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The Obama Files

Obama’s Broken Lobbyist Promise

January 24, 2012

Obama promised his White House wouldn’t be influenced by lobbyists, yet they maintain powerful roles in his Administration and have bankrolled his campaigns.

Obama Vowed To Keep Lobbyists Out Of The White House

Obama: “When I Am President, They [Lobbyists] Won’t Find A Job In My White House.” OBAMA: “One year from now, we have the chance to tell all those corporate lobbyists that the days of them setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race – and I’ve won. I don’t take a dime of their money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Spartanburg, SC, 11/3/07)

Obama Broke His Promise Immediately After Taking Office

Just Weeks After His Inauguration, Obama Admitted He Broke His Pledge. MR. WALLACE: “On your first day in office, you signed an executive order on lobbyists.” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Right.” MR. WALLACE: “That you said marks a, quote, ‘clean break with business as usual,’ and yet in less than two weeks, you have signed waivers to allow the hiring of lobbyists to be Deputy Secretary at the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary at HHS and Chief of Staff at the Treasury. Is that a clean break?” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Well, that’s three out of hundreds of appointments that we’ve made. MR. WALLACE: “But it’s three of the top jobs in three really important departments –“ PRESIDENT OBAMA: “But let me say this, Chris. We disclosed these ahead of time. We set a very high bar and everybody acknowledges that we have the toughest standards, not only of people who have lobbyists previously and the restrictions on them working in this White House, but also going forward and those rules will still apply.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 2/3/09)

  • Politifact Called Obama’s Lobbyists Promise “His Biggest Broken Promise.” “We rate Obama’s ‘revolving door’ policy for former lobbyists his biggest broken promise.” (Angie Drobnic Holan, “Not So Fast On Obama Revolving Door Policy,” Politifact, 1/23/09)

Immigration Lobbyist, Cecilia Munoz Was Appointed Obama’s Domestic Policy Council Head. “President Obama has picked a strong advocate of immigration reform to head the Domestic Policy Council. The White House announced Tuesday that Cecilia Muñoz, a former senior vice president of the National Council of La Raza, would replace Melody Barnes at the top of the council. White House press secretary Jay Carney announced the appointment during his press briefing.” (Amie Parnes and Erik Wasson, “Obama Picks Immigration Reform Advocate To Lead Domestic Policy,” The Hill, 1/10/12)

  • Munoz Was A Registered Lobbyist For La Raza Through 2008, But Received “A Waiver To Join The Obama Administration.” “Cecilia Muñoz, who was one of the lucky few lobbyists to get a waiver to join the Obama administration, is moving up from her position as the director of intergovernmental affairs to director of the Domestic Policy Council, the White House announced today. Muñoz was registered to lobby for the National Council of La Raza through the fourth quarter of 2008.” (Andrew Joseph, “Former Lobbyist Promoted at White House,” National Journal, “Influence Alley,” 1/10/12)

Obama Told Voters Lobbyists Were Banned From His Campaign, Too

Obama: “I’m Not Gonna Have Somebody Who Could, In Some Way, Create Favor With Me In The Federal Government Involved In My Campaigns.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 1/7/08)

But Lobbyists Are Among Obama’s Most Active Campaign Supporters

Obama Hired Veteran Lobbyist, Broderick Johnson As A 2012 Campaign Adviser. “K Street and Capitol Hill veteran Broderick Johnson is joining the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama as a senior adviser.” (Michael Beckel, “Ex-Lobbyist Becomes Top Obama Surrogate, Who Are The 99.95 Percent? And More In Capital Eye Opener: Oct. 25,” Center For Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org, Posted 10/25/11)

  • Johnson Lobbied For Major Corporations And Wall Street Firms. “During his time in the private sector in Washington, Johnson has also worked for Wiley, Rein & Fielding, the Oliver Group, Bryan Cave Strategies, Bryan Cave LLP and the Collins-Johnson Group, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. In addition to AT&T, Johnson’s clients over the years have included numerous political heavy weights, federal lobbying records show, such as Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Comcast, Fannie Mae, FedEx, Ford, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Shell Oil, Time Warner and Verizon.” (Michael Beckel, “Ex-Lobbyist Becomes Top Obama Surrogate, Who Are The 99.95 Percent? And More In Capital Eye Opener: Oct. 25,” Center For Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org, Posted 10/25/11)

Campaign Bundlers “Involved In Lobbying” Have Helped Raise “More Than $5 Million” For Obama’s Reelection Effort. “Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid. At least 15 of Mr. Obama’s ‘bundlers’ — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign.” (Eric Lichtblau, “Obama Backers Tied To Lobbies Raise Millions,” The New York Times, 10/27/11)

  • Sally Susman Head Of Pfizer’s “Powerful Lobbying Shop” Bundled “More Than $500,000” For Obama. “Take Sally Susman. An executive at the drug-maker Pfizer, she has raised more than $500,000 for the president’s re-election and helped organize a $35,800-a-ticket dinner that Mr. Obama attended in Manhattan in June. At the same time, she leads Pfizer’s powerful lobbying shop, and she has visited the White House four times since 2009 — twice on export issues. But under the byzantine rules that govern federal lobbying, Ms. Susman has not registered with the Senate as a lobbyist.” (Eric Lichtblau, “Obama Backers Tied To Lobbies Raise Millions,” The New York Times, 10/27/11)
  • Andy Spahn “Made His Name Doing Lobbying” For DreamWorks And Has Bundled “At Least $500,000” For Obama Reelection. “Mr. Spahn, who made his name doing lobbying work for DreamWorks film studio and was appointed by Mr. Obama to a presidential committee on the arts, has raised at least $500,000 for the president’s re-election.” (Eric Lichtblau, “Obama Backers Tied To Lobbies Raise Millions,” The New York Times, 10/27/11)
  • Comcast Lobbyist, David Cohen, Is A Member Of Obama’s “Exclusive $500,000 Bundling Club.” “Nor has David L. Cohen, who oversees lobbying at the Comcast Corporation and is also a member of Mr. Obama’s exclusive $500,000 bundling club. At a June fund-raiser in the backyard of his Philadelphia home, Mr. Cohen hosted the president and some 120 guests who paid at least $10,000 each to attend; Mr. Obama called Mr. Cohen and his wife ‘great friends.”’ (Eric Lichtblau, “Obama Backers Tied To Lobbies Raise Millions,” The New York Times, 10/27/11)