Well, as it turns out, there's a reason President Obama is able to claim accurately that lobbyist visits to the Whitehouse are down considerably. This is because Administration officials have taken to clandestine meetings held in upscale coffee shops in the D.C. area. There are a couple of dangers here, beyond the fact that lobbyist meetings are happening at all. First, a brief discussion about lobbyists. They are an exercise of a group of citizens first amendment rights. I have no problem with a paid mouthpiece speaking to politicians on behalf of any group who wishes to petition our elected leaders. I have sat for a while and listened to people whine and moan about the corrupting influence money has on politics, while discounting the money used by the interest groups on their side of a debate. I will state it another way. The definition of a special interest is dependant entirely on which side you agree with. I choose to put my faith in the American People to make the right decisions most of the time. We get elections right more often than we get them wrong. When it is all said and done, our Constitution will survive the current crop of dolts who make up the Executive Branch. My complaint is not that President Obama and his crew of thugs and criminals are meeting with lobbyists. My complaint is that there is no transparency. The guest books are not being signed. Candidate Obama decried the horrible conflicts of interest which were supposedly commonplace under George Bush's watch. He immediately issued, with much fanfare, an executive order prohibiting lobbyist from serving in his Administration for any purpose which they had ever worked on as a lobbyist. With much less fanfare, he issued his voluminous waivers, so that his rule could be ignored. At least with other Presidents, we were alerted to the possibility of conflicts, as we had the guest logs of Presidential appointments to look at. With Bush, we knew who the President met with, and who his staff met with. With President Obama, it took a court order to get the log books, and it spurred on the clandestine meetings in and around Washington D.C.
Is our President perpetrating the pay to play scams that are so prevalent in the Chicago swampland where he honed his political skills? It sure would be nice to have a glimmer of that new transparency he promised all through 2008. Is this loopy insistence on high speed rail projects at a cost in excess of $53 Billion payback to the hundreds of union locals which will benefit the most part of a deal made between the Interior department and AFLCIO President Richard Trumka at a Caribou Coffee house on K Street. No one is talking about the meeting, but Trumka is certainly not keeping quiet about the fact that he wields power within the Executive Branch. As a matter of fact, Trumka is down right braggadocios about the influence he has now a days.
From the New York Times, here is some more info.
On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.
But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the “most transparent presidential administration in history.”
The off-site meetings, lobbyists say, reveal a disconnect between the Obama administration’s public rhetoric — with Mr. Obama himself frequently thrashing big industries’ “battalions” of lobbyists as enemies of reform — and the administration’s continuing, private dealings with them.
Attempts to put distance between the White House and lobbyists are not limited to meetings. Some lobbyists say that they routinely get e-mail messages from White House staff members’ personal accounts rather than from their official White House accounts, which can become subject to public review. Administration officials said there were some permissible exceptions to a federal law requiring staff members to use their official accounts and retain the correspondence.
And while Mr. Obama has imposed restrictions on hiring lobbyists for government posts, the administration has used waivers and recusals more than two dozen times to appoint lobbyists to political positions. Two lobbyists also cited instances in which the White House had suggested that a job candidate be “deregistered” as a lobbyist in Senate records to avoid violating the administration’s hiring restrictions.
Employees at Caribou Coffee — which many lobbyists said appeared to be the favorite spot for off-site meetings, in part because of its proximity to the White House — welcome the increased traffic.
“They’re here all the time — all day,” Andre Williams, a manager at Caribou Coffee, said of his White House customers. (He can spot White House officials by the security badges around their necks, or the Secret Service agents lurking nearby.)
As I stated before, I don't mind the meetings with lobbyists. I do however mind that the meetings are kept secret. We, as taxpayers and citizens have a right to know what the Executive Branch is up to. Obama got himself elected by promising to end the cynical nature of politics in Washington. He has led as perhaps the opposite of that. He has fought tooth and nail to keep the citizens' business a secret from the citizens. His is so far the single most cynical Administration Evah.