March 9, 2012
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.