Obama's White House Consults Lobbyists On Down Low

President Obama outside the White House West Wing, Feb. 10, 2011. i i

hide captionPresident Obama outside the White House West Wing, Feb. 10, 2011.

Charles Dharapak/ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Obama outside the White House West Wing, Feb. 10, 2011.

President Obama outside the White House West Wing, Feb. 10, 2011.

Charles Dharapak/ASSOCIATED PRESS

As part of his larger pledge to change the way Washington works, President Obama as a candidate said he wouldn't have lobbyists working in his administration.

It must've seemed like such a good idea at the time. But then reality struck.

When it became clear that some of the best people to fill certain positions were lobbyists, Obama issued waivers to get them around his self-imposed ban.

On Thursday, Politico.com reports on another way the White House has had to deal with the reality that lobbyists have useful expertise and connections.

His aides have held meetings with lobbyists off the White House campus, the news outlet reports. The implication is that his aides have doing so in order not to undermine the president's pledge. And to keep all the lobbyist meetings out of the White House visitor logs. To which many will say: "tsk, tsk."

An excerpt:

"They're doing it on the side. It's better than nothing," said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none.

The White House scoffs at the notion of an ulterior motive for scheduling meetings in what are, after all, meeting rooms. But at least four lobbyists who've been to the conference rooms just off Lafayette Square tell POLITICO they had the distinct impression they were being shunted off to Jackson Place — and off the books — so their visits wouldn't later be made public.

One of the best tidbits is that in addition to the conference rooms in a building across Lafayette Park from the White House, there's a Caribou Coffee that's been the site of many meetings as well.

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