Dec. 9, 2013
: In Windy City, religion confronts a gust of cold air
Dec. 2, 2013
Rabbi Moshe Grylak: Attack on Chanukah's scholar-warriors an affront to all people of faith
U.S. boxes in Israel, not Iran: Surrender in Geneva
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom
: Vanessa Bayer & Jacob, the Bar Mitzvah Boy; Adam Levine, nickname "the Bear Jew," is People's Sexiest; Eastwoods Need to Say "Kinehora!"
The Kosher Gourmet by Kim Ode:
Fried and gone to heaven: Dense, fried Slovenian doughnut-like rolls, krofi, on Chanukah is a treat you'll want to eat all year long
: Tracking babies' eyes, scientists find signs of autism in 2-month-olds
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom
: Hunger Games: Jewish Connections; A 'Minyan'of Jewish Celebs Recite the Gettysburg Address On-line; Walter Matthau's Reaction to JFK's Death
Nancy A. Youssef :
Christians too afraid to complain as treatment in new 'democracy' worsens
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom
: Jewish MLB managers; Past and Present; Movie News and Dancing W/the Stars Shocker; Paula Abdul's Israeli bat mitzvah and bio facts rarely reported
Jewish World Review
March 7, 2012/ 13 Adar, 5772
Settling in to Washington's ways
Three years into his presidency, Barack Obama has finally overcome his pesky, puritanical aversion to K Street.
As a candidate, Obama pledged that lobbyists “will not run my White House.” But on Monday, the president brought in one of this town’s most prominent lobbyists to run his White House — or at least a nice piece of it.
Steve Ricchetti, whose long list of lobbying clients included Fannie Mae, General Motors, the American Hospital Association and Eli Lilly, was tapped to be counselor to Vice President Biden.
Ricchetti achieved this feat — getting around the ban on lobbyists serving in the administration — by using one of Washington’s most-honored traditions: the loophole. Just as Obama won the presidency, Ricchetti de-registered as a lobbyist for his various clients. But he remained president of the lobbying firm that continued to work for many of those same clients, as well as a few more, such as the American Bankers Association.
Only in today’s Washington could a president circumvent his own ban on hiring lobbyists by hiring the head of a lobbying firm.
Ricchetti no doubt will give Biden excellent counsel; he has more than a quarter-century of experience in politics and government, and he is highly regarded around town. But his appointment shows just how flimsy Obama’s ethical reforms have been — and how absurd the official standards are for who is a “lobbyist” in the influence industry. For many Americans, this sort of chicanery adds to a suspicion that the fix is in.
Ricchetti has been through the revolving door more often than a bellhop at the Mayflower Hotel: Blue Cross Blue Shield, then the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, then the Clinton White House, then lobbying, then back to the Clinton White House, then more lobbying, this time starting Ricchetti Inc. with his brother, Jeff. (A call seeking comment from Ricchetti Inc. wasn’t returned.)
The brothers recently started another firm, Midwest Gateway Partners, with former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. National Journal reported last year that the firm would “do some lobbying work.” Steve Ricchetti’s bio was removed from Midwest’s Web site this week.
Ricchetti’s hiring is not a unique event. Obama’s campaign has hired Broderick Johnson, who had been a lobbyist for Microsoft, Comcast and TransCanada, the company seeking to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier, Obama administration officials got around their self-imposed rule (which prevents a lobbyist from serving for two years) by granting waivers to people Obama sought to appoint, such as former Raytheon lobbyist William Lynn, who got a top job at the Pentagon.
The leniency shown to Ricchetti and Lynn might not be so awkward if Obama hadn’t enforced his ethics policy more vigorously in other cases. The administration declined to grant a waiver to Tom Malinowski so he could serve as human rights chief at the State Department; he was disqualified because he had lobbied for torture victims as an official with Human Rights Watch.
Ricchetti didn’t need a waiver because he hadn’t been a registered lobbyist for two years. But the timing of Ricchetti’s decision to de-register as a lobbyist for his dozen clients was curious: effective in the fourth quarter of 2008. The firm later filed an amended 2008 report in July 2010, de-registering Ricchetti as a lobbyist for the hospital association.
In joining the White House, Ricchetti is trading places with one of his fellow executives at Ricchetti Inc., James Heimbach. Another revolving-door specialist, Heimbach was a lobbyist with Ricchetti until 2006, later joined the Obama White House, then returned to lobby at Ricchetti Inc.
