Way More than a Handful of Lobbyists Work in the Obama Administration

by Jim Geraghty

Elsewhere on NRO, Michelle Malkin greets the “sleepyheads” in the D.C. press corps who are only now noticing “the White House is infested with Beltway lobbyists.”

In today’s Morning Jolt, I noted that the New York Times reported on this topic and referred to only “a number” of lobbyists, conveniently omitting any sense of scale of the phenomenon for its readership. 

Obama Administration: Actually, We Were Cool With Lobbyists All Along

All statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.

Particularly the ones related to ideas that seem good and not particularly partisan:

The Obama administration on Tuesday rolled back part of its ban on lobbyists serving in government, narrowing one of the president’s signature policies in the face of a legal challenge.

Under a new rule, registered lobbyists whom Mr. Obama had previously barred from serving on government advisory boards may now participate if they are representing companies or groups and not acting on their own behalf.

The change was published in the Federal Register and took effect immediately, the administration said. It comes after the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the Obama administration’s efforts to dismiss a lawsuit by six lobbyists who challenged the ban’s constitutionality after being excluded from a trade advisory committee. The lobbyists said their First Amendment rights to petition the government had been violated.

The change is the latest example of the limits of the president’s effort to rein in the influence of special interests in government. Mr. Obama barred lobbyists from contributing to his campaign and signed an order on his first day in office in 2009 prohibiting them from serving in his administration.

But Mr. Obama has made a number of exceptions to that rule and has hired lobbyists for several important jobs.

Bad form, New York Times. You should offer a specific figure, or at least a ballpark range, for the “number of exceptions.”

Last year the Obama administration hit 119. The conclusion then:

Obama’s rules have largely served to fuel unregistered lobbying. He writes “as lobbying is increasingly conducted by unregistered lobbyists, the disclosure system becomes increasingly less transparent.”

Obama’s “war on lobbyists” was an attempt to capture populist passion. It worked. Now, McGrath aptly concludes, Obama “must bear some responsibility for continuing levels of public cynicism and mistrust of politics, for having made promises he knew he couldn’t keep.”