Washington Prowler

Lost in Transition

Obama reaches out and touches some lobbyists. Plus: Senator Jeb before 2010?

By 12.8.08

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REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE
For all the talk about an Obama transition team not using Washington lobbyists for assistance, there sure are a lot of private meetings being held with Washington corporate lobbyists at Obama transition offices around the nation's capital.

According to Obama transition insiders, senior Obama staff have held or have scheduled meetings with lobbyists from the telecom, health-care, pharmaceutical, energy, and automotive industries, asking for their input into stimulus packages and for their assistance in lobbying the House and the Senate for tax credits and line item funding items for appropriations and budget items to be placed in legislation that may come before Congress before the Obama Administration takes office.

"The transition team has not been making these meetings well known, but we're seeking input from all sources," says a transition source. According to one transition source angered by the meetings with lobbyists, a planned meeting in the upcoming days includes companies like AT&T to discuss ways to get federal funding for more Internet connections for lower income households.

"We ran against companies like that throughout the campaign, and now we're getting in bed with them. It stinks, and we want it to end," says the source. "I didn't work my [tail] off for 18 months so we could become another Clinton Administration. I worked hard so we wouldn't have an Administration like that ever again."


NO VACANCY?
Those knowledgeable with the thinking of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush say he is may be as much as 90 percent committed to filling the Senate seat to be vacated by the man who currently holds the seat, Sen. Mel Martinez. But Martinez does not want to retire before his term ends in 2010, and some Republicans in Florida are concerned that even if Martinez did step down, current Florida governor Charlie Crist would not appoint Bush.

But Jeb supporters, who have not spoken with the former governor, who has kept his specific opinions on the situation private, feel that conservative and Republican pressure could influence both Bush's decision-making, as well as the thinking of Martinez and Crist.


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