Obama once disapproved of Ricchetti’s activities. His campaign in 2007 criticized Hillary Clinton for having Ricchetti as one of her top fundraisers. The Obama campaign later criticized Clinton for requesting an earmark sought by a Ricchetti client.
And there were many clients over the years: AT&T, Reed Elsevier, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Siemens, Sirius XM, Amgen, Boston Scientific, America’s Health Insurance Plans, eBay, Dow Chemical, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, among others, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Cumulatively, they paid Ricchetti and his firms millions.
Now, while his brother keeps the lobbying business going, Steve Ricchetti is in a good position to help old friends. An administration official pointed out that Ricchetti will recuse himself from matters involving former clients, which is reassuring. But his latest tour in the White House should make him even more valuable as a lobbyist if and when he returns to K Street.
Such an arrangement may not violate the letter of Obama’s ethics policy, but it makes a joke of the spirit of reform he promised.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on Dana Milbank's column by clicking here.
• 03/06/12 AIPAC beats the drums of war
• 03/05/12 Did Republicans forget the women's vote?
• 02/29/12 Mitt Romney's acceptance speech, in (mostly) his own words
• 02/28/12 Common ground becomes a great divide
• 02/27/12 An expert witness for the GOP gender gap
• 02/21/12 Where Romney shines
• 02/15/12 A Republican death wish?
• 02/14/12Obama's budget games
• 02/13/12 Are GOPers playing right into Obama's hands?
• 02/08/12 Obama pumps the compressor of Joe Hudy's Extreme Marshmallow Cannon
• 02/07/12 Abramoff's atonement
• 02/01/12 Why we in the media just love Newt
• 01/31/12 The end of the road for Newt Gingrich?
• 01/25/12 Gingrich is Obama's best surrogate
• 01/24/12 Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney's attack dog
• 01/16/12 Mitt Romney's Al Gore problem
• 01/12/12 Kamikaze Gingrich, on the loose in South Carolina
• 01/11/12 Journalists' campaign trail secrets revealed
• 01/10/12 Mitt Romney's money problem
• 01/09/12 Newtonian exceptionalism
• 01/05/12 Mitt Romney out of control
• 01/04/12 Indecision 2012: In Iowa and the GOP
• 01/03/12 Rick Santorum's curious closing argument
• 12/28/11 A few cracks in my crystal ball
• 12/23/11 A few cracks in my crystal ball
• 12/20/11 Strange brews and views?
• 12/19/11 Cellphone ban would be a distraction
• 12/15/11 Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and the Malfunction Minuet
• 12/14/11 The presidential auction of 2012
• 12/12/11 Newt's tactics comes back to haunt him
• 12/06/11 Can an anthem save Occupy non-movement?
• 12/05/11 The winner of the GOP campaign: Washington
• 11/30/11 Barney the bully: Congressman Frank's other legacy
• 11/23/11 Jon Kyl's search-and-destroy mission
• 11/21/11 Pay to play, brought to you by Washington
• 11/17/11 Big enough to save the supercommittee?
• 11/16/11 Why Newt Gingrich won't last
• 11/08/11 The 2012 campaign gets seedier
• 11/06/11 A Machiavellian model for Obama
• 11/03/11 The Herman Cain crack-up
• 11/01/11 Cain can --- he will survive
• 10/27/11 Stuntmen of the supercommittee
• 10/26/11 Democrats on the sidelines
• 10/24/11 Rick Perry's birther Parade
• 10/24/11 The birthers eat their own
• 10/19/11 The GOP's middle man
• 10/17/11 The waiting for nothing Congress
• 10/12/11 Sparsely occupied D.C.: Why the movement hasn't caught on
• 10/10/11 Can Obama strike an alliance with Occupy Wall Street?
• 10/06/11 Chris Christie, such a presidential tease
• 10/05/11 Obama and his foot soldiers go toe to toe
• 09/28/11 Cain could deliver
• 09/26/11 Republicans? Mr. Nice Guys?
• 09/22/11 Why Ron Paul is winning the GOP primary
• 09/21/11 I am a job creator who creates no jobs
• 09/20/11 Obama launches a revolution
• 09/19/11 Dems for Romney?
