The Campaign Spot

The Sin of Lobbying Washes Away After Two Years

So it seemed the Obama administration was going to have clear rules on lobbyists working in the administration:

On Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Obama’s chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, explained the role of lobbyists in an Obama administration this way:
“No one who’s an active lobbyist, no one who’s been lobbying on issues for the last two years related to their industries is going to come into our administration and work on those.”
Following up, host George Stephanopoulos asked, “So, that means that if you worked in the energy industry, you’re not going to be able to get a job at the Department of Energy?”
And Axelrod replied, “If you were a lobbyist in the last couple of years, that’s exactly right.”

Eric Holder, the nominee for Attorney General, skirts the rules set out by Axelrod. He registered as a lobbyist from 2002 to 2004. Will Global Crossing ever run across the Department of Justice in the next four years? Well, Holder lobbied for them, but it’s outside the two-year window, so apparently it’s okay.

Holder is still at the firm where he did the lobbying, Covington & Burling LLP, but is apparently no longer a registered lobbyist. But a list of the firm’s clients include some giants, who seem near-certain to be affected by Justice Department decisions in one way or another over the next four years. Will Holder recuse himself from decisions that affect Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Shell Oil, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Yahoo, Bank of America, the Ford Foundation, Goodyear Tire, and the governments of Singapore and the United Arab Emirates?

Will the argument from the Obama camp really be that there is no potential conflict of interest in a law-enforcement official making decisions about clients of his former employer?

Everybody, all together now: “All statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.”

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