On Obama’s first day in office, he signed an executive order restricting current and former lobbyists from working in his administration. From the very beginning, the President has wiggled around this measure, as people like Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner have meticulously documented.
But at this point it seems like the President is getting lazy. An absolutely must-read piece at the New York Times reports that John Podesta, founder of the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress (CAP) – an organization the Times calls “a virtual external policy arm of the Obama administration” – has deep ties to corporate rent-seekers who benefit from favorable government policies and has now been hired as an adviser to the President.
The defense contractor Northrop Grumman gave money to the left-leaning Center for American Progress, founded by John D. Podesta, as the nonprofit group at times bemoaned what it called the harmful impact of major reductions in Pentagon spending.
Pacific Gas and Electric sent in a donation as Mr. Podesta championed government incentives to promote solar energy and other renewable sources that the California company buys more of than nearly any other utility.
The pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly was also a donor because of what it said was the Center for American Progress’s advocacy for patients’ rights — and just as the debate heated up in Washington over potential cuts to the Medicare program that covers Lilly’s most profitable drugs.
Mr. Podesta, named a senior adviser to President Obama, is not currently a lobbyist and therefore does not have to worry about the Obama administration’s self-imposed ban on hiring lobbyists to administration jobs. But he will nonetheless arrive at the White House after having run an organization that has taken millions of dollars in corporate donations in recent years and has its own team of lobbyists who have pushed an agenda that sometimes echoes the interests of these corporate supporters.
Podesta has served on the corporate boards of clean energy companies and defense contractors whose “future…depends in part on…policies set by the government and heavily promoted by the White House.”
So “Obama adviser” John Podesta’s corporate ties to the defense, energy, and pharmaceutical industries is a vital asset for those companies hoping to get government handouts. Obama ain’t even shy about it anymore.
This kind of revolving door machine is a big part of the reason corporate welfare sectors like the defense industry have an outsize influence in Washington and continue to get paid exorbitant amounts of taxpayer money for weapons systems that even the Pentagon says it doesn’t want or need and for a military budget that exceeds most of the rest of the world’s defense budgets combined.
Read the full report here.