Regular American citizens visiting the nation's capital lost access to the White House in March as President Obama eliminated public tours to make a point in his battle with House Republicans in the sequestration debate over cutting spending or raising taxes.
But hundreds of K Street lobbyists, including corporate advocates who are paid to influence policy on behalf of Fortune 500 giants, saw no change in their access to the chief executive and his senior aides, according to a Washington Examiner analysis of White House visitor logs and lobbying records.
The analysis found that 200 lobbyists met 344 times with White House officials at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. between March and May.
Among the lobbyists meeting with White House officials in the most recently available three-month period:
- Mary Streett, a lobbyist for energy company Exelon who lobbies on preventing clean air and water restrictions that could harm the company's bottom line, met with officials in March.
- Joshua Zive, who represents coal and energy companies, had a meeting at the White House in April.
- Joanna Acocella, who lobbies for the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, part of the for-profit college industry where schools' steep tuition and dubious training have led massive portions of students to default on their loans and which has faced a crackdown by the administration, met with Patrick Hidalgo, deputy director of the White House Business Council, as part of a large group in May.
- Lobbyists for fellow for-profit college groups Drexel University and Career Education Corp. also had meetings at the White House, records suggest. Funded almost entirely by federally backed loans, for-profit schools are so lucrative that Apollo paid its president $25 million last year.
- Roger R. Szemraj, who represents candy makers and other food interests, met with Doug McKalip, senior policy adviser for rural affairs, along with five other visitors. Cracking down on junk food in schools has been one of the first lady's signature campaigns.
- Paul Carothers, who lobbies for YUM! Brands, which owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, met with the White House Domestic Policy Council's Julie Moreno. Alcohol lobbyists and others whose Images are not entirely aligned also had significant presences.
- Arshi Siddiqui, who represents physicians, the movie industry, Siemens Corp., United Technologies Corp., UPS, and life insurers, met one-one-one with Obama economic adviser Jason Furman twice in April.
- Kim K. Bayliss, a lobbyist for corporate telecommunications giants such as Nexus Communications, met with U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, along with two others.
- Someone with the name of Donna Crane met once with the president as part of a large group and a second time in a one-on-one with a special adviser in May. Donna Crane is a top lobbyist for NARAL, the pro-choice activist group.
- Emily Heisig, who lobbies for the New England Council, a business coalition that wants to loosen immigration restrictions on highly skilled workers, met with the president March 20.
- Labor leader Hasan Solomon of the machinists' union, was granted a meeting with special adviser to the president Stephanie Valencia. Union leaders connected to the AFL-CIO had a whopping 14 meetings with White House officials in the three-month period.
The White House normally releases visitors logs quarterly, but on the same day a court decision ruled that the White House can keep some visitor information secret this month, the administration released the month of May early in an apparent public relations move.
The Examiner compared lobbying records with the names of visitors who had special appointments at the White House -- that is, did not check in to the Visitors' Office -- during March, April and May.
Because little information beyond first, middle and last names was available, this information represents a best estimate: There is no way of knowing for sure from the records whether the visitor was indeed the lobbyist with the same name.
The accompanying chart breaks down the number of meetings lobbyists had at the White House between March and May, as well as the name of the firm for which the lobbyist worked -- either a professional lobbying firm or an advocacy group where they work in-house -- and groups them by type of organization. Click on an area to zoom in.