• 09/14/11 ‘Supercommittee’? More than stupor committee
• 09/07/11 Mitt Romney finds his (corporate) voice
• 09/01/11 The infallible Dick Cheney
• 08/31/11 This liberal says Perry is the ultimate conservative candidate
• 08/29/11 Wanted: More bite from Obama the Great Nibbler
• 08/10/11 How Rep. Austin Scott betrayed his Tea Party roots
• 08/09/11 The most powerful man on Earth?
• 08/08/11 The FAA shutdown and the new rules of Washington
• 08/04/11 Lt. Col. Allen West fires a round at the Tea Party
• 08/03/11 Government on autopilot
• 08/02/11 Dems mourn debt deal like death
• 07/27/11 Life imitates sport
• 07/26/11 Obama and Boehner take on Washington
• 07/21/11 Why Americans are angry at Congress
• 07/20/11 The new party of Reagan
• 07/18/11 Rob Portman, the boring Midwesterner who could bring sanity to the debt debate
• 07/13/11 John Boehner's bind
• 07/04/11 Stephen Colbert, Karl Rove and the mockery of campaign finance
• 07/01/11 President Puts Up His Dukes, As He Ought To
• 06/28/11 Rod Blagojevich verdict: All shook up
• 06/27/11 Progressives voice their anger at Obama
• 06/24/11 Mission accomplished, Obama style
• 06/22/11 Jon Huntsman's first step toward oblivion
• 06/21/11 Scott Walker finds making bumper stickers is easier than creating jobs
• 06/20/11 A day of awkwardness with Mitt Romney
• 06/06/11 Hubris and humility: Sarah Palin and Robert Gates on tour
• 06/02/11 The Weiner roast
• 06/01/11 Congress clocks in to clock out
• 05/30/11 Hermanator II: No More Mr. Gadfly
• 05/24/11 How Obama has empowered Netanyahu
• 05/24/11 Pawlenty bends his truth-telling
• 05/20/11 Default deniers say it's all a hoax
• 05/18/11: Gingrich gives voice to moderation
• 05/17/11: Donald Trump and the House of Horrors
• 05/16/11: The medical mystery of Mitt Romney
• 05/12/11: The body impolitic: Schock photos should tempt lawmakers to cover up
• 05/10/11: Muskets in hand, tea party blasts House Republicans
• 05/09/11: The GOP debate: America -- and the party -- needs the grown-ups
• 05/05/11: Mitch Daniels, an alternative to scary
• 05/03/11: Obama's victory lap
• 05/02/11: How the journalist prom got out of control
• 04/28/11: Obama's birther day: Why did he lower himself by appearing in the briefing room?
• 04/27/11: Obama, lost in thought
• 04/24/11: Andrew Breitbart and the rifts on the right
• 04/22/11: Ten Commandments for 2012
• 04/21/11: Obama likes Facebook. Facebook likes Obama.
• 04/18/11: Without Nancy Pelosi, Obama is adrift
• 04/15/11: If progressives ran the world
• 04/14/11: Faith in political apostasy
• 04/13/11: One man's revolution is another's political expediency
• 04/11/11: Shutdown theatrics
• 04/06/11: Paul Ryan's irresponsible budget
• 04/05/11: Robots in Congress? Yes, we replicant!
• 04/04/11: Robert Gibbs, Facebook and the White House corporate placement service
• 04/01/11: Haley Barbour, the fat cats' candidate
• 03/31/11: Republican freshmen in House shut down compromise, and possibly the government
• 03/30/11: Coburn and Durbin, the dynamic duo of the debt crisis
• 03/28/11: The Obama doctrine: A gray area the size of Libya
• 03/24/11: Dems as Weiners
• 03/23/11: Obama's quick trip from tyrant to weakling
• 03/17/11: Who's afraid of Elizabeth Warren?
• 03/15/11: The underwear flap over Bradley Manning
• 03/10/11: In Senate's debt debate, talk isn't cheap
• 03/09/11: With Obama's new Gitmo policy, Administration officials had some 'splainin to do
• 03/02/11: Issa press aide scandal is like bad reality TV
• 02/25/11: Jay Carney: Mouthpiece for an inscrutable White House
• 02/14/11: The Donald trumps the pols at CPAC
• 02/09/11: Arianna Huffington's ideological transformation
© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group