First Dot: President Obama just became the first politician to ever collect over a billion dollars in career political contributions.
His total take reached $1,017,892,305 in April, some nine years after he began his 2004 race for the Senate. Obama is widely expected to raise at least $300 million more before November.Second Dot: The Washington Post reports White House visitor logs provide window into lobbying activity.
The story points out the stark difference between promises and reality.
The visitor logs for Jan. 17 — one of the most recent days available — show that the lobbying industry Obama has vowed to constrain is a regular presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The records also suggest that lobbyists with personal connections to the White House enjoy the easiest access.The visits are apparently worth their while for the visitors.
More than any president before him, Obama pledged to change the political culture that has fueled the influence of lobbyists. He barred recent lobbyists from joining his administration and banned them from advisory boards throughout the executive branch. The president went so far as to forbid what had been staples of political interaction — federal employees could no longer accept free admission to receptions and conferences sponsored by lobbying groups.
“A lot of folks,” Obama said last month, “see the amounts of money that are being spent and the special interests that dominate and the lobbyists that always have access, and they say to themselves, maybe I don’t count.”
The White House visitor records make it clear that Obama’s senior officials are granting that access to some of K Street’s most influential representatives. In many cases, those lobbyists have long-standing connections to the president or his aides. Republican lobbyists coming to visit are rare, while Democratic lobbyists are common, whether they are representing corporate clients or liberal causes.
In April 2011, [Lobbyist Marshal] Matz came to the Old Executive Office Building with the owner of Beef Products Inc. to meet with Robin Schepper, a woman he has known for years who heads Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign. The company owner argued that one of his products should be promoted for school lunches, according to two participants in the meeting.AFL-CIO lobbyist Bill Samuel visited the White House over 50 times. Tim Hannegan, whose clients include Comcast and Taser International, and who is also the top lobbyist for a coalition of for-profit colleges, has visited the White House over 30 times.
In October, Hannegan gathered at the Old Executive Office Building with the CEO and a lobbyist from his client Kelly Services and aides in charge of the president’s jobs council. Among other things, the group discussed a tax credit that Kelly, which supplies temporary office staffers, was pushing to encourage companies to hire unemployed veterans. Obama signed into law the credit, known as the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, a month and a half later.Connecting the dots: brings home the lesson about lobbying that we learned in Concentrated Benefits, Dispersed Costs.
Courtesy of the Washington Post, you too can now examine an interactive White House Visitor's Database and explore the wonderful world of crony politics.
...and that's all I have to say about that.