Wotka World Wide

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

It says a lot when Frank Rich of the New York Times notes the appalling influence of lobbyists over the Democrats in power, just like they had over the Republicans not too long ago:

Barack Obama promised a change from this revolving-door, behind-closed-doors collaboration between special interests and government. He vowed to “do our business in the light of day” — with health care negotiations broadcast on C-Span — and to “restore the vital trust between people and their government.” He said, “I intend to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.” That those lobbyists would so extravagantly flaunt their undiminished role shows just how little they believe that a new sheriff has arrived in Dodge.

In his scathing Wall Street Journal column on The Post articles last week, Thomas Frank crystallized the gap between Obama’s pledge and this reality. “There is something uniquely depressing about the fact that the National Portrait Gallery’s version of the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster previously belonged to a pair of lobbyists.” That’s no joke: It was donated by Tony and Heather Podesta.
This campaign rhetoric certainly doesn't square with the current reality:
[Y]ou have to wonder what some of the Obama era’s most moneyed and White House-connected lobbyists were thinking as they preened before a Washington Post reporter recently for twolengthy articles. We’re not even nine months into the new administration, yet these swaggering, utterly un-self-aware influence peddlers seem determined to prove that nothing except the party affiliations has changed in the Beltway’s pay-for-play culture since Tom DeLay. If these lobbyists were stocks, I’d short them.

One of the articles focused on Heather Podesta — “The It Girl of a New Generation of Lobbyists” — who lobbies for health care players like Eli Lilly, HealthSouth and Cigna. Podesta is half of what The Post has called a “mega-lobbying” couple. Her husband, with his own separate (and larger) lobbying shop, is Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, the Clinton White House chief of staff who ran the Obama transition. Back in November, Tony Podesta told The Times that only “very unsophisticated” clients would hire his firm because of his brother’s role in assembling the new administration. That encyclopedic and ever-expanding list of “unsophisticated” clients includes Amgen and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — and that’s just among the A’s. His business was up 57 percent from last year in the first six months of 2009. Heather Podesta’s was up 65 percent.
Read the whole thing.

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