What’s the point of hoping if you can’t snatch some change? Or so seems to be the logic among the Obama supporters who went into government following the election. According to the Washington Post former aides in the Obama Administration are making some serious loot off their public service.
Obama came into office promising that his administration would hew to higher standards than his predecessors did. He implemented rules barring former aides from directly lobbying the government for two years and frequently decries the influence of “special interests” in Washington.
But the efforts have done little to slow a tide of groups hiring former top aides as highly paid consultants, speakers and media advisers in an effort to influence the administration — part of a longtime Washington practice in which interest groups seek access to the White House by hiring people who used to work there.
So the same old Washington song – curse the system then cash in. But what about practical policy influence? Remember that killer pipeline?
The decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a political headache for President Obama. But to five of his former aides, it represents a business opportunity.
Four of them — Bill Burton, Stephanie Cutter, Jim Papa and Paul Tewes — work as consultants for opponents of the project, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. Another, former White House communications director Anita Dunn, counts the project’s sponsor, TransCanada, among the clients of her communications firm.
Stephanie Cutter is also making money working for Bank of America. Getting tough on Wall Street right? Of course other faces of Team Obama are wetting their beaks with questionable business.
Obama’s top former political advisers — Robert Gibbs, Jim Messina and David Plouffe — were given five-figure checks to deliver remarks at a forum in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, which is in the midst of a campaign to burnish its image in Washington.
The Institute For Reporters’ Freedom called the Azerbaijan forum a “publicity stunt for an increasingly authoritarian regime.” And you were hoping for change?
While it is not surprising that former presidential aides are trying to get rich, it is somewhat obnoxious to have such rank hypocrisy on issues like Climate Change, human rights, and influence peddling. It is hard to say which is worse – the behavior or the hypocrisy of the behavior.
Photo by Susan NYC under Creative Commons license