President Obama paints himself as a scourge of lobbyists, declaring “we have excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs,” and that lobbyists “won’t work in my White House.
But Obama doesn’t count you as a lobbyist if you’re not registered to lobby — even if you lobby the federal government on behalf of a corporate client. That’s why he takes campaign contributions from the likes of David McIntosh, VP for Federal Lobbying at Siemens, and Lawrence Rasky & Joseph Baerlein, founders and leaders of the lobbying firm Rasky Baerlein. This legalism is also why he can appoint lobbying Google executive Vint Cerf to a presidential board.
So, if Obama uses a legalistic definition of “lobbyist” — someone registered as a lobbyist under the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act — it’s only fair to hold him to that standard.
And by that standard, Obama just tapped an ex-lobbyist as his chief of staff. Denis McDonough was a registered lobbyist for the liberal advocacy group the Center for American Progress. Now he’s Obama’s White House Chief of Staff.
Of course, this is nothing new for the Obama White House. The previous WH chief of staff Jack Lew worked at a lobbying firm for years after working on Capitol Hill. Joe Biden’s chiefs of staff and deputy chiefs have all been lobbyists. And more than 50 registered lobbyists have populated senior jobs in the Obama administration.