Says President Barack Obama: Never mind!
When President Obama arrived at the Mandarin Oriental hotel for a fund-raising reception on Thursday night, the new White House rules of political purity were in order: no lobbyists allowed.
But at the same downtown hotel on Friday morning, registered lobbyists have not only been invited to attend an issues conference with Democratic leaders, but they have also been asked to come with a $5,000 check in hand if they want to stay in good favor with the party’s House and Senate re-election committees.
The practicality of Mr. Obama’s pledge to change the ways of Washington is colliding once more with the reality of how money, influence and governance interact here. He repeatedly declared while campaigning last year that he would “not take a dime” from lobbyists or political action committees.
So to follow through with that promise, Mr. Obama is simply leaving the room.
For the first time in eight years, Democrats have a president of their own to preside over their political fund-raising activities. And Mr. Obama’s rules have hardly stopped the bustling intersection of money and politics. Not only are members of Congress already engaged in their next races, but legislative battles over health care, energy and financial regulation have also put a premium on access and influence for many lobbyists and their clients.
So much for “change.”