

Fallon on February 25, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Of course teh won is going to support Caribou Coffee. It’s owned by muslims (http://www.boycottwatch.org/caribou/caribou03.htm) directly linked to terrorists.

connectthedots on February 26, 2011 at 12:17 AM