On Tuesday, John Podesta, the head of President-elect Obama’s transition team, said that lobbyists will be banned from working on the transition team in his or her area of expertise. According to reports, that means that anyone who has been a lobbyist within the past year cannot work on the transition team.
It seems that Podesta is targeting those evil corporate lobbyists, who were vilified by Sen. Obama in his campaign. But, one doubts that Podesta himself will be considered a lobbyist, even though he heads the policy group Center for American Progress and its lobbying arm, the CAP Action Fund.
But, of course, that is a “pure” group not influenced by the money that George Soros put up to help start the group. And, it won’t be influenced by its major donors, Herb and Marion Sandler, who sold Golden West Financial to Wachovia for $25 billion amd made $2.4 billion — much of which they put into their foundation. According to USA Today the sale included billions of dollars in “pick-a-pay” mortgages — adjustable rate mortgages where borrowers could defer interest due on their monthly payments. We know what happened to most of those.
I also doubt whether lobbyists for environmental, affordable housing, energy efficiency, education, senior citizens (AARP), etc. groups will be covered by this ban, even though most of those groups spend a lot of their budgets and time on the Hill influencing legislators to vote their way. Even PTA groups and church groups are lobbyists.
I think Hillary Clinton had it right during the primary campaign — even though she got attacked –when she said:
“A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans,” the New York senator said in defense of her decision to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists. “They represent nurses, they represent social workers, yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people.”
Special interests of all types and stripes represent their constituencies on Capital Hill and with the agencies. Should some “special interests” be considered better and purer than others? I don’t think that fits into the President-elect’s inclusivity position.