Friday, January 30, 2009

Lobbyists In Washington

Mark Patterson, a former lobbyist with the financial firm Goldman Sachs, will be chief of staff for newly appointed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The news comes a week after the nomination of William J. Lynn III, a former Raytheon Company lobbyist, to be deputy secretary at the Department of Defense.

Also, William Corr, a former anti-tobacco lobbyist, was named as deputy secretary of Health and Human Services. Corr reportedly pledged not to take part in tobacco matters.

Goldman Sachs, as a recipient of some of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) money, could have a vested interest in decisions made by the Treasury Department. Likewise, Raytheon, a major defense contractor, would have an interest in decisions made at the Pentagon.

Objections came from government watchdog groups: Project on Government Oversight, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and the Government Accountability Office and Public Citizen.

Despite the appointments, the Obama administration is defending its commitment to strict ethical policies even after appointing lobbyists to key posts. The administration defends hiring lobbyists due to their exceptional qualifications.