Oct. 9, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Register Now for the CQ Roll Call Fall Graduate Fair — at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Oct. 22!

The Rose Garden: White House Enlists Troops From K Street

But K Street sources emphasized that doors in the White House are open not just to favored friends of Obama’s minions.

“My sense is they take a very practical view of their interaction with lobbyists, activists and interest groups,” another top Democratic lobbyist said. “If people can support or promote the president’s agenda, there is a very business-like working relationship.”

This source said the more welcoming welcome mat unfurled in recent months to K Street is less a function of realizing that lobbyists can do them some good than it is a matter of the president’s agenda getting ramped up and needing the type of support that lobbyists can provide.

Some sources describe a more sophisticated, less “black and white” approach by the White House — a recognition that reviled enemies can also be friends, depending on the issue.

Lobbyists for groups like the American Medical Association, drugmakers and others who might be natural enemies of the Obama administration on some issues are brought in as the president tries to assemble alliances to get his health reform agenda passed.

Meanwhile, obvious allies registered to represent environmental groups and alternative energy companies are helping drum up support for the climate change bill.

Lobbyists with health care and financial services clients believe they have particular cachet with Obama aides as these issues assume center stage.

But those looking for project funding — the type of influence peddling that Obama vowed to crush — are less successful.

“It’s different for people doing appropriations and the stimulus bill,” one veteran Democratic lobbyist said. “They’re kept more at arm’s length.”

The go-to types for K Street in the West Wing extend well beyond the office of the public liaison, which is viewed in some quarters as a place to “ping” with concerns but not always to get serious business done.

Among those in high positions seen as willing to answer the phone are White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, Senior Adviser Peter Rouse, officials in the White House legislative affairs office and White House health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle.

But few, if any, lobbyists seem to think they have a chance at actually landing jobs within the administration. After a storm of criticism over some early exceptions made by Obama to tough rules limiting the hiring of lobbyists, K Street believes Obama has barred the door.

“That’s gotten more stringent than when they started,” one source said. “A few got in under the wire, but now that’s come to an end.”

comments powered by Disqus




Want Roll Call on your doorstep?