The Audacious Hypocrite
Barack Obama’s Enduring Lobbyist Ties
By Ben Domenech Posted in 2008 | Barack Obama | lobbyists | Obamafiles — Comments (17) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Trying to lock up the 2008 nomination, Barack Obama sent one of his most prominent lobbyist allies to help convince Puerto Ricans to vote for him.
If you believed that whole shtick about this fellow as the bearer of a new kind of politics – one that rejected the typical Washington-centric choices of the past – well, good for you. You’re an optimist. Rock on. Invest in pork bellies. And yeah, I’m sure HD-DVD and Betamax will make a comeback.
Obama likes lobbyists. They’re likable people. They're paid to be likable, in fact.
Obama has tons of lobbyists hanging around his campaign, giving him money, whispering in his ears. We all knew that. But this is something more.
Obama’s co-director for his entire campaign in Puerto Rico, it turns out, is a Beltway-based federal lobbyist. Not just a little lobbying, no - someone who's made millions doing nothing but lobbying for the past seven years. And what's more, he hasn't even bothered to take a leave of absence from his firm to organize Obama's campaign effort in Puerto Rico.
The co-director of Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Puerto Rico is a Washington-based federal lobbyist for the government of Puerto Rico.
Ethics watchdogs said that the high-profile role of Francisco J. Pavía appears to contradict the Obama campaign's ethics guidelines, which forbid federal lobbyists from working on staff. But Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Pavía is an "active volunteer" -- not a paid staffer -- and can hold the job without running afoul of the campaign's rules…
But Obama's rules also have been somewhat ambiguous. Some of his campaign's volunteer policy advisers are lobbyists. And at least one lobbyist said he was asked to take a leave of absence from his firm before he volunteered for the campaign…
Pavía is not on leave from his law firm, Winston & Strawn, according to the managing partner of its Washington office, Thomas L. Mills.
But he has been an important part of the Obama campaign in Puerto Rico, which holds its Democratic primary Sunday. Obama wrote to Puerto Rico's State Elections Commission in March to designate Pavía and Andres Lopez as "our local representatives" to the commission. In May, Pavía and Lopez signed a posting on Obama's campaign Web site that identified them as co-directors of the Puerto Rico effort and solicited volunteers.
Pavía has been a registered lobbyist for various arms of the Puerto Rican government since 2001, according to disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate. His firm's total compensation for lobbying for the commonwealth over that period was more than $3 million…
"It sounds like a conflict with Obama's policy," said Melanie Sloan of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "They need to provide an explanation."
Puerto Rico may be new to this whole presidential politics game. But voters on the island know a hypocrite when they see one. For all the talk Obama advances about changing the political paradigm in Washington, people are beginning to understand that he’s just a chic rebranding of the same old failed policies and broken promises. And regardless of these voter's lack of history, their tolerance for bullcrap just ain't that